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UP CLOSE: And the Emmy goes to ...

Lake Placid native Craig McCasland and his team at ESPN

November 22, 2019
By ELIZABETH IZZO - Staff Writer ( , Lake Placid News

LAKE PLACID - Lake Placid native Craig McCasland was 15 years old when he first stepped behind the lens.

A local photographer, Dave Berner, asked the teen if he'd like to try his hand at filming a Can-Am hockey game at the Olympic Center.

"I just said, 'sure,'" McCasland said.

Article Photos

Craig McCasland is pictured here alongside his Emmy award at Wiseguys in Lake Placid on Friday, Nov. 15.
(News photo — Elizabeth Izzo)

What started as a hobby snowballed into a profession and last year led to an Emmy Award win.

McCasland, now 50, was part of an ESPN team that was on the ground filming the U.S. Open tennis championship last year, a broadcast that won the network the 2018 Emmy Award for Outstanding Technical Team Remote. The team dropped in and patched together video, audio and graphics to capture the event.

"It was a huge undertaking," he said. "But it's what we do every day."

The 1987 Lake Placid High School graduate has sports in his veins. That's a natural side effect, he said, of growing up in a village where the Olympic legacy looms large.

McCasland went to college at SUNY Canton and SUNY Cortland. While in school, he filmed a live puck drop at an ECAC hockey game, and he realized in that moment that being behind the camera at sporting events was something he wanted to do as a career.

It was 2002 when he was first assigned to cover an Olympic Games, in Salt Lake City. Much like the athletes that train hard to make it there, it took a lot of hard work for McCasland to secure his spot behind the lens. But covering this large-scale sports mecca was made easier by his Lake Placid roots.

"We grew up around all these Olympic sports around here, so the technical knowledge of the sport is already embedded in your mind," he said. "It becomes second-nature to cover."

McCasland was one of a number of cameramen assigned to film the bobsled events there.

"I was at the top of the track where all the action was," he said. "Everybody at home could see me out there, working every day."

Throughout his career, McCasland has been present at six Olympic Games and has filmed athletes across a variety of sports at each one - bobsled, luge, skeleton, ski jumping, sailing, freestyle skiing, snowboarding, wrestling, curling, figure skating. McCasland vividly remembers being on the scene when Yin Jian, a windsurfer from Xichang, Sichuan, China, took home the country's first gold medal in sailing at the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics.

Over the years, he's covered pretty much everything: NBA basketball, tennis, rodeo, soccer, horse racing, golf, rugby, skateboarding, air racing and volleyball.

But the sport where he got his start - hockey - remains his favorite to film.

"There's so much drama in it," he said. "I always call it the 'cheap seats' - you get the best seats in the house at these games and they don't cost anything. You work hard to get there."

One of his favorite hockey moments: When the New York Rangers won their first Stanley Cup in more than 50 years in 1994. He was there.

"It doesn't get more exciting than that," he said.

McCasland contributes his success as a cameraman to the support he's received from his community and his parents, Ed and Kay McCasland.

"The people that I've come across, that I grew up with here, the elder people in this town, the people that built this town," he said. "Their influence has a lot to do with it. They taught me to just work hard and always represent Lake Placid.

"I owe a lot of it to just being from Lake Placid. It takes a village."



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