By Darren Lum
Like a veteran movie star, Evan Armstrong already knows how to tease a show since his claim to TV fame after being one of 10 competitors in the second season of the reality television show, All-Around Champion.
“You get hooked. It’s a competition. In spots it’s a little bit dramatic … my grandma watched it and she found she really got connected to the people in the show. She had a personal connection with them and at the end there is a big surprise, so you got to watch and see that,” the 15-year-old Haliburton teen said, grinning.
The show available to view through www.tvokids.com is about gaining new perspectives, whether it’s teaching others and learning about patience to learning a new sport while dealing with anxieties related to pushing past boundaries.
Armstrong, who had an edge going in with experience downhill skiing and snowboarding, spent two months last year sequestered away from family, except for one weekend in a large house in Alliston.
They came from all over North America, competing in 10 winter sports over 10 weeks looking to gain the most points, including a final surprise challenge combining several contests. Each of them had a particular expertise in one of the sports and coached the others for three days before competing against one another in a challenge.
The Grade 10 student at Lakefield College School helped to coach Nordic skiing with Beckie Scott, an Olympic gold medalist.
He discovered he knew more than he thought and gained a greater appreciation for the foundational skills of his sport. Teaching highlighted how patience is an important aspect to coaching effectively.
The other sports included, speed skating, figure skating, snowboarding, mogul skiing, ski jumping, ice climbing, luge, dog mushing and curling.
Overall, he enjoyed his experience despite the waiting around between interviews and setups for shots and not being able to Nordic ski more than the four days.
It taught him the importance of sport and what it means to him, and how much work is required to produce a television show.
“Now I see why actors get paid so much,” he said, smiling. “A lot of work goes in to TV and it’s not just the people you see on camera and the cameramen. There’s so many more people involved in creating a TV show or a movie. People who look after the actors, actresses.”
Produced for a North American audience, the field of 10 teens included five Canadians and five Americans, divided equally by gender. Shooting and everything related, from being interviewed to travelling was a full day affair, starting close to 7 a.m.
Each week there were four days of shooting for the 22 30-minute episodes and then two days off to work out at a nearby gym, catch up on school work or relax. Evan said his teachers were accommodating and gave him extra work to complete without any new lessons.
Although filming for the show only included the interview portion with Evan at his home and at Glebe Park, the teenager said the first season included filming at the Minden Whitewater Preserve in Minden and J. Douglas Hodgson Elementary School in Haliburton.
Evan’s father Mike Armstrong said his son had looked forward to being part of the show and that it came about because of his Nordic coach at Kawartha Nordic, who recommended his son and did much of the groundwork for the application and interviews.
“I think I would have to say Evan developed a new respect for athletes in other sports and other sports in general throughout this process,” he said.
See the episodes at www.tvokids.com.