BEIJING — A veteran broadcaster who's covered six different Olympics in the past dozen years, Vai Sikahema has added a new wrinkle to his Games repertoire.

The former BYU football standout and NFL Pro Bowl return specialist is in China this month covering the Beijing Games as both a local sportscaster and an NBC correspondent. In addition to his duties as sports director for NBC's Philadelphia station, WCAU, Sikahema is contributing to a daily network show during the Olympics.

Sikahema is one of six correspondents working on a nightly NBC show, "The Olympic Zone." (It airs weeknights at 6:30 p.m. and Saturdays at 6 p.m. on KSL-Ch. 5.) His first piece — a tour of Beijing's famous Ming Tombs — is scheduled for tonight.

He calls the show a cross between "Access Hollywood" and the Olympics.

"Basically, the premise is for NBC Sports to contribute three athlete profiles for each show, and we on "The Olympic Zone" staff contribute three features," Sikahema explained.

"It may be cultural in nature, like my Ming Tomb piece. Or if it's an athlete feature, it's the kind of story where we take the athlete to go shopping or fishing or something outside their field of competition."

In addition, when time permits, he'll file live reports for his station back in Philadelphia — but "The Olympic Zone" remains his first priority while in Beijing.

Other projects for Sikahema either waiting to be aired or in the works include a feature on U.S. women's soccer player Natasha Kai and one on the husband-and-wife shooting team of Matt and Katerina Emmons.

Katerina won the first gold medal of the Beijing Games competing for the Czech Republic, while Matt won one in Athens for the United States four years earlier.

"But it was the gold that he missed when he fired upon the wrong target that won the affection of Katerina," Sikahema said. "They struck up a friendship and became marriage partners."

When he's not working, Sikahema is trying to get out and see China. He took a day trip to the Great Wall last weekend with his staff.

"I was blown away — simply incredible," he said. "Words can't describe it, and pictures and video don't do it justice."

Sikahema has also worked at the Games in Atlanta, Sydney, Salt Lake City, Athens and Torino.


E-mail: taylor@desnews.com