Thomas Odelfelt ’93, director of production and live events for HBO Sports, was recently featured in the Greenwich Time for having earned his second consecutive Sports Emmy in the Outstanding Edited Specials category. The most recent was for a four-episode documentary series, “24/7 Penguins/Capitals: Road to the NHL Winter Classic.” Last year, he won for a program that followed boxers Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Juan Manuel Marquez before a 2009 fight in Las Vegas.
Odelfelt earned a B.A. in Individual Studies from Hobart College, where he was a member of the tennis team and earned the J.V. Certificate for tennis.
The full article about his career follows.
Cos Cob resident savors 2nd straight Sports Emmy win
Lisa Chamoff • Staff Writer • June 13, 2011
Thomas Odelfelt spent Christmas and New Year’s watching tons of hockey.
But instead of relaxing and enjoying a few games with his family from the comfort of his Cos Cob home, Odelfelt, a producer with HBO Sports for the past 17 years, was working. He and three fellow producers pored over hours of footage taken of the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals before the Winter Classic, an annual outdoor New Year’s Day matchup.
The four-episode documentary series, “24/7 Penguins/Capitals: Road to the NHL Winter Classic,” ran on HBO during December and January. Odelfelt and his colleagues recently won a Sports Emmy in the Outstanding Edited Specials category for their work on the series.
It was a sweet personal victory for Odelfelt, who has spent his career producing live boxing broadcasts from around the world and working at the Wimbledon tennis tournament. Odelfelt, who is married and has two young sons, was away from his family for much of December, which he spent in an editing room in Manhattan.
“To have something like this to show for it is very special,” said Odelfelt, a 1988 Brunswick School graduate.
The award was Odelfelt’s second statue from the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. He won in the same category last year for a similar reality-style program, which followed boxers Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Juan Manuel Marquez before a 2009 fight in Las Vegas.
Odelfelt, who moved to Greenwich from Sweden at age 14, got his foundation in sports by playing plenty of hockey, as well as soccer and tennis, at Brunswick. He went on to study communications at Hobart College in Geneva, N.Y., and started his career with HBO just after graduating in 1993.
Before working on the cable network’s sports mini-series, Odelfelt had spent the past 10 years producing live fights. He was in South Africa in 2001 when heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis got knocked out by underdog Hasim Rahman, and followed Oscar De La Hoya at top of his career.
Odelfelt’s wife, Raha, was happy Odelfelt was recognized for a project that took him away from his family during the holidays, but is especially glad it was one he was passionate about.
“It’s always really nice because you’re working on something you’re in love with,” she said.
HBO’s 24/7 series goes behind the scenes, and Odelfelt said the intent over the four episodes is to personalize the fighters, or hockey players, that are followed around by the cameras. Team meetings, practices and players getting stitched up by trainers — everything was filmed.
That meant Odelfelt had to go through more than 100 tapes sent by producers in the field, editing the footage down into eight to nine short segments per episode. During the holiday season, he worked 14-hour shifts in the editing facility in Manhattan’s SoHo neighborhood.
“It was intense because there was just so much material to go through,” Odelfelt said. “We had never done anything like it before, so it was just uncharted waters.”
Odelfelt, who still plays hockey for a men’s league in Stamford, may not have had it as hard as the athletes, though. A scene in the last episode shows a Penguins player getting a bloody cut on his face stitched up during the game in Pittsburgh, part of which was played in the rain. The Capitals won the game 3-1.
“I think it just got everyone who saw the program to see how really tough hockey players were,” Odelfelt said. “They all play hurt and the daily grind is something you can’t really imagine.”
Staff Writer Lisa Chamoff can be reached at email@example.com or 203-625-4439.
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