Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts

Pierce: Olympian Apolo Ohno now a game-show host

By Scott D. Pierce

| The Salt Lake Tribune

First Published Jun 21 2013 03:11 pm • Last Updated Dec 07 2013 11:33 pm

Apolo Anton Ohno is the most decorated American Winter Olympian of all time. He was a hero of the 2002 Salt Lake Games.

And now he’s hosting a game show. Really. "Minute to Win It" is moving to cable channel GSN (Tuesday at 6 and 7 p.m. MDT), and the winner of two gold, two silver and four bronze Olympic short-track speed skating medals will be front and center.

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

"It was something I’ve always wanted to do," Ohno said in a phone interview with The Salt Lake Tribune. "I liked the show before. I was actually strangely addicted to watching it."

Contestants take on up to 10 timed challenges involving household items — everything from quickly pulling tissues out of their boxes to using chopsticks to stack ChapStick.

"I’ve played every single game myself with the designers, so I know the tricks and the tips," Ohno said. "I was surprised at how many games they thought up. These guys are geniuses."

There are even parallels between the Olympics and "Minute to Win It." Ohno pointed to people who have won multiple world titles but haven’t been able to medal at the Games.

"I know this from my own Olympic experience," Ohno said. "You get out there on the stage, the countdown begins and the dynamics have changed. It’s for real money and the clock is counting down and you’re there with the cameras and the lights. So people get very nervous.

"I feel like a coach who can’t give the answers to what they need," Ohno said with a laugh. He can ask them what they did wrong; he can ask them what they’ll do differently; he can’t tell them either of those things.

"It kills me, because I want to see these people win," he said.

Which is one of the reasons he’s good at this. And good hosts are hard to find.

story continues below
story continues below

Bob Barker made it look easy because he was talented. And Ohno makes it look pretty easy.

He’s enthusiastic without being bellicose. He’s supportive without being smarmy.

It’s clear he’s having fun, which makes watching "Minute to Win It" more fun to watch.

"We try to make sure everybody has a good time, whether they win a thousand dollars or a quarter million," Ohno said.

He had a few lessons to learn taping 40 episodes. Like when he lost his voice trying to be heard over the audience. "I didn’t know you needed a voice coach and how you had to train yourself, so I didn’t prepare for that. Now I know," he said.

It’s more than a little like sportscasting, which he’ll also be doing soon. He’ll be in Utah for the short-track skating Olympic trials in late December-early January before heading to Sochi, Russia, for the 2014 games.

"I miss Salt Lake City," Ohno said. "I trained there starting in 1999, and I love it. I had some great success there, and a lot of support. Can’t wait to go back."

Scott D. Pierce covers television for The Salt Lake Tribune. Email him at spierce@sltrib.com; follow him on Twitter @ScottDPierce.

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment

About Reader Comments

Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.