Carl Roepke is the voice of the venue
It would be hard to argue with Carl Roepke’s infatuation with the Olympics.
He’s been a staple at the Utah Olympic Park for the last 15 years as a jack-of-all-trades. He was a member of the United States luge team in the 1980s and has been a PA announcer at the last three Olympic Winter Games.
His son, Carl IV, is coincidentally nicknamed "Root." His other son, Augie, was named after a news reporter who covered the Olympic Torch being carried through San Francisco, Calif., as Buddhist monks protested China’s hostile history of human rights prior to the 2008 Olympic Summer Games in Beijing.
Roepke’s laundry list of announcing accomplishments illustrates his versatility. He has been the voice of the track at the Utah Olympic Park for Olympic Games, World Championships, World Cups and Continental Cups. He’s called speedskating events at the Utah Olympic Oval in Kearns and announced at jazz festivals and extreme sporting events.
The Parkite is also the voice of the Miller Motorsports Park in Tooele, where he has screamed information into the microphone over the earsplitting engines of cars, motorcycles and drag racers.
"I’ve always threw my hat in the ring for announcing," he said during an interview at City Park July 5.
Now, after three Olympic Winter Games announcing bobsled, luge, skeleton and a multitude of Paralympic events, Roepke is venturing into foreign territory. In two weeks, he’ll be at the epicenter of yet another sporting universe in London for the 2012 Olympic Summer Games.
Roepke will be the PA announcer for all 15 shooting events at the Royal Artillery Barracks in southeast London. But unlike bobsled or luge or skeleton, Roepke is venturing out of his comfort zone and learning to call a slew of unfamiliar sports on the fly.
In London in April for the test events, he glanced down at his roster and saw names and countries he’d never imagined announcing.
"The test event featured 98 countries and 800 shooters in 15 disciplines," he explained. "With bobsled, luge and skeleton, you add them all up and you might have 50 countries total. To look at the country codes and names, it starts getting my heart-rate up. It’s really special to look at country codes and realize a team from Cyprus has such an amazing shooting team, or Yemen has a pistol shooter who is currently best in the world."
Whether it is for rifle or pistol shot, or trap or skeet shooting with shotguns, Roepke has been doing his homework since accepting the invitation to his first Summer Games.
"It’s just so impressive that now as an announcer, he gets hired to call events, some of which he knows little to nothing about," said his wife, Michele Roepke, who was also an announcer during the 2006 Winter Games in Torino, Italy. "For example shooting sports: He knows a lot about it now, but it’s not so much of an expertise as perhaps a winter sliding sport. But they know they can count on him to do a good job. He’s the voice of the venue."
He said all on-site analysis will be computer-generated and will be played on a large screen to show viewers exactly where the shots hit and what the overall result is.
Michele Roepke said her husband’s enthusiasm for sports and specifically the Olympics was a major selling point to those who extended the invite to Carl. Compared to track & field or swimming, the shooting sports aren’t exactly the hottest ticket at each Summer Games, but Roepke is out to try and change that.
"Carl is known for announcing louder, rowdy sports like bobsled, hockey, luge or skeleton," she said, "so organizers of the shooting sports saw his resume, and those international organizers, by their own admission, said, ‘These venues have been a bit of a snoozefest, and we’re going to get an announcer who can really amp up a crowd.’"
"I’m trying to create a little more of a lively atmosphere," Roepke added.
He will arrive in London on July 22, five days prior to the Opening Ceremony, and will utilize those five days to become acclimatized to the atmosphere of the Games.
"I’m excited to come into the field of play at the Royal Artillery Barracks and come out each night and ride the trains and bus systems and ask people what they think of the event," he said. "My goal is to leave them awestruck — I want them to be proud they had that ticket. The excitement for me is to build all that up and see the smiles when it’s over."
Carl and Michele Roepke, who were the first husband-wife announcing tandem at an Olympic Games (Torino), look back on the journey of working for the 2002 Olympic Winter Games in Park City together, to building a family to now sending Carl off to his first Summer Games.
As Roepke expressed his enthusiasm for the three-week global event, he folded his arms over his white polo shirt, the five Olympic rings resting comfortably above his heart.
"It’s really been elevated to levels I wouldn’t have imagined," he said of his announcing career.
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The group that represents businesses in the Main Street core of Park City formally outlined a request to close the shopping, dining and entertainment strip to traffic on Sundays in the summer and early fall.