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Local blogger finalist to cover Winter Olympics for Microsoft

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What writer wouldn't want to cover the Olympics? The glitz, the glamor and the high-profile nature of the gig are just about irresistible, regardless of your feelings about winter sports. I mean, I'd jump at the opportunity, and I couldn't care less about skiing, skating and curling. Well, curling's kind of cool -- something about a man with a broom on ice is just special...

But for local blogger Amber Johnson, editor of the Denver Post's Mile High Mamas, covering the Olympics is something of a lifelong dream. Johnson's a winter-sports enthusiast and former adventure-travel writer and ski publicist. Now she's one of five finalists nationwide to cover the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver on Microsoft's dime. And for her, it's a second chance to live the dream, after her first shot got caught up in traffic, as she explained on her blog:

My love affair with the Winter Olympics began when I was a wee lassie growing up in Calgary. The Olympics came to town in 1988 and we lived and breathed everything about it. Our physical education curriculum was modified to include Olympic sports such as luge lessons at Canada Olympic Park. My family attended a number of events and we partied it up at Olympic Plaza every night for the medals ceremony. As an aspiring journalist, I dreamed of someday covering the Olympics. Fast-forward 14 years. I worked as an adventure-travel writer and freelanced at Metro Networks radio when the 2002 Games came to Salt Lake City. I was thrilled with the prospect of my dream finally coming to fruition.

Until I got assigned to cover traffic.

I made the best of it. When not reporting transportation terrors, I attended evening concerts and numerous events, including the Canada vs. Finland hockey quarterfinals. Canada went on to win the gold. I made Olympic history when I dove across my maple-leaf-clad neighbor for a five-second spot on the Jumbotron.

We all have our Olympic moments

And now I'd love to have another.

Below, read a brief Q&A with Johnson, in which she explains why she should get the opportunity -- and how you, and Ellen DeGeneres, can help.

Westword: Are you a full-time blogger?

Amber Johnson: I worked for a number of years as an adventure-travel writer and as a publicist in Utah's ski industry. I am currently a work-at home mom. I have two young kids, so whatever time they're not in kindergarten/preschool is dedicated to freelance travel writing and blogging.

WW: How did you qualify? Were you nominated? Self-nominated? Were there trials of endurance or skill?

AJ: I saw a tweet about the contest on Twitter. I applied, never dreaming I had a shot at something of this magnitude. There was a lengthy application and I had to submit two writing samples from my blog. I then had to write an essay about why I would [be] a great fit.

In addition to running all of the Denver Post's social media for moms at Mile High Mamas (an award-winning site I founded), I am also a Snowmama for Park City Mountain Resort's cutting-edge social-media site. In addition, I am running a big social-media campaign for Colorado Ski Country this winter involving mom bloggers. I am passionate about winter sports.

WW: What was your reaction to finding you are one of five finalists?

AJ:Absolute shock. I never win anything, and in fact, my friends joke I have the worst luck around. An example: I once flew to France for a wedding, got lost, rear-ended someone and then missed the wedding. You know: the entire reason I went to France in the first place. Welcome to my life. But it's these misadventures en route that have helped me build an audience. I am always self-deprecating in a humorous way.

WW: Why should people vote for you, apart from the obvious hometown pride?

AJ: Because I am honestly the best candidate and have been working toward this for years.

Since this is a blogging opportunity, I have been heavily promoting my campaign via social media sites like Twitter (@CrazyCanuckblog) and Facebook. I also created two Whrrl stories [Whrrl is a social media site that is heavily used among the top bloggers.] My first Whrrl story was about why people should vote for me. The second is a campaign idea I had to get Ellen Degeneres to get her to do "Just One Tweet" for me.

I've been trying to be really out-of-the-box trying to generate some excitement about this campaign, and I think it's working.

WW: If you make it, how do you plan on celebrating (apart from actually, you know, going to the Olympics)?

AJ: I'm definitely going to throw a party for all my friends who supported me. My husband and I are in the final stages of putting a granite counter top on a bar area with an old-fashioned soda fountain. That, plus our 84-inch HDTV, will make our basement a stellar party location, and we'll need an open house. I can't think of a better excuse.

Oh yeah, and I'll probably go to Disneyland.

WW: Anything else you'd like to share?

AJ: People can vote for me daily at officewintergames.com until November 29. There are two categories. I'm a semi-finalist in the female division and there is a good lil' Colorado Springs semi-finalist in the student division. Be sure to give him some love, too.

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