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Universal Sports: Keeper of the Olympic Flame

While Olympic Games fever sparks up for a few weeks every other year, Universal Sports, a joint venture of InterMedia Partners and NBCUniversal, keeps the flame burning as the year-round multiplatform destination of Olympic sports.

When Olympic gold medalist Lindsey Vonn suffered multiple injuries last week, Universal Sports was covering the Alpine Ski World Championship in Austria. In fact, it was Universal Sports’ footage of the horrific crash that was seen on NBC Nightly News, ESPN’s SportsCenter and CNN.

As the Sochi Games draw closer, Universal Sports has and will televise 25 World Championship events including snowboarding, speed skating, bobsled and ice skating.

Viewers of the network, which televises 1,200 hours from 30 sports annually, can get a look at some of the U.S. athletes that figure to be performing in Sochi a year from now: Figure skaters Ashley Wagner and 17-year-old Gracie Gold; skiiers Ted Ligety and Michaela Shifrin, who leads the World Cup skiing standings; and bobsledders Steve Holcomb and Lolo Jones, the former Olympics hurdler hoping to medal in her new sport.

“As we are currently in the middle of the winter sports season, our network is developing and ultimately unfolding several story lines for figure skating, Alpine skiing, bobsled and speed skating, which are sure to play out next year in Sochi,” Dean Walker, senior vice president of production at Universal Sports, said. The network’s also gearing up its news, highlights and profile show, Countdown to Sochi.

ESPN will premiere a similarly titled show in August, as part of its planned coverage on the ground from Russia that will include a team of writers, editors and video producers. The worldwide leader will also feature OlympicCast, a centralized hub on featuring live results, running commentary, fan reaction, videos and poll questions. News and highlights will also be accessible on the go via the SportsCenter feed app.

Fox Sports has not yet disclosed its plans for Sochi. During the London Games last summer, launched a multimedia site that housed editorial, videos, photo galleries and social-media integration. In addition to the content provided by writers, producers, and editors on-site in London, there were contributions from past Olympians.