This Jacksonville company touches everything you see at the Olympics
A Jacksonville company is an instrumental part of getting the Olympics onto your television screen.
SMT, which has operations in both Jacksonville and Durham, North Carolina, acts as the "gatekeeper" between the action at Olympic events and what NBC displays to those watching in the U.S. – and Jacksonville resident Stass Iordanovis in charge of managing the systems behind the scenes this year in Rio.
Iordanov, who is project manager for SMT, oversees a team of nine employees who make sure SMT's software, which manages an ever-growing database of athlete's scores across the wide spectrum of Olympic sports, runs smoothly. He is also on hand to troubleshoot and make sure everything is operating smoothly.
"We're doing all the events. We're acting as the gateway for all of the scoring for NBC. Whether it's graphics or data, it's coming from our systems," Iordanov said.
Iordanov, who starting working for IDS in 1998 before it was acquired by SMT, is now a veteran in helping televised sporting events go as planned. It's something he's done at every Olympics since Sydney, Australia in 2000, including Beijing, London and Sochi, Russia. You'll be able to find Iordanov on the sidelines at most of the big moments at the Olympics. When it comes to Rio, some of his most memorable moments are seeing Michael Phelps in action or Usain Bolt winning his third consecutive 100m gold medal.
It's his job to make sure the details are effortlessly transferred to those watching at home.
"When it's happening, it's part of my job to see that the data for the event comes through and I can assist anyone doing that. I can troubleshoot and give my expertise," Iordanov said.
And while he's making sure the events go on without a hitch, he's also getting to watch it in real time.
So far, Iordanov said it's been going pretty smoothly, though some of the conditions in Rio have led to increased difficulty in setting up equipment.
"It's probably one of the toughest Olympics in terms of complexity and issues. Brazil is having its own issues and the infrastructure is very difficult in the way it's set up," Iordanov said.
His work at the Olympics takes more than a month. Iordanov and his team arrive at the site of the Olympics about three weeks before the opening ceremonies, and stay until the games end. The process begins far before that, though – it's set into motion about two years before the Olympic games, during which Iordanov will meet with SMT and meeting with stakeholders to make sure the software and the product is up to par.
Being on the scene is Iordanov's favorite part of the job. The former track and field champion, who competed internationally before emigrating from Russia to the U.S., enjoys watching the events, though it's something he gets to do less and less as he's managing the action.
Some of his favorite events have been Sydney and Athens in 2004. Another personal favorite is the most recent Winter Olympics in Sochi, his hometown.
And while you might see some news outlets complaining about the accommodations at the Olympic Village, you won't see Iordanov posting rants online.
"I would say I'm a veteran – you have to adjust to what's offered. I wouldn't say we have luxe accommodations, but I don't have any complaints. You have to deal with it," Iordanov said.
Overall, he said this Olympics has been smooth for the team – and, though there have been issues, it's been a good experience. And while Iordanov also does other sporting events for SMT, including events like the PGA Tour and NFL games, the Olympics is the crown jewel of his work.
"It's almost like dream work," Iordanov said.