My Top Stories of 2013 (5-9)

Part two of my Top 13 of 2013 continues today with 5-9. For a look back at 10-13, click here. Check back on Dec. 31 for stories 1-4.

9. Okay, so I’m cheating a bit as I start the single-digit entries on the list. I’m instead including an entire four-part package, not just one story. My editor at Sports Illustrated asked me for technology stories from four different sports—NBA, NFL, MLB and Winter Olympics—to run alongside video. It was a fun package to work on, spanned multiple months and allowed me to discuss athlete tracking, high-end shoe construction, digital scouting and the art of manufacturing snow.

8. Tracking data has turned into key factor across a variety of sports, but there had been no way to do so in tennis until Babolat unveiled the world’s first connected tennis racket. I was in Boulder, Colo., to test out the racket for the first time in public for Popular Mechanics, an interesting foray into tennis movements and data tracking. For the story, click here.

7. Survivor has proven one of the most popular and longest-lasting reality TV shows ever and host—and now producer—Jeff Probst has been there from the start. I chatted with him for a TIME article discussing the most intriguing power plays in the show’s history. And he didn’t disappoint with his passion and knowledge of the game.

6. 2013 was an interesting year for bridges, the most intriguing the new Bay Bridge opening. I explored the art of cable-stay and suspension bridges early in the year for Popular Mechanics and then took closer examination at the Bay Bridge specifically for PopMech articles both online and in print.

5. Attending the Champion’s League Final in Wembley Stadium was a treat all its own, but then exploring the stadium and discussing the architecture with Lord (yeah, he’s been knighted) Norman Foster was an additional pleasure. I was able to write about how Foster attempted to create a new legacy for the famed London stadium in a Sports Illustrated article.

My Chat with Survivor’s Jeff Probst

I’ve watched Survivor since the start. Sure, I’ve missed a season here and there, but the fascination with social politics intrigues me and keeps me returning. I wanted to learn what Jeff Probst, the host of the show for all these years and now also an executive producer, has seen from his vantage point. I wanted to know which power plays went down as the best in Survivor history. And he was ready to share. Coming into the interview I didn’t know if I would have to prod Jeff along, but he’d discussed the list with producers, wrangled it in his own mind and showed his love of the show with a thought-out explanation on why his five were the tops. Oh, he also left me guessing as to what this season’s twist would be. Read my full interview with Jeff in my TIME Entertainment story here.

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