Former Sandspit student answers in the form of a question

  • Jul. 8, 2015 1:00 p.m.

By Evelyn von AlmassyHaida Gwaii ObserverSandspit-raised Ian Giesbrecht appeared in front of a television audience of 25-million people June 18, pitting his quiz skills against two others in North America’s most popular gameshow of 32-years and counting, Jeopardy!.Every evening Mr. Giesbrecht takes his almost-three-year-old daughter, Molly, to the Rideau Canal in Ottawa, and it was here that the Observer found him on his cell, the day prior to the airing of the pre-recorded episode. “I haven’t made the paper since grade nine honour roll!” he said, remembering fondly how his former principal, Mr. Sample, would take the honour roll students to lunch at the Sandspit Inn where they could chose any three items off the menu.”I live in Ottawa [now], but it’ s not home,” he said. “I always say that I am from Sandspit. I am pretty proud about thatÂ…I wish I was there. It’s still home – I was there for five years. I miss the land, and especially the people.”Mr. Giesbrecht moved to Sandspit in Grade 5 and may have left when he was 14, but he’s still very much connected to the islands. His parents, Linda and Murray Giesbrecht, live in Tlell now, where the Jeopardy !contestant visits often with his wife, Allana, and two children Molly and Sam (at the end of the first round, Mr. Giesbrecht successfully named the neck of a dinosaur, to which Sam was thrilled to see his dad show his dinosaur knowledge on TV).For the show, he said he had been mentally preparing himself for a number of years. The process for qualifying for Jeopardy! involves on-line tests, which he had taken three times over the last six six years. Each time his name was put into a contestant pool for 18 months. He also participated in two in-person interviews in Seattle, and one in Toronto. Finally, one day when Mr. Giesbrecht arrived home from work his wife told him the contestant coordinator from Jeopardy had phoned, to which Mr. Giesbrecht replied, “No they didn’t!” But yes, they did. Soon, he and his family bundled up in blankets for their taxi drive to the Ottawa airport, so they could be ready for the Californian heat without the burden of lugging around their winter coats. When the big day came and went, the question on everyone’s mind was ‘what’s it like to be on this iconic show?’ But Mr. Giesbrecht must reluctantly tell them “the day is a total blur. I remember how I felt: I was terrified! I thought that I was ready – I’ve been on National Radio [as a CBC announcer and producer in Prince Rupert].” But Alex Trebek was his idol for 30 years, and he was starstruck. “He was one of the guys who were my heroes,” he said. And all he could think of at the time is what kind of small talk he could possibly make with Mr. Trebek in the customary preamble of the show.If “I had a dream board, it would include Canadian geography, hockey, music, and pop culture.” He knew that his weaknesses were opera and British monarchs, so he studied up on those topics. Mr. Giesbrecht said that overall, it was super fun, and further than I’ve ever been tested.” Those who knew Mr. Giesbrecht in his school days are understandably proud of his achievement on the show, regardless of the outcome. “My favourite memory of Ian is [he was in all of my plays that I put on],” said Sharlene Scofield, one of Mr. Giebrecht’s previous teachers in Sandspit. “But my favourite was from Alice in Wonderland; he was the knave that stole the tarts. He had such a sense of humour and social intelligence.” Mr. Giesbrecht did not come up with the answer of the Final Jeopardy! question of who wrote Pioneer Girl. It was not Louisa May Alcott as he guessed but rather Laura Ingalls Wilder. Unfortunately he lost his $6,100 bet and finished with $100. Second place won $14,801 and first place $17,201. “Knowing what was going to happen, it was hard to watch the show with people who wanted me to do well,” said Mr. Giesbrecht. “It didn’t feel great to watch myself lose. I had a lot of supporters around me, which was nice. I’m happy I came across as likable, and I’m interested to know just how many games the guy who beat me can win, because he felt unbeatable.”

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