Orinda Trivia Buff Competes on Jeopardy!

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(Kathleen Ostler, Photographer)
Gabriel Ostler enjoys reading Alex Trebek’s book titled, The Answer Is . . .: Reflections on My Life. The book was given to Ostler during the June taping of the show, which aired Nov. 28, 2020.

    Gabriel Ostler, competitive by nature, has always loved games and sports. Trivia and the ability to latch onto free-flowing facts earned him an invite as a Jeopardy! contestant.
    “I grew up watching Jeopardy! with my parents,” said Ostler. “We recorded it on VHS tapes so we didn’t miss a night. And yes, mom, dad and I were competitive.”
    Ostler, a 2014 Miramonte High School graduate, attended the University of Notre Dame on a swimming scholarship, majoring in English. On the side, he hosted pub trivia games. He may have inherited a love for his favorite and strongest subject, sports, from his Orinda dad, Scott, a San Francisco Chronicle sports writer.
    When Ostler heard about Jeopardy! soliciting applications for players a couple of years ago, he thought, “What do I have to lose?” After two unanswered online responses, the third proved successful. He applied in February, received an acceptance in April for the show taped in mid-June.
    “It all happened pretty quickly,” he said.
    Ostler described the day as interesting and long for all the contestants; Alex Trebek, the iconic Jeopardy! host since 1984, proved “super impressive; like a machine,” according to Ostler. He marveled that despite taping five shows in one day, Trebek rarely had a misstep. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the contestants served as the live audience when not competing. Although he didn’t win during the final taping of the day, Ostler nearly ran the sports category about team mascots.
    Viewers of the Nov. 28 airing learned Ostler has never watched a Star Trek movie nor ever tasted coffee. He told Trebek both make good conversation starters at parties. Off camera, Trebek asked Ostler about teaching youngsters to swim and which stroke he considered the hardest to teach. Ostler said the breaststroke and Trebek replied he had the most trouble with the butterfly “where I always got too tired.”
    Ostler was on his way to Ohio to work as an announcer for a minor league baseball team when COVID-19 squelched those plans. Currently, he teaches swimming, his favorite sport, to young children at a swim school in Lafayette while waiting for a dream job of announcing or commentating about sports. He knows lots of trivia to keep any one-way conversation flowing smoothly. In the meantime, he also becomes a licensed real estate agent this month.
    Of the Jeopardy! experience, Ostler said, “Alex Trebek was exactly as personable as you would expect. I was lucky to be in his presence even for a little bit.”

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