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Sort of like the 2000 Rockwood Olympic Watch, only colder.

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March 26


Wednesday, February 13, 2002

Julie writes...

"It seems like everyone is really, like, excited and proud that the Americans swept the snowboard competition at the Olympics. Now I didn't watch (probably pretty obvious) but did anyone ELSE even compete? I mean, I really can't picture Sven or Vlad out there tearing it up. When snowboarding was proposed as an Olympic sport (probably by someone pretty American), did the German guys say, 'Yeah, let's! We were just going to propose it ourselves!'

Again, I know absolutely nothing in terms of background on this event, just some thoughts. Nice Olympic page. My mom is the only person I know who actually likes the fluff but then she watches curling too."

Yes, other countries competed, and in fact, only one American was even favored to win a medal. Of course, you would hardly know any of this from NBC's coverage, which is almost always "America versus the world." Not that leaning toward the home team is bad, but it seems like NBC takes it to the extremes sometimes.

As for curling, NBC hasn't devoted any primetime coverage to it yet, but if both the U.S. men and women continue in their upset-minded ways, you can expect Bob Costas to be trotting out the flag any day now.
posted by Brian Lundmark at 12:34 AM

Grrrr....Jimmy Roberts is back. I had hoped that yesterday had marked the end of him, and now I'm wondering if I just somehow missed his segment. No matter, Jimmy once again turned in his smarmy, manipulative style of story about Picabo Street, who later finished way out of contention in the women's downhill competition.

A side note, I actually predicted she wouldn't win due to a quote from all of this prerace buildup. I don't remember the exact quote, but it boiled down to Picabo saying that she thought about the crash all the time (I'm sure someone has the correct phrasing--let me know and I'll print it later). Downhill racing is a lot like the other sport NBC is advertising, NASCAR. If a race car driver thinks about hitting the wall whenever he drives, he'll never be able to push himself hard enough to actually win the race. Similarly, if you're flying down a hill at 70 mph, you'll never have the will power to push yourself to 71 mph if all you think about is crashing. Picabo should be commended for showing the spirit to try, but clearly she wasn't as into it as she was before.

Anyway, back to why Jimmy Roberts is no good (I know you were all waiting). Once again, I'll compare his style to Jim McKay, who later in the broadcast did a nice piece on U.S. skater Todd Elledge. Both pieces have the overly dramatic music. Both have the slow-motion close-ups and oversaturated color shots. Both have relevant clips from the athletes former accomplishments. The difference is in who tells the story.

In his segment, Jim McKay said three, maybe four sentences, tops. He relied on quotes spoken by the participants in his piece. The only time McKay spoke was when it was necessary to transition from one story element to another. In other words, McKay let the story reveal itself to us.

By comparison, Jimmy Roberts talked nearly non-stop for his entire segment, allowing in quotes by the athletes only when they fit into the story that he wanted to tell. Whereas McKay let the athletes tell you how they felt, Roberts told you how you should feel. It's a subtle difference, but that's what makes the difference between being an Emmy-winning reporter and being the most hated man on the Rockwood 2002 Olympic Watch.
posted by Brian Lundmark at 12:35 AM

Oh, I almost forgot, that big long Jimmy Roberts fluff piece earlier? We could have seen two or three more skiers instead of that. Thanks NBC.
posted by Brian Lundmark at 12:36 AM

What? The Canadian pairs figure skaters still haven't won? What a shock. Yes, I know, they got robbed. And I know there's now supposedly an investigation going on (something about the French judge--figures). So what's going to happen? The Rockwood 2002 Olympic Watch knows the answer:


The Olympics have a long history of not changing their mind even on obvious injustices. Don't fool yourself into thinking this will be any different. There will be lots of talking, and somebody French will get fired for something, but in two weeks it's going to be the Russians flying home with gold medals around their necks, and no amount of coverage that NBC can throw at this will make it any different, so let's just move on, shall we?
posted by Brian Lundmark at 12:36 AM

It turns out that NBC does have one of those rolling cameras (see Monday's posts) at speed skating after all ! However, they only used it once. Why? It's so cool! And those skaters are going 35 mph +, so it even looks effective. I can hardly believe they'd turn down an opportunity to use a fancy toy like that. Hopefully there will be more of it in future races. Generally speaking, I've been happy with NBC's speed skating coverage, and tonight they even got a close American gold to spice it up. Now if someone could just figure out what button they need to press to get the rolling camera onscreen, we'd have something.
posted by Brian Lundmark at 12:36 AM

In further praise of rolling cameras, the men's moguls competition had one that followed the skiers downhill. What a difference! When you look at them straight on, the mogul jumping is impressive. But when you actually follow them down the mountain, it's impressive and scary! Kudos to the technical team for using that shot repeatedly.
posted by Brian Lundmark at 12:36 AM

Lou writes,

"Hey Brian!

You're a Trekkie, and you're watching the Olympics... I can't believe you haven't noticed this article! My Trekkie friend claims it's a joke. What do you think??"

First of all, it's "Trekker."

Secondly, I don't think they have a chance. Somewhere near the end of the run, they'll all have to stop to examine their feelings, and then the race will be lost.

Plus, they'll probably be out of phase.

Oh, by the way, anyone who insists on being called a "Trekker" instead of a "Trekkie" is badly in need of a tan.
posted by Brian Lundmark at 3:24 PM

In yet another reason why I'm not keeping as close a watch on this Olympics as the last, I'm going to miss most, if not all, of tonight's coverage. I have prior committments. There's always the possiblity I'll get something up, but don't count on it.
posted by Brian Lundmark at 3:25 PM


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