Sunday, February 12, 2006
resigns, the Flying Tomato wins, and the fluff stays low. Will
2006 be a banner year for low fluff? Keep reading and see!
• We lead with... uh... is this fluff
or is this news about Michelle Kwan resigning? Slow motion, sad
music, pictures of past Olympics... this indicates fluff. However,
there IS actually some new information on Kwan resigning and Emily
Hughes taking her place (at least, it's new for anyone who hasn't
been watching TV at all on Sunday). I'm going to make an unusual
ruling in this case and call it a split decision. This whole segment
was four minutes and thirty seconds long, so I'm going to say 2:30
fluff and 2:00 news/events.
• Out to the K95 Ski Jump. We find out
that for jumper Matti Hautamaeki ski jumping is his full time job!
And then..., ohhhh yes. Ski jump cam! NBC has rigged up a Skycam to
fly down the hill parallel to each flying skier. In short, it's
awesome. It's a little behind each jumper as he takes off, but
then it's like you're flying along right beside him. Color me
• Men's Halfpipe Qualifying. I like watching
the halfpipe competition, but the analysts really need to give
me a little more information than just "he gets great air." I
can see that, but I don't know how that scores. Is height actually
scored? Is speed down the course scored? Does each boarder need
to do some preset moves? I don't know because NBC isn't telling
• German Georg Hackl makes his last luge
run and doesn't medal. How un-Hackl-esque.
• From the good timing department, moments
after Tony Benshoof of the U.S. made his last run in the luge,
NBC ran the Home Depot ad that features him. Unfortunately for
Benshoof, ad appearences don't bring him any luck, and he finishes
• In his first showing on the medal stand,
U.S. speed skater Chad Hedrick sings along with the national anthem.
Excellent! The Olympic Watch is always impressed when people sing
• Apolo Anton Ohno fluff. I love, love,
love short track speed skating, but I don't love, love, love vague
flashbacks to previous short track controversies. Really, if they're
going to waste a minute telling us what happened in the past, they
could at least tell a whole story instead of just showing us some
• Fluff on Shaun White, the American favorite
for the snowboard competition. Ironically, this fluff piece ended
up running after White, a.k.a. The Flying Tomato, failed to qualify
for a second-round bye by not finishing in the top six. Anyway,
we learned some interesting things about Mr. Tomato, from his two
sport status (the other being skateboard) to the fact that he owes
some of his skills to his mother telling him to do things that
she thought would slow him down. Interesting? Somewhat. Fluff?
• As Tina Dixon interviews Shaun White
about his qualifying run, he talks about landing "nines and
tens" where everyone else was trying "twelves." And
those are... what? Again, NBC isn't telling me.
• Great sideline reporting on the downhill
from Steve Porino. Bode Miller is running on brand new, once-tested
skis that are on a design so new that they've never actually been
Not only that, Miller's choice to use these demo skis influenced
his teammate Daron Rahlves to use the other pair of said skis.
That's right, there are only two pairs of these skis in the world,
and the U.S. team is using them. Untested. How much more convincing
do you need to proove that downhill skiers are crazy?
• Both Rahlves and Miller had what I could
best describe as mini-fluff pieces about them. They were small
segments, just 45 seconds each, but they were there, and they were
• Steve Porino is reporting from the top
of the mountain again. Now that Bode Miller finished fourth, Daron
Rahlves is switching back
original skis, hoping that Miller was done in by the demo skis.
Unfortunately, it appears the demo skis actually made Miller FASTER,
since Rahlves finishes in seventh place, three spots behind Miller
(ultimately, they ended up fifth and tenth). Whoops! Bad choice
for Rahlves, but great coverage for NBC.
• How big are the Olympic Games? From
experience, I can tell you that a typical college basketball game
is broadcast using six cameras. A college football game
of the week will use twelve. Super Bowl XL used 36. The downhill
skiing competion for the Olympics? I counted at least 22. So production-wise,
the downhill skiing event is nearly two-thirds as big as the Super
Bowl, and that's just ONE EVENT.
• Simulcam! Yes, NBC used this in 2002,
but that doesn't mean it's any less cool. Simply put, it overlays
one video over another, giving us the illusion of two racers on
the course at the same time. Here NBC used it to show us the crucial
point where Antoine Deneriaz of France ran a flawless run while
Austria's Michael Walchhofer, who finished second to the Frenchman,
made a mistake. The margin of victory
in the downhill
is small, and this is a great illustration. Good job, NBC!
• Apolo...OH NO! Ohno makes a crucial
mistake and a tiny slip costs him in the 1,500 m short track event.
Does this really have anything to do with the Olympic Watch? No.
I just wanted to write Apolo OH NO!
• Back on the halfpipe, we're informed
by the announcers repeatedly that it will all come down to Contestant
X's last run. This has been said of almost every contestant. A
if you can say it about everyone, it's probably not worth saying.
Later, Bob Costas informs us that only the better of the boarders'
two runs will count toward the medal. See? This is something that
the halfpipe commentators could have said an hour ago that would
have saved me some confusion.
• Shaun White wins the halfpipe for the
second U.S. gold of the Turin Olympics. But will he sing? He's
certainly all grins on the medal stand. Annnnnd... no. Well, maybe
they don't teach flying tomatoes the words to the Star Spangled
Banner in high school.
• Just when you thought we were getting
through the night Chevrolet Olympic Moments-free, Jimmy Roberts
reports on Michelle Kwan. You might think it's impressive that
Jimmy could pull together a fluff piece on Kwan resigning so quickly.
Not really. It's clear when you watch the piece that most of the
footage was shot as a salute to Kwan's career. But thanks to the
miracle of editing, they were able to take most of that footage
and use it as... well, as a salute to Kwan's career, the obvious
change is that it ended a week or so early.
Galling quote by Jimmy? He said that there was
no sadder moment in Utah than Kwan skating in the post-competition
exhibition in 2002
holding back tears because she didn't win gold. Really? No sadder
moment? She did still win the bronze, after all. Don't you think that maybe
the person who finished fourth behind Kwan might have had a sadder moment?
• Bob Costas interviewing Shaun "The
Flying Tomato" White is fluff. Nothing but fluff. However,
I find a certain sense of glee watching someone as eloquent as
Costas trying to interview a snowboarder who is... well, he's 19
and a gold medal winner, so let's be nice and just say "less
eloquent." The best part is when Bob calls White out on the
Tomato's hope that a gold medal will "bring in the babes." This
is a really unfair thing to do to a 19-year-old, but White makes
the best of it, even when Costas brings up Shaun's desire to meet
Sasha Cohen. What a couple they'd make. The Flying Tomato and the
Cute Tomato. Heh.
Well, I have to say I'm pretty impressed so
far. NBC's event coverage has been excellent and they've managed
to keep the fluff to a minimum. However, single's figure skating
is just around the corner, and given that tonight's broadcast featured
four-and-a-half minutes of fluff to a skater that's no longer
in the Olympics, I think we could all be in for some rough
times ahead. We'll see.