Monday, February 13, 2006
a running start! In the time it takes you to read this, tonight's
recap will have already begun!
• Boom! NBC isn't fooling around tonight!
The Olympic theme song starts playing and 30 seconds later we're
into pairs figure skating. Amazing! The only downside is now they've
got my hopes up. Could they really have so much event-time planned
that they can't even play the whole theme song? We'll see.
• Ahhhh...it's a teaser! After the first
couple's figure skating, we jump into the normal "coming up
tonight" intro. Still, it's only a minute, and I kind of like
starting immediately with an event.
• And now, for all of you NASCAR fans,
crashing athletes! Women in both the downhill and the luge are
shown losing control in what appear to be very painful ways. Events
or fluff? Events! Technically, both sets of crashes were in practices,
but they were newsworthy things we hadn't seen, and they definitely
• Jamie Sale and David Pelletier of Canada
demonstrate how to perform a lift in figure skating. Events or
fluff? Events! This is a little trickier of a call, but here's
my reasoning. My biggest complaint about snowboarding so far has
been that the commentators haven't told us anything about the sport
other than the boarders are "getting good air." That
means almost nothing to me. However, here Sale and Pelletier are
showing us an actual technique in figure skating, from how it's
performed to how you know when it's actually good. It's education
about the... *ahem*... "sport" of figure skating.
similar to the reason I like Dick Button as a commentator. Instead
of just yelling about how great these athletes are (I'm looking
at you, snowboard analysts), NBC has actually put together a
little package to show us good technique. My lone complaint?
Pelletier made a special point about how they knew a lift was
good by the sound their skates made. I know it's within NBC's
to emphasize the audio of the skates crossing the ice, but I
rarely heard them.
• Excellent analysis of the Chinese skaters
Shen Xue and Zhao Hongbo. Hongbo, you might remember from Saturday,
had an Achilles injury. Slow motion video shows us where his skate
because he was in pain during come crucial moves. Nice work!
• Chevrolet Olympic Moments with Jimmy
Roberts. Jimmy tells of of Chinese skating coach Yao Bin. In 1979,
he was part of China's first figure skating pair ever sent into
world competition. They went to the world championships in Germany
and were so bad that they were laughed at. Curse you, German fans!
Anyway, 25 years later, he's coaching the Chinese team and has
three pairs in the top five.
The transition on that story from
past to present was a little abrupt (didn't anything happen between
1979 and now? Not everyone who finishes in last place eventually
coaches three top five pairs), but overall, the story wasn't
actually that bad. Can you believe this? I've actually not hated
Jimmy Roberts stories so far in this Olympics. Of course, it
helped that this one was only three-and-a-half minutes long, so
much time for Jimmy to destroy it.
• Reporter Tracy Wilson shows us how the
new skating scoring system works. Excellent! How things work! I
know that NBC is spending a lot of time on all of this figure skating
minutiae because that's what the majority of the audience is tuning
in for, but I really wish they'd do this much explanation as to
how other sports are scored. It's actually very interesting.
• And just like that, we get to contrast
the excellent coverage that figure skating is receiving to the
extreeeeeme coverage of snowboarding. Although they do pull
out the Stro-motion (which I love) to show the air that one of
the boarders gets, I still don't know how "air" is scored
by the judges. In other sports, I try to guess what the athlete's
scores might be. In snowboarding, all I do is watch, say "oooo...pretty," and
wait to be surprised. The video is fine, but NBC's analysis is
• Over to the Men's 500 m Speed Skating.
What is there to say? The coverage of speed skating for the winter
games is as flawless as NBC's swimming
coverage was in the summer
games. The commentary, the production values...everything. If all
Olympic coverage was this good, this site would cease to be.
• Dick Button has now used the phrase "a
personal medal" for two different sets of skaters. Is
that sort of like "a moral victory?" I appreciate that
he's trying to be nice, but I could make my own personal medals
here at home. A personal medal and a quarter will get me a gumball
• Ad watch: I really like these Exxon-Mobil
ads showing little kids performing a simple action that later turns
out to be a skill they use in an Olympic sport. These ads are the
result of your expensive gas prices at work!
• As Chinese skater Yu Fengtong falls
across the finish line in the Men's 500-meter Speed Skating, analyst
Dan Jansen immediately explains that Olympic officials will have
to add to his time because the rules state that the clock stops
the blade of the skate crosses the finish line. Instant rule explanation!
I love speed skating! Oh, even better? U.S. skater Joey Cheek wins
the gold and we get to zoom along with him thanks to skater-cam!
• Fluff on Maxim Marinin and Tatyana Totmiyanina.
And wow, what an opening! In footage from a previous event, Maxim
dropped Tatyana from the high point of a lift, knocking her out
cold. I'll admit it: I jumped when it happened. The rest of the
segment was all about how they got their confidence back from such
a horrible fall. Yes, it was fluff, but it was very well done.
I wonder if I feel that way just because it started so shockingly.
Probably, but it was good anyway.
• It must be disaster night on NBC. We
opened with crashing skiers and lugers, and now Chinese figure
skater Zhang Dan banged up her knee on a quad Salchow when she
completely missed the landing. Amazingly, the couple shakes it
off, goes back out, and finishes their routine, complete with all
of the difficult moves and jumps. With that fall, they're clearly
out of medal contention, but this is one time when we'd have to
admit that maybe Dick Button is right after all. Maybe certain
people DO deserve personal medals.
Wait...they do get a medal. Okay, how does that work?
How do you completely blow the middle of your routine and still end
a medal? Don't even try to tell me this is a sport.
close the night with the Russian national anthem celebrating the
Russian skater's victory. They don't sing, either. Does nobody
know their national anthem? Shouldn't each country's Olympic committee
have some kind of class? It wouldn't have to be that long. Singing
the Anthem 101. Smiling on the Podium 201. I'm thinking an hour
of credit for each.
I can hardly believe it. A mere 11 minutes of
fluff on a figure skating night! Someone must have replaced all
of the NBC executives when I wasn't looking. Keep it up, Peacock!