Sunday, February 19, 2006
record amount of events: good! A record amount of fluff: bad! Still,
NBC continues to impresss after a full week of coverage. Let's
• After Bob tells us what's coming up
tonight, we head straight over to the Men's 4x10k Cross Country
relay, which is in the middle of a white out. Because of the snowy
conditions, you can easily tell which cameras are far away with
big lenses and which are close up and attached to something mobile
(a snowmobile maybe?). The snowmobile cam is pretty nice, because
it can get so close that it makes you feel like you're right in
the middle of the pack.
Now, had you been watching Olympic coverage
Saturday afternoon like I was, you would know that the big rivalry
in this event is between Norway and Italy. If you had NOT been
watching Saturday afternoon, that's okay, because Al Trautwig told
us all about that rivalry again, and then NBC even provided us
with 30 seconds of fluff on the matter. I suppose that since this
rivalry began with the Italian win in Lillehammer in '94, a Norwegian
victory in Turin would be some sort of revenge.
And just a note
about the competition itself: a lot of winter events look, well,
easy. In curling, you're just pushing a rock. Luge, skeleton, and
bobsleigh are all just riding a sled down a hill. I know, I know...
all of these people are probably in great shape, I'm just saying
they don't LOOK that hard. Cross-country skiers, by comparison,
are WORKING. HARD. I'd bet that 90 percent of the population could
ride a luge all the way down the track, but probably only one percent
could complete a lap of the Italian cross country circuit. And
half of that one percent would probably drop dead after crossing
the finish line. Cross country skiing is HARD.
• Over at
ice dancing, Dick Button lets us know that if "Sally and Joe
Front Porch" think they can do that (ice dance), they've got
another thing coming. Hey! I know Sally and Joe Front Porch, and
they're not deserving of Dick Button's scorn.
• Tonight on
ice dancing, we find out what a "twizzle" is, and despite
what you'd think, it has nothing to do with Snoop Dogg and his
foshizzle. Rather, it's when the individual skaters spin on one
skate. Dick Button and Tom Hammond try some Snoop-speak in making
a joke about twizzling. Rarely have two people sounded less hip.
Hughes fluff. Who? Oh yeah, the girl who's replacing Michelle Kwan.
And no, I don't mean the "woman" who's replacing Kwan.
Hughes is only 16. Oh, and it's not just fluff about Hughes, it's
all about all of the female figure skaters. And why are we talking
about them two days before their event? Because it's paying the
bills. Fine. Let it pay the bills two days from now. Cut out the
fluff for now, 'kay? The four minutes we spent TALKING about Tuesday's
women's figure skating competition is time we could have spent
WATCHING the ice dancing that's going on RIGHT NOW. NBC, why do
you think people would rather watch fluff about upcoming skating
instead of watching skating that's going on behind you?
on the cross country course, that rivalry that NBC has been touting
for two days is officially dead. The Norwegian team is nowhere
to be seen from the front of the pack, where the Italians are running
away...uh, skiing away?... from the competition. And who is the
last Italian skier? Zorro! Or at least, that's Cristian Zorzi's
nickname. There's a tiny bit of fluff about him, but it's only
about 15 seconds long, and I'm not going to count that. The Italians
win easily with the Germans and Swedes right behind them. The Norwegians?
Fifth, and more than a minute back. Some rivalry. Heck, Norway
even lost to the French! And they call themselves Scandinavian.
has a little fun with Zorzi's nickname, joking that only Cristian's
closest friends refer to him as Don
• Off to the bobsleigh,
where American Todd Hays will try to move up from sixth place into
medal contention. He doesn't, but commentator Bob Neumeier takes
us behind the scenes of bobsleigh preparation for a minute of bobsled
fluff. I might have been willing to count this as events if they
would have shown us anything surprising, but mostly it's just
racers "visualizing" the course, which means we get lots
of footage of guys in helmets and tights dancing around with their
eyes closed as they "drive" through an imaginary course. Fluff.
in the ice dancing arena, Galit Chait of Israel is wearing a poodle
skirt. No, not a skirt with a picture of a poodle on it, more like
a skirt that looks like it's assemble from poodles. Dick Button
calls it a big powder puff.
• Enough with the sweet stories,
today Jimmy Roberts takes us to the edge on tonight's version of
Chevrolet Olympic Moments, as we talk about Shaun Palmer. Some
consider him the best snowboarder ever, but Shaun had a bit of
a drinking problem. So much so that one day, after having an argument
with his girlfriend, he overdosed on alcohol and cocaine. Okay,
maybe it was a bit more than just a drinking problem.
in the hospital, he decided to turn his life around, and in a
few short months of training, he qualified for the Olympic team
age 37 in the snowboard cross event. Sadly, While training for
Turin, he tore his Achilles tendon and never got the chance to
compete in Italy. However, Jimmy points out, the Olympic dream
saved his life.
Is this all very sad? Yes. But what kind of
precedent does this set? Are we now going to run fluff stories
on every athlete that made the Olympics, but
on every athlete that didn't make the Olympics? NBC's going to
need to dedicate
channel to coverage if they want to do that.
• Dick's dissing
the twizzles! You know, the moves of the ice dancers from Ukraine.
He also isn't to fond of the women catching their feet and pulling
them over their head. Speak for yourself, Button!
• We take
a break from ice dancing to see the Italian cross country team
pick up their medals. All four are singing! Excellent! Of course,
the entire crowd is singing, too, but leadership starts at the
top. They're happy and singing. Now THAT'S what an medal acceptance
Bob also comments again on Zorzi, saying that
he got that nickname in Salt Lake City when he donned a cape and
after competition, which Bob says he does after every successful
But wait! We're not done with this segment,
yet. Now Bob has an interview with... Jerome Bettis? What? Is the
in the Winter Olympics now? Perhaps the Ice Bowl is now a permanent
part of the Games. But no, it turns out Bettis is here because
NBC hired him to be a part of their new Sunday Night Football
Okay, everyone loves The Bus, but four minutes of fluff on
him to promote NFL football? Just to provide a timeline, the initial
broadcast of Sunday Night Football on NBC is SIX-AND-A-HALF
away. But at least you now know Jerome Bettis will be there.
Mark your calendars.
• On to speed skating for the Women's 1,000
meters. And what do we see? Just the competition for about 20 minutes.
• Shani Davis gets his medal and... does
this video go with this audio? Shani doesn't even look like he
knows the anthem is playing. Shani! You just won the gold! Smile!
Joey Cheek only has the silver and he looks like a kid a Christmas.
• Okay, I've heard it again. Shani Davis is
either the first African-American to win an individual winter Olympic
gold medal OR he's the first black person to win an individual
winter Olympic gold medal. Which is it? (And no, they're not the
• Shani Davis and Chad Hedrick are
having a little spat. Boy, shouldn't that
skate exciting? Repeat those sentences for a minute-and-a-half
and you have 90 seconds of fluff!
• Several minutes of fluff
on Tanith and Ben. Tanith was from Canada and didn't have U.S.
citzenship, but she and Ben became dance partners anyway. They
made beautiful music together, or... uh... danced to beautiful
music together. They missed the Salt Lake Olympics because they
were from different countries, but she finally got U.S. citizenship
on December 31st, 2005, and suddenly they're the hottest team in
the U.S. She thinks bringing a gold back to the United States would
be a repayment for everything America has given her. Danith, just
seeing you twizzle is payment enough for us. Oh, three minutes
• Two ice dancers in a row have fallen. It's like
that ice is slippery or something.
• Gah! Now it's three of
the last four couples who have hit the ice the hard way. Don't
ask me how she'd rig it, but I suspect the French judge.
Tanith and Ben dance. Wow. They don't make it into first, but only
because they were so far behind from the first night of competition.
They were certainly the best tonight (I know, the judges
but what do they know?). One more steamy performance like that
and they'll have trouble in Turin
to keep the
• At last, we get back to the final run in the
two-man bobsleigh. American Todd Hayes makes a mediocre run and
falls out of medal contention. Everyone else makes it down without
incident and the Germans win. My NASCAR gene was hoping for a spectacular
crash resulting in an unexpected shift in the standings. I guess
the ice dancing falls will have to satisfy that craving.
Five hours of coverage! Excellent, but tiring.
NBC is doing well so far, but their fluff count keeps creeping
up slowly, night by night. And it doesn't reassure me when four
minutes of tonight's broadcast were devoted to figure skating events
that don't happen for another two days. We'll see what happens.
See you tomorrow!