Monday, February 20, 2006
minutes of fluff! Are you kidding me? Wow! Let's jump right into
• After Bob welcomes us, we start the night with Men's Freestyle
Skiing Aerials. Analyst Trace Worthington is pretty good about
breaking down how the scoring for this event works. Essentially,
it's like diving, except instead of jumping down into water, the
athletes are launched upwards off of a snowbank. Oh, and no one
is wearing a Speedo. At least, no one we can see.
And right before
we go to break, Aerial-Ski-Cam! Ooo... now I'm all dizzy. I'm
just going to sit down.
• Not to complain, but the fake athletes
in the AT&T ads are singing and smiling during their fake medal
ceremonies. Would it be too much to ask that our real athletes
do the same? That is, of course, assuming any Americans can make
it to the top of the medal stand again. Yes, I'm looking at you,
• We go from the Freestyle Aerials, where it was night,
to the Women's Super-G, where it is high noon. Hey! It's tape-delayed!
What do you want?
• Austria's Michaela Dorfmeister wins the
Women's Super-G. Well of course! She's the master of Dorf!
let's see if the U.S. men can pull out a medal-winning-run in the
Men's Giant Slalom. First up, the Hermann-ator, Austria's Hermann
Maier. This was impressive, especially considering how badly his
leg was hurt in a motorcycle wreck he had five years ago. Where
did I hear about that? Well, I watched a little of NBC's afternoon
Olympics coverage, or, as I like to call it, "Fluff Central." I
tuned in to see the gold medal women's hockey game, and was instead
treated to story after story of fluff. No wonder the fluff level
is so low during NBC's prime-time coverage. They use up all of
their stories in the afternoons.
• Ice dancing is all about
how Dick Button feels. Just listen to him when he talks. HE likes
the oneness of the dancers. HE likes how they make him feel. HE
likes the dancers' relationships. Me, me, me! I'm certainly no
expert on ice dancing, but I'm betting there's not a "Did
It Make Dick Button Happy" button on those electronic scoring
• U.S. ice dancers Melissa Gregory and
Denis Petukhov are skating to the music of "Romeo and Juliet" but
have changed the story to make it a happy ending. I can hardly
for the Vancouver Olympics, when they'll title their routine "Hearts
of Darkness" and do a happy tribute to "Apocalypse Now" while wearing
Vietman-era camos and skating to music of The
Doors. Only in their version,
Kurtz will break into twizzles! The horror... the horror...
• Jimmy Roberts steps forward
into our night to eat up some more time with Chevrolet Olympic
Moments. "More than anything else," says Jimmy, "The
Olympics is a gathering of people." Really? That's all it
is, more than anything else? Couldn't it maybe be a gathering of
the best athletes on the planet? After all, an angry mob that's
set on, say, burning down a newspaper office that ran an offensive
cartoon is a gathering of people, but that's not the Olympics.
we get to meet some of the people with unusual backgrounds thanks
to Jimmy. Finlay Mickel of Scotland is a skier that likes to play
bagpipes. Australian moguls skier Dale
Begg-Smith is worth possibly $40 million for developing pop-up software earned
him the nickname of "Spam Man" (some might argue that
this makes him LESS than human). Austria's Michaela Dorfmeister,
who earlier won the gold medal in the Women's Super-G, has pet
rats. Ahh... the diversity of human-kind is so... uh... diverse!
Yes! Let us all celebrate! Four minutes of fluff.
• Back to
the Giant Slalom, where we get to see how Bode Miller will disappoint
us this time. Wow! Bode takes the lead! Maybe we all just needed
to be more critical of him earlier. Also, he looked exhausted when
he finished. Earlier in the Games, I probably would have made some
kind of "out all night partying" joke, but at this point,
I think it's pretty obvious that Bode is as disappointed with his
performance as any of his critics are. He's just pushing extra
hard to win something.
But then... Svindal ties Miller, Raich beats
both of them, and the Hermann-ator finishes between them for
second. Now Bode is tied for bronze, with the fastest skiers left
down the hill. Will he luck out and get a medal?
skiers knock him down to sixth. Well, you can't say he's not
the bright daylight of the Giant Slalom, we again return to the
nighttime event of Freestyle Aerials. Only one American qualifies
for the finals. One?! But we're extreeeeme!! Shouldn't we be dominating
• Back to ice dancing, where the Italian
couple that fell last night are apparently so mad at each other
fall that they're not speaking. I'd count this as fluff,
but it's more like pregame. Plus, I find it hilarious.
Fusar-Poli and Maurizio Margaglio take the ice, still barely
making any contact, and then they do their routine. By the end,
smiling! The power of ice dancing has brought them together!
Whatever. Is it just me, or does Margaglio look like Max
dare Galit Chait and Sergei Sakhnovski dance to "Bolero!" The
great Torville and Dean ice danced to that in 1984! It's sacrilege!
Wow. Talk about someone too wound up in their sport. IT'S A FREAKIN'
SONG! They can skate to whatever they want. At least tonight Chait
isn't wearing the poodle dress.
Torville and Dean. Torville and
Dean. Torville and Dean. AAAAAUUUGGGHH!! That was 22 YEARS AGO,
Dick Button! Some of these competitors aren't even old enough
to remember Torville and Dean. I know I'd be happy to forget them,
but DICK BUTTON WON'T LET ME.
• The last group of ice dancers
goes through their warmups. Apparently, red is the dress color
of choice for finals dancing. NBC has promised us no commercials
for the first three couples. We'll see if they can make it.
first couple on the ice, Yelena Grushina and Ruslan Goncharov,
had a program that lost Dick Button's attention. And we've already
established it's all about him.
• Tatyana Navka and Roman
Kostomarov of Russia are next. They're the current leaders, but
Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto are right on their heels. Hey! They're
dancing to "Carmen!" Haven't all kinds of figure skaters
skated to "Carmen" in the past? Why doesn't Dick comment
on that? Oh, because Torville and Dean didn't dance to "Carmen," so
it doesn't matter. Anyway, they skate a clean program and take
over first place.
• After one more couple and 23 minutes
of competition, we do indeed go to NBC's promised advertisements.
up, Tanith and Ben. Awesome. Just awesome. I say gold. But for
Dick, it's all about how it made him feel. It's all about him!
So what do the judges say? Drum roll please...
Second place? Bah!
Ice dancing is a sport without justice. What am I saying? Ice
dancing doesn't deserve to be a sport! Bah, I say! Bah!
Okay, maybe Tanith had a couple of missteps,
but robbed! I say robbed! And I'm not just saying that because
I think Tanith is hot.
• The French
couple of Isabelle Delobel and Olivier Schoenfelder take the ice
to finish out the night. That's a nice
outfit Schoenfelder is wearing.
Is he supposed to be Flash Gordon?
• And now it's night again.
Or, was it night to begin with? I don't remember. Either way, it's
dark, and we return to the ski jump hill, where Team Ski Jumping
is underway. Despite its name, only one jumper is flying off the
hill at a time. Maybe for the Vancouver Olympics in 2010 the IOC
will REALLY make it into a team event. Team Pursuit Ski Jumping,
maybe? Oh! Ski Jumping Cross! Where four jumpers go down the hill
at once and the first two to make it to the bottom of the mountain
qualify for the next round! Ohhhh... that would be AWESOME!
we close the show on a sad note. Long-time announcer Curt
Gowdy died at age 86. In this era of extreeeeeme announcers,
Gowdy's voice would have been welcome for many sports in these
And although this is technically a fluff piece, I'm going to add
another rule (call it the Gowdy Amendment): If you die during the
Olympics, a piece on you won't be considered fluff.
Okay, I obviously could have counted a little
more fluff, but I'm not going to fault NBC for the Gowdy piece. Besides,
with nearly three hours of event coverage in a four-hour show, it
could hardly be any better. Well done, NBC. Well done.