Oh no? Oh yes!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

It's day two of Vancouver. Hopefully things turn out better than on day one.

• Oh no, it's Ohno! Tonight we don't even open with the pretty montage of upcoming events. Instead we jump straight to short track speed skating featuring Dancing With The Stars champion Apolo Anton Ohno. Isn't it a little sad that a reality show about dancing is how he's best known?

• I watched and enjoyed some regular speed skating this afternoon, but I lovvvvvvve short track. The long track events are mostly racing against the clock, so they seem a little impersonal. With short track, your competitor is right there next to you. It's much more dramatic. Especially in the last couple of laps when everyone is jockeying for position.

Also, much like watching NASCAR, the crashes! I know... that's terrible. But at least I'm honest about it.

• A uniform note: do you know who has the most recognizable flag in the world? The United States. Given that, why do the U.S. short track uniforms consist of dark blue bottoms with powder blue tops? Is it really that hard to work stars and/or stripes into a theme?

• Oh yes, Ohno! Apolo trailed the first 11 of the 14 laps in his 1,500-meter qualifier race, and I'm sure I'm not the only one who thought he might be past his prime. Then, in one lap, he made the move from last place all the way to first. As several other skaters crashed behind him, he ended up so far ahead that he coasted across the finish line in first. That's why this sport rules.

• Back in the studio, Bob gives us a recap of last night's torch malfunction. It turns out it wasn't the ice obelisk that malfunctioned, but rather the door that covered it up. Is this fluff? It's a close call. Given that I hadn't heard the explanation before, I'm going to call it news.

• Over to women's moguls skiing, where NBC's announcers Todd Harris and Jonny Moseley tell us that Canada has never won a gold medal in an Olympics that is has hosted. Really? Yes, really. Here look it up yourself. None in Montreal. None in Calgary. Hard to believe, isn't it? But tonight, Canada has high hopes that skier Jennifer Heil could be the one to change all of that.

Uniform note: In women's moguls (what is this event called?) the U.S. competitors uniforms are blue, covered with stars, and have red and white stripes on the sleeves. The even have a big stars-and-stripes USA on their butt! Someone on the ski team should contact the ice skating team to show them how it's done.

• Canada's Kristi Richards skis down the hill while Michael Jackson's "Beat It" plays over the venue's loudspeakers. Do skiers get to pick a song that plays while they're skiing, or is it just random selection? Heather McPhie of the United States apparently isn't willing to leave her musical choice to the whims of others. A close-up as she's at the starter's gate shows that she's listening to her iPod.

• U.S. skier Shannon Bahrke gets 15 seconds of mini-fluff. Her family is a little nuts, she says. I never would have guessed that from her pink hair and dad's handlebar mustache.

• Oh no, it's... Cris Collinsworth. Oh. No. He likes short track speed skating for the same reasons I do. Does this mean Cris and I could hang out and be best buds at the Olympics? I probably dress better than he does, and that doesn't speak well of Cris because I'm not exactly the pinnacle of fashion. Does he like Mexican food? Maybe we can go catch a movie or something.

Anyway, it's time for some Ohno fluff. Cris tells us why Apolo came back for another Olympics. Duh. Because he loves it and short track speed skating is awesome! It's not a bad piece, actually. You know, other than the fact that it's fluff.

All of this segues strangely into Bob asking what would the Olympics look like in the time of Vikings and dragons? Fortunately, an ad for the upcoming movie "How To Train Your Dragon" lets us know. I don't know how the Olympics would have looked then, but hopefully they had a better sound mix, so you could understand what was being said. How can you spend all of this time preparing a special promotional feature for the Olympics and not check the sound?

• Back at short track, NBC has extreme close up in super-slo-mo of a blade of a short track skater's skate. You can actually see it cutting the ice. Very impressive! Then analyst Andy Gabel adds that short track skaters' skates are also offset and slightly curved. Wow! What's with all of the good commentary? I'm going to get spoiled.

• U.S. skater J.R. Celski qualifies in the semifinals of the 1,500-meter and NBC gets a nice close-up shot of his happy parents. They're especially happy because earlier we saw footage of the Olympic qualifying match where Celski got sliced by his own skate and nearly bleeding to death. Man, this Olympics is getting really dangerous.

• Back in the studio, Bob gives us a story on changes to the luge run following Nodar Kumaritashvili's fatal crash yesterday. I'm counting this as news, not fluff. Given the unusual circumstances, there was no way that NBC could NOT do a story like this.

• Over to the luge run, and another uniform note: the U.S. unis feature neither stars nor stripes, but rather flames. No, no,no... you put flames on the vehicle. Stars and stripes go on the person. Haven't Harley Davidson riders taught you anything? Meh.

But at least the American uniforms sort of make sense... flames=speed. The Canadian uniforms make their riders look like Transformers. Perhaps they're hoping for Optimus Speed.

• Back at short track speed skating, we show up for the "B final" race. Why is there a "B" final? Well, says analyst Andy Gabel, the IOC likes to give commendation out to 8 places, and since there are only six racers per race, a B final is necessary to award positions seven and eight. Yet more informative commentary from Gabel!

In the race itself, Canadian skater Charles Hamelin wins! Yay! Canada is number seven! Hmmm... it's kind of like winning the NIT tournament in basketball. We're number 65!

• And now the A final. Three Koreans and two Americans are among the seven racers. Why seven when I just said there were only six per race? Because the judges advance Canadian Oliver Jean for getting knocked down during the semifinal race, that's why.

Anyway, we're off! Unlike the quarter- and semifinals, now the racers are vying for the lead from the very beginning. OH NO! Ohno gets bumped by one Korean, and his loss of speed causes another Korean to pass him. It's going to be Korea 1-2-3!

OH YES! Koreans two and three knock each other out in the FINAL TURN and Americans Ohno and Celski end up taking the silver and bronze! Wow! I love this sport!

• Back to women's moguls. It's foggy! Why is that a problem? Analyst Jonny Moseley explains that the judges have to be able to see the length of the course so they can judge the runs. AGAIN with the good explanations! Did NBC have some sort of revelation about the last Olympics' bad analysts? I like the change.

• Shannon Bahrke is going to be Shannon Happy on 10/10/10. That's right, she's going to marry Mr. Happy. I'm not even going to make a joke about that. But her run is great. First place! At least for now.

• Kristi Richards is back on the slopes and "Beat It" is playing again. I guess the skiers DO get to pick their own music. It doesn't help Kristi, unfortunately. She crashes after the first jump.

• And now Canada's hope, Jenn Heil. Can Canada get it's first home gold medal? The crowd goes nuts! The first jump: good! The second jump? GOOD! Her speed? A little slower than Bahrke. Will it be enough for Canadians to start partying?

YES! Heil's in first with one competitor to go! Now only Hannah Kearney from the U.S. stands in the way of Heil never having to buy a meal in a Canadian restaurant again.

Kearney starts down the hill. She's fast and her jumps are perfect. The results?

Kearney! USA! USA! Canada gets silver, and looks for someone else capable of bringing in the elusive first home-gold medal.

• Back in the studio, Brian Williams references Nodar Kumaritashvili to tells us how dangerous the winter games are. Is this news? Nope. Slow-motion. Music. This was obviously prepared in advance.

Besides it was kind of annoying, with Williams telling us twice that there's something different about these athletes' "DNA chain." Really? When did Brian Williams stop being a news anchor and start being a genetic analyst? I guess "a different personality type" didn't sound cool enough.

• We return to the luge and Simulcam! NBC overlays two different lugers' runs to show where they were in relation to each other. Spiffy!

• Okay, I'm getting a little tired of luge analyst Lewis Johnson's continual use of the term "levers." Lewis, here's what most of us call the things the lugers use to pull themselves down the track: "arms." I know it's a technical term, but it's okay to drop it in there every once in a while.

• Back at the short track arena, Andrea Joyce interviews Apolo Ohno and J.R. Celski. She asks Ohno if he was interfered with during the final? Ohno replies, "Uh... yes," then laughs. That's the laugh of someone who's probably not coming back to the sport after this Olympics, so it's okay to tell the truth about what he thinks. He is, however, gracious, adding that interfering is part of the sport. Again we say it: short track speed skating rules! Oh yeah... so does Ohno.

• Back at the mogul run, reporter Tina Dixon with is with gold-medal-winner Hannah Kearney. She says her goal at the Games was to be part of Olympic montage. Mission accomplished. Also, she wants to spend the rest of the Games being a superfan and, "If anyone's watching, go USA." How cool is that?

Overall, it was a much better second day than first day. Live events kept the fluff down to a minimum, coverage of these live events caused NBC to run overtime for the second consecutive day, and the announcers and analysts were... well, Olympic-class. Good times for all! See you for more tomorrow!