Oh, Canada!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Day three of the Olympics finally gets us into the money maker: figure skating! And yes, I know that there's also going to be speed skating, mogul skiing, and luging, but c'mon... those aren't real sports like figure skating!

Heh. Sounds pretty silly when you argue it like that, doesn't it? On to the show!

•  After Bob's intro, we head straight over to the long track speed skating track, where in the Women's 3000m race Canada will try again to win their first gold medal of any Canadian Olympics. Do you think that NBC's constant emphasis on this drought will have a positive or negative effect on the Canadian team? Is NBC creating an Olympic version of the Chicago Cubs? Discuss among yourselves.

• While we wait through the first commercial, did you see the Men's Nordic Combined this afternoon? In a sport where the United States has never earned ANY medal, three of the top six finishers were Americans, and in a sprint to the finish, Johnny Spillane of Steamboat Springs, Colorado was only four tenths of a second away from winning the gold.

Why do I love the Olympics? When was the last time you were standing in your living room shouting "GOOOO!!" at the top of your lungs to the television? I guess I didn't yell loudly enough. Sorry, Johnny. I'll do better next time.

• Back to speed skating. Canadian Kristina Groves is trying to challenge leader Martina Sablikova of the Czech Republic for the lead in the 3000m, but you know she's not going to make it. How? NBC's virtual "leader line" shows that Sablikova is many meters in front of her. Canada's gold medal hopes are crushed by an imaginary line!

• Now on to Pairs Figure Skating. What?! No Dick Button? Brian is very angry. What could make it worse? Fluff! We get up close and personal with China's Shen Xue and Zhao Hongbo for two-and-a-half minutes. They're husband and wife, they're old, it's both Valentine's Day AND the Chinese New Year today, blah blah blah... what I'm impressed by is that they chose "Who Wants To Live Forever" by Queen as their music. That's a great song. Their skating? Well, it's a kind of magic. The judges love them. First place!

• Off to Whistler and the final of four luge runs. Commentator Bob Papa criticizes Italy's Armin Zoeggeler all the way down the track for being sloppy. Zoeggeler. Zoeggeler. Zoeggeler. What's wrong with you? He finishes...

First. Oh. Well, I guess it's not Zoeggeler that has the problem, is it Bob?

• Now that Germany's Felix Loch won the luge, we go back to the studio for a minute of fluff about Nodar Kumaritashvili. Yes, it's still sad, and I even think it's appropriate to have put this on after the end of the men's luge. That said, I think now is the time for NBC to back off this story otherwise it'll seem like they're just using it to generate ratings.

• Dan Patrick recalls last night's women's freestyle moguls event. Why are we recapping something we watched live last night? One minute of fluff!

• Today, it's the Men's Moguls. I love the dolly camera that runs down the hill parallel to the skiers. On the long shot you really can't tell how fast they're skiing, but that side shot makes it downright scary.

• Bob Costas recalls Hannah Kearney and last night's women's freestyle moguls event. Why are we recapping something we watched last night as well as something we just recapped ten minutes ago? Oh... because Bob's going to interview Hannah in the studio. Well, it's a good interview, but it's still fluff.

• Over to the ice rink where we watch the next generation of Russians skate. Yeah, yeah... balletic perfection. Yawn.

• And now another of these weird "How To Train Your Dragon" promos. This one is the Viking medal ceremony, where we learn that instead of the bronze-silver-gold progression, the ancient Norsemen used horn, granite, and ham. Should I be counting this as ads or fluff? Last night I counted it as fluff, but now I'm thinking it should be ads. Why don't you drop me a line and tell me what you think.

• Dan Patrick introduces us to Dale Begg-Smith who skis for Australia but grew up in Canada. He became a millionaire by starting an internet spam business. That alone is reason enough for me to root against him. That's 150 seconds of fluff that could have been better spent ordering all of those cheap pharmaceuticals I keep getting emails for.

• And now, yet another chance for Canada to win their first home gold. Vincent Marquis racing in the finals of the Men's Moguls. Don't jinx him, NBC!

• Two Americans in a row crash on the mogul run. Right after Patrick Deneen takes out a gate with his face, analyst Jonny Moseley says he hopes Deneen doesn't get disqualified. I'm pretty sure the first thought that Patrick had as he slid across the finish line on his stomach was NOT "I hope I don't get disqualified."

• Canadians are 1-2 in the Men's Moguls right now. NBC keeps pointing that out. Don't jinx them, NBC!

• And now Dale Begg-Smith --internet spam millionaire-- takes the slope. I hope when he crashes he's forced to listen to what a great deal someone can get him on painkillers.

Grrr.... he finishes fast and is currently in first place. That puts him, an ex-Canadian, in first, with current Canadians in second and third.

Bryon Wilson of the United States skis next. Second! With two skiers to go, it's Australia-USA-Canada!

• All of Canada holds their breath for Alexandre Bilodeau, declares Moseley. Don't jinx him NBC!

Wow, is he fast! And goooood. The results...

FIRST PLACE! The Canadian in first place with only Guilbaut Colas from France to knock him out! Don't jinx Canada, NBC!

Guilbaut Colas is lightning fast, getting the fastest time of the night, but will the judges give him a good enough scores on his jumps to win?

Sixth place? Well, I didn't see that coming. But YAY for Canada! Bilodeau is the winner of the "never again has to buy his own meal on Canadian soil" sweepstakes by earning the first ever gold medal for Canada on home soil. The best part of all of this? We won't have to listen to NBC trot out that stupid statistic anymore.

• Bilodeau gives a post-race interview where he says all of the standard things. But as soon as he finishes talking to Tina Dixon, he is immediately leapt upon by a mysterious blonde girl who starts kissing him. His girlfriend, perhaps? We don't learn who it is, but back in the studio, Bob implies that it is about to be the best Valentine's Day ever for Alexandre. Pretty cheeky, Bob.

• Oh no, it's Ohno fluff! It's three-and-a-half minutes of Apolo Ohno facts that you already know. He's won. He's lost. He won a mirror-ball trophy on "Dancing With The Stars" while getting chummy with Julianne Hough. Rough life, eh?

• I haven't been commenting much on the Pair's Figure Skating. Of course, neither have the commentators. Furthermore, when they do comment, they're often wrong. After the Russian couple Mukhortova and Trankov fell down, Scott Hamilton and Sandra Bezic all but declared them out of the competition. Their scores put them in second place (later falling to eighth). Where is Dick Button? If the experts don't know what they're talking about, whey should I pay attention to them? I'll just sit back, watch the ladies in the skimpy outfits, and keep my mouth shut.

• Back in the studio Bob tells us about the Nordic Combined, which I've already told you about. And then... speak of the devil! Dick Button! Do we have time to get him into the arena for the last four skating pairs?

• Yet another skating pair gets an unusally high score. It would be one thing if it was just me saying it. After all, I don't know what I'm talking about, but all of the announcers keep agreeing with me. I guess we're all idiots, because figure skating has never been prone to scoring controversy.

• In the arena after the last pair skates, the loudspeakers are playing Miley Cyrus' "Party In The USA." Aren't there any "Party in Canada" songs they could be playing instead?

• As the figure skating ends, NBC shows the standings after the first round and mistakenly has China's Shen and Zhao listed with a Canadian flag beside their names. Not that two skaters named Shen and Zhao COULDN'T be Canadians, but don't you think that it's a pretty bad to misidentify the country of the couple leading the competition?

• Cris Collinsworth is on the scene for the medal presentation of last night's Women's Moguls event. Will Hannah Kearney sing the national anthem? No... no singing, but she certainly looks choked up. Shannon Bahrke on the other hand, also of the US and finishing with the bronze, starts by crying, switches halfway through to a huge grin, and finishes by singing "home of the brave" at the top of her lungs. Awesome. Shannon Bahrke is now my favorite U.S. Olympian.

How could you not like closing with that? Well, I guess you wouldn't have been so crazy about it if you were Canadian. But now that Canada has the "no golds" monkey off their back, maybe we can just get into great competitions between worthy competitors! Unless one of them has a sad story, and then we'll milk the heck out of it. See you tomorrow!