Skaters, and Bears. Oh my!
Monday, February 15, 2010
Day four of the Olympics and the fluff is starting
to creep up. Will NBC stick with live events or will they start
to sneak in stories about fuzzy, wuzzy, wuvable polar bears? The
results aren't encouraging.
• Coming up tonight: figure skating, speed skating, snowboarding,
alpine skiing, and... polar bears? It's not enough that the fluff
exists in the first place, but now Bob is teasing it at the top
of the show? Well, I guess we'll see what Mary Carillo's can do
with it later.
But first we're off to Whistler for the craziest sport in the Winter
Olympics, the Downhill. The Vancouver Olympic Committee has outlined
the entire course in blue paint. I'm sure this helps the skiers,
but I don't recall ever seeing such a clearly defined course at
an Olympics. Is this just for TV, or does it have something to
do with the low snowfall that Vancouver's has been experiencing?
Maybe I can find something on Google.
But why is downhill the craziest
sport, you ask? Yes, the luge is faster but good lugers are known
for being control freaks. By comparison,
good downhill skiers are known for being crazy. Anytime you hear
a downhill skier say something like, "I'm going to race a
nice safe run," you know you're looking at a loser. When you
watch a good downhill run, it looks like the skier has lost his
mind and all sense of self-preservation. Speaking of Bode Miller...
Bode fluff! He's looking forward to the downhill! Well, I guess
that's better than the Turin Olympics, when he seemed more concerned
Tom Brokaw into his trailer.
Steve Porino tells us that Bode's going to be using his "tried-and-true" skis
instead of some experimental skis. That's already different from
2006, when he and another US skier both used
experimental skis in their losses. Hopefully,
that lesson was learned.
So he skis, and he ends the race in first place!
Yes, it's early, but he was almost four-tenths of a second ahead
next competitor, so
maybe that will hold up.
Swiss skier Didier Cuche has to wear a special glove because he
broke his thumb. Is this really fluff? We are, after all, talking
a condition that will affect his racing ability. I think I'm going
to count it as news just because it's short and informative.
If it was really fluff, we'd get some slow-motion shots of the
thumb along with a voice-over telling us about what a tragic
life the thumb had led before it made it to Vancouver.
After all of the other racers that NBC is going to show us (this
event is tape-delayed), Bode Miller is still in third place,
and the last true contender for a medal in the Downhill is Robbie
Okay, maybe he's a little TOO wild. Robbie flies off the hill and
can't control his landing. That's going to guarantee a bronze for
Bode! And he seems happy about it! Wow! He really has changed since
• We received several emails about
for a ruling on whether or not the "How To Train Your Dragon" spots
were fluff or ads. The consensus is ads, so
we'll go with popular opinion. "Ads" it is!
It's time for the Viking sports update. And that's old-school Vikings,
Bob tells us. Older than even Brett Favre or Fran Tarkenton. As
a Minnesota Viking fan, I do appreciate the reference.
Finally, says Bob, a visit from Mary Carillo! Ahhhh yes. The much-anticipated
polar bear segment.
Mary journeys to the frozen tundra of Churchill,
Manitoba, 1,331 miles from NBC's Vancouver home base, just so
she can go see some polar bears. (Incidentally,
I had to use Google Earth to
calculate this distance instead of Google
Maps. Google Maps can't calculate road distance because
no roads going to Churchill). I get how polar
bears are relevant to Canada, but Churchill isreally not relevant
to Vancouver. Don't believe me?
Sticking with our Google Earth measuring tool, it's only 1,183
miles from Vancouver to the polar bear exhibit
at the San
Diego Zoo. San Diego is more relevant to Vancouver than Churchill
is! Isn't there one interesting thing that Mary could do or see
in the Vancouver
Anyway, bears. Mary hops onto the Tundra Buggy
of Great White Bear
Tours and awwww... they're so cute! Yes, so cute that Churchill
has a bear phone hotline (657-BEAR) that will activate a siren
if the polar bears wander into town. Perhaps they're not quite
as cute when they're bearing down on you on Main Street.
But it's not just ecotourists that love the
bears, says Mary, but also the scientists. When you're studying
bears, says one scientist,
they're studying you. Great. Now NBC has found scientists
like Jimmy Roberts. Is there no end to your oppression
of me, Jimmy?
Needless to say, this is all fluff.
we're off to Cypress Mountain for the Men's Snowboard Cross quarterfinals.
The top two of four racers advance, and two of the four are from
the United States. Halfway down the hill, their competition falls
down, leaving the Americans all alone. Don't pull
a Jacobellis! They don't. Both qualify.
During the next heat...leader cam! At least
one of the four snowboarders has a camera mounted somewhere on
their body. Awesome! Do they all have cameras on them? Nope. Only
one had it. I think NBC is missing a golden opportunity there.
Cris Collinsworth is misidentified by Bob Costas as "Cris
Collins." Why? Because Collinsworth is so bland that Costas
can't even remember his name. Cris tells us how much a hundreth
of a second is. You know, stuff like one hundreth of a second is
10 feet for a skier on the 1.3 mile downhill run, or three tenths
is two blinks of an eye.
I have my own measurements. One tenth of a second
is the amount of time it takes me to realize this is fluff. Two
tenths is the amount of time it takes me to groan aloud.
Off we go to Pairs Figure Skating. Here's something fun to try
if you have a TV with a good sound system: if the skater's music
is quiet and the skaters are performing a jump, you can hear
chatter of dozens of camera shutters going off while they're in
the air. Try it!
Back to Cypress Mountain. I loooooove the on-board cam for the
snowboard cross, but why does only one racer have it? Like NASCAR,
all of the boarders need to wear cameras. In the semifinal race,
Austrian Mario Fuchs was the one with the camera and he wiped out.
Why did we not get to see a replay from THAT camera? Has NBC learned
NOTHING from NASCAR?
Over at the speed skating track, the 500m race has been delayed
due to Zamboni failure! The arena has three different Zambonis
and none of them could perform the job. What are the odds of three
simultaneous Zamboni failures? They finally got them working, but
now all of the skater's routines are thrown off, says Dan Jansen.
If they're all thrown off the same, what's the problem?
They're Olympic athletes. Shouldn't they be able to deal with it?
Look at me, questioning three-time Olympian Dan Jansen. Shut
up, internet boy!
I was told by reader Jessica that I should be commenting on the
skaters outfits. Amanda Evora and Mark Ladwig are wearing powder
blue things with sequins. Oh, and previous skaters? Gold with sequins,
red with sequins, white with sequins... I'm pretty sure there was
a black with sequins somewhere in there. There's a reason I don't
do fashion commentary.
Bilodeau fluff! Yesterday's Men's Moguls winner Alexandre Bilodeau
has an older brother with cerebral palsy who is his inspiration.
Same old-same old, right? Not exactly. What's different about
this fluff? It was produced in Canada for the CBC. That's right!
It's imported fluff! My goodness, can America not even produce
it's own fluff anymore?
And now, Bilodeau's medal ceremony. He gets the gold. Begg Smith,
the internet spam millionaire, gets silver, and the bronze goes
to American Bryon Wilson. So will Bilodeau sing "Oh,
Canada"? He'd better, or his brother won't be proud of him,
and that would ruin that fluff story we just spent so much time
He doesn't know the words! He tries to sing
a couple of times, but it's clear he doesn't know what lyric is
crowd, however, fills in all the gaps for him. Well, I guess he
didn't expect to win a medal, but still, even I know most of the
words to "Oh, Canada" and I'm not even from there!
Team Rockwood member Sandy provides some uniform
commentary. Russia's Yuri Lariyonov and Vera Bazarova have a problem.
Her uniform, red with yellow accents,
is okay, but his is mostly grey and ugly like the sky in Siberia.
I think that their skating is kind of ugly. The judges agree with
Zhao Hongbo is caught on camera throwing a football back and forth
to his trainer while waiting underneath the arena. He's not too
bad of a thrower, and he's definitely better than I would have
pictured for a figure skater.
Shen and Zhao's trainer Yao Bin gets his own fluff complete with
a Chinese proverb! "The one who removes a mountain
begins by moving small stones." Fantastic. Mountains, stones,
i'll get right on that.
Anyway, trainer Yao Bin has been away from his
family for two decades, and was
his son was
born. He's devoted to his coaching career and to his skaters.
And the first time he zzzzzzzzzzzz.... Oh! Sorry. I kinda got bored
out of my mind, there. Fluff!
More uniform commentary from Sandy: Annabelle Langlois from Canada
is wearing an outfit that has a strange gradient color at the
to the camera, makes it look like they're trying to blur out some
kind of wardrobe malfunction. Sandy says they should have put that
color down near her feet so it would have blurred out her falls.
Sandy also wants to know how the Americans can skate a clean program
and finish behind other skaters who fall. I'm sure it has something
to do with degree of difficulty, but unlike when Dick Button was
doing commentary in Turin, Scott Hamilton and Sandra Bezic
don't do a lot of talking during the performance. That's good and
bad. The good is that they don't get in the way of the performance.
The bad is not only do I not know anything about fashion, I also
don't know anything about figure skating. If Scott Hamilton doesn't
tell me how the scoring works, it's unlikely I'll figure it out
on my own.
Maria Mukhortova from Russia is wearing a cute red dress. Her partner
Maksim Trankov looks like he just came from the IT department
dark grey slacks and white button-up shirt. All he needs is the
Dilbert tie. Although, I suppose if I HAD to wear a skaters outfit,
I'd much rather wear this than something sequin-y.
Back to Cypress Mountain and the snowboard cross finals.
Four racers, three medals, two Americans. That means at least one
American will get some kind of medal.
Cris Collinsworth has pity for Lindsey Jacobellis for screwing
up. Both he and Bob excuse her snowboard trick (a "method
air") as an innocent mistake. I think the word you're looking
for is "hubris," Cris. Anyway, her fluff piece says that
she's going to try to make up for it in this Olympics. Except for
NBC, it takes four minutes to say that one sentence.
This is the second commercial tonight I've seen for Windows 7.
The first was all in French, and this second one is British. Can
Americans not even produce their own commercials anymore?
Now it's Dick Button in the studio with Bob. Again, why is he here
in the studio and not there in the arena? This really does confuse
me. Button is obviously on the NBC payroll and watching all of
the skaters. Why keep him sequestered in the studio with Costas?
I wonder if the NBC brass is worried that he would chew up Hamilton
and Bezic, and that only Bob can hold his own against him.
We're back on the ice with Germany's Aliona Savchenko. Last night
she looked like a clown. Tonight she looks like a wedding cake.
Robin Szolkowy falls.
falling tonight. I think the first skating pair that can make it
through their routine without falling is going to win by default.
Pang Qing and Tong Jian of China skate to "The Impossible
nail all of their jumps. After they hit their last jump, Bezic
says that they're savoring the rest of their routine. Of course
they are. They've dreamt the impossible dream.
So now my theory
is going to be put to the test. I'm assuming they'll take the
lead from Savchenko and Szolkowy, which would leave them in first
one pair to go. If Shen and Zhao skate clean, they win. If Shen
and Zhao fall, Pang and Tong win. Of course, what do I know?
So far I'm right! Pang and Tong take first. I may not know skating,
but I do know numbers.
Zhao bobbles on one of the jumps,
and Sandra Bezic gasps on one of their lifts, but I didn't notice
anything bad there. Overall, I'd say
it was clean enough to win.
Turns out Sandra saw that dropped lift that
I didn't, but it didn't matter. Shen and Zhao still won. Expect
more fluff on Shen and Zhao in the future.
Back in the studio with Costas and Button. Hmmm... maybe THIS is
why Dick is in the studio. When he first starts his analysis, he
stumbles through the first
minute until he gets in the groove. Still, even then he says more
in a minute than Scott Hamilton has said all night.
The last segment of the show is Bob interviewing Men's Snowboard
Cross winner Seth Wescott of the United States. Wescott talks
about his win, says he plans to come back for the Sochi games,
and then Costas gives
inside. A hat?! C'mon, Bob! We're in Canada! That's a toque!
don't consider it a good sign that as the figure skating increases,
so does the fluff. Remember, we haven't even gotten to the really
popular skating yet. But for now, live events seem to have kept
NBC's desire for fluff down to a minimum. Let's hope it stays that
way. See you tomorrow!