A Chance For Redemption

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Skaters searching for former glory, boarders searching for redemption, and us searching for less fluff. HA! Like that's going to happen! It's Day 5 of the Vancouver Olympics!

• Again we start not by showing NBC's beautiful montage of the Vancouver area, but instead by going directly to an event, in this case the Men's Figure Skating short program. Notice I didn't say we went directly into a "sport." Yeah, I know. I'm a hater.

•  As the ominous music plays, we ride shotgun with Yevgeny Plushenko as he drives his Mercedes through the streets of Moscow. He's competing for Russia, but he must think he's actually competing for the Soviet Union. He keeps talking about how his "enemies" in figure skating are afraid of him and about how he's "fighting with (his) enemy, with (his) rivals." Watch the men tonight at the figure skating competition. Do any of them look like fighters?

Is it just me, or does Yevgeny kind of look like a younger, blonder Steve Perry of Journey? Anyway, although he had previously gone his separate ways with figure skating, he decided to come back so he can be a two-time Olympic champion like Dick Button. Don't stop believin', Yevengy! I'm sure the judges will welcome you back with open arms.

•  Canada's Vaughn Chipeur is not only a skater but also a drag racer. There's an unusual combination. Can you imagine Don Garlits as an ice skater?

• How does Scott Hamilton feel about Plushenko? Well, after the Russian's first jump (a quad-triple something), Hamilton screams like a kid who's just found the complete collection of Transformer toys under the Christmas tree. At the end of Plushenko's routine, which admittedly was very good, Scott said, and I quote, "Ahhhh.... ahhhh.... ahhhh." That's some brilliant commentary, right there.

• Back in the studio, Dick Button talks about Plushenko and his "evil skater" persona. He's also delighted that Yevgeny wants to tie or beat his record. He commands your attention, Dick says of the Russian. Of course he commands our attention. NBC won't stop showing him!

• Over to Whistler for the Women's Luge. After three runs, there are no Americans in the top ten. I'm predicting that NBC isn't going to stay on this pre-recorded event very long.

Megan Sweeney of the United States gives us a turn-by-turn description of the track while a split-screen shows us the part of the track she's describing. Actually, that was pretty cool. Why did we wait until the last run of single's luge to do this?

Sweeney makes her run and is in first place! Of course, she's the first to run, so that doesn't really count. The same goes for American Erin Hamlin, who finishes just behind Sweeney.

And much as I thought, when we come back from the break, we jump straight to the top three leaders. Germans and Austrians win medals. I could tell you their names if I felt like looking them up. You could do that yourself if you'd like. Yeah, I didn't think so.

• And now it's off to the Lindsey Jacobellis Redemption Tour in women's Snowboard Cross on Cypress Mountain. Did you know that Jacobellis blew her shot to win this event in 2006? You'd only know this if you'd watched ANY of this Olympics, because that's the only thing they ever talk about in Women's Snowboard Cross.

• Tina Dixon does a short segment on what ski goggles the boarders will be wearing to see the track more clearly. I can't say the it was the most informative piece ever, but I do appreciate NBC taking the time to show us some of the strategic decisions that the snowboarders have to make. Good job, Tina!

• And now, the race that NBC has been waiting for for four long years. Jacobellis gets a good pull out of the starting gate and quickly takes the lead. She runs a nice smooth race all of the way down and wins her quarterfinal. Good for her! We'll catch up to her later in the semifinal.

• We come back from the break with... sigh... Jacobellis fluff. Hey, guess what? She fell down four years ago. Perhaps you've heard?

• Whoa! That was fast! The beauty of tape-delay is that we can go to the semifinal right away. Jacobellis gets a good pull off the start and... OH NO! A bad landing on the first jump sends her through a gate instead of around it. And just like that, all of that time NBC has spent hyping this story is wasted. The Women's Snowboard Cross final will be Jacobellis-less.

• And now for Jim Cantore with the weather! Has there ever been an Olympic Games that needed to have a special segment on the weather? My guess is no. And since weather is a part of news, this isn't fluff.

Team Rockwood member Sandy thinks that Japanese skater Daisuke Takahashi has the face, hair, and jacket to be a Michael Jackson look-a-like. I'm sure he's wants to be startin' something, but if he wants to top Plushenko's score he's going to have to beat it.

Is he bad? No, in fact he skates a thriller of a program and the judges say, say, say that he shouldn't stop until they get enough. Okay, maybe that last one was too much.

• Cris Collinsworth has dropped by the studio wearing his boring dad sweater to tell us all about The Flying Tomato, Shaun White. Oh this is hilarious... standing around at the bottom of a skateboarding halfpipe shooting the breeze are Cris, Shaun, and Tony Hawk. One of these things is not like the other! Hawk tells how he first noticed Shaun when they were both on the same mountain snowboarding and Tony saw the then Little Tomato "shredding." Collinsworth laughs like the kid who wants to be friends with the popular group. Seriously, could Cris look any MORE square here?

We find out that White has his own private snow-covered halfpipe. HIS OWN HALFPIPE! How do you even price one of those? I guess snowboarding pays pretty well.

• Back at the Women's Snowboard Cross, it turns out they can actually have a final race withOUT Lindsey Jacobellis. Maelle Ricker from Canada is the crowd favorite, so we'll root for her.

Wow! She gets a great pull and is waaaay out in front early. Boarder number four crashes, boarder number three crashes... now she's got such a big lead that the only way she could blow it is to... you knew this was coming... pull a Jacobellis.

OH! Whew... just before the last jump she almost fell, but she was able to put her hand down just in time, keep it together and win what is now Canada's second gold medal on home soil. Can you imagine if the second Women's Snowboard Cross in a row had ended with the boarder in first place crashing just before finish? They'd call this sport jinxed!

• Mary Carillo is here to tell us about Patrick Chan, a 19-year-old from Canada competing in figure skating. His first coach was Osborne Colson, who didn't just teach him about skating, he taught him about life. Sounds like Mr. Miagi. Anyway, Chan's training keeps things fun. He plays hockey and even beats Mary at tennis. Mary reminds him that no Canadian figure skater has ever won a gold medal. No pressure, Patrick!

• Patrick Chan takes the ice and obviously has the crowd support, will the judges be as kind?

Sort of. He finishes seventh. That's not too shabby for a 19-year-old, since Sandra Bezic has pointed out that most men don't win until they're in their 20s, but you have to think he would have liked to have a good chance at a medal instead of just an outside chance.

• Johnny Weir is wearing... well. Imagine Pee Wee Herman as a dominatrix. That's the best description I can give. Maybe throw a little Marilyn Manson in there, too. Sandra Bezic tells us he's named part of his routine the "I love you/I hate you" segment to represent the two sides of his personality. I would have bet there were a lot more than just two in there. But he was good. Let's see what the judges think.

Fifth place. I would have bet higher than that, but what do I know?

• It's time for some figure skating fluff! We start with Evan Lysacek who's sitting in a room lit only by one shaft of light interrupted by a ceiling fan. Did Ridley Scott direct this? Then there's Jeremy Abbott, who... I don't even know. This piece was so boring I couldn't even concentrate on it. Evans is an extrovert, Abbott is an introvert. Compare and contrast!

• Kevin Van Der Perren from Belgium is wearing a skeleton costume. With sequins. There are only so many songs you can skate to while dressed like a skeleton. And "Night On Bald Mountain" it is! I would have put my money on "Thriller."

• Up next from the United States, Evan Lysacek. He's dressed like a sparkly pipe-cleaner, and his score almost ties Plushenko. That's right, Yuvgeny. He's one of your enemies!

• Two Americans in a row! Jeremy Abbott, the man who beat Lysacek in the U.S. Nationals, simplifies some jumps and generally underperforms. How do I know this? Because Scott Hamilton groans in disappointment all throughout Abbott's his routine.

• The last skater of the night is Michal Brezina of the Czech Republic, who's performing to "Puttin' On The Ritz." Wouldn't it be awesome if it was the version from "Young Frankenstein"?

•  Back in the studio with Costas and Button. I'm getting less and less impressed with Dick Button as a post-game analyst. He's talking completely in cliches. It's almost like he gets more flustered the more time he has to think about what he wants to say.

Scott Hamilton, by comparison, doesn't seem to get flustered about saying anything. He also doesn't seem to be worried that his sentences have no point. He says things like "This is the Olympics!" or "He's doing what he does!" What does any of that mean?

• Again with Lindsey Jacobellis? She "came here to have an experience"? Who is she, 2006's Bode Miller? Well, no, because she did win the consolation race to get fifth place, so she was at least trying. And we can't blame her for falling down. In snowboard cross, as Scott Hamilton would say, falling is what it is.

• And now Seth Wescott's medal ceremony for his win in yesterday's Men's Snowboard Cross. SINGING! YES! Plus, Scott seems to know all of the words. Awesome! Add Seth Wescott to my list of favorite Olympians.

I was worried when yesterday's fluff count went up, but it settled back down tonight. I have the feeling that live events help keep down the meaningless fluff. We'll see if that holds true through the rest of the Games. See you tomorrow!