What Would Brian Boitano Watch?

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Live events keep fluff to a minimum, and the U.S. continues to rack up the medals on Day 7 of the Vancouver Olympics!

• We'll be seeing all the live events later, so let's jump right into the tape-delayed events now. First up, the Women's Super Combined, which is part downhill, part slalom.

First for the U.S. is Julia Mancuso. She's racer number three, but the first competitor that NBC has shown us. Clearly the first two were lesser skiers as she finishes over a second-and-a-half faster.

Apparently skiers number 4 through 17 weren't any good, either. Lindsey Vonn is skier number 18 and Julia is still in the lead. Vonn skis fast and beats Mancuso by eight tenths of a second.

Sideline reporter Christin Cooper shows us a little insight during a replay of Maria Riesch's run. Since this event was early in the day, there wasn't much sun on the slope, so Riesch didn't see a large bump in the snow. Replay shows her almost crashing as she goes over it. Even with that, she still finishes second in the downhill portion.

Anja Parson had a horrible crash yesterday and is in pain, but analyst Todd Brooker says that Lindsey Vonn's brave run yesterday has taught these ladies that they can ski through the pain. I think that might be giving a little too much credit to Vonn. These are world-class downhill skiers. Don't you think they might have experienced pain once or twice?

• By the way, if there's something you'd like to share about the Olympics or the Olympic Watch, I'd love to hear from you. Just head on over to the main site and drop me a line!

• Back to the studio where Bob Costas interviews Shaun White. I've got to admit that White was much more articulate than I thought he was going to be. I guess I was just expecting a lot of "Duuuuuuude!" He actually sounded very analytical about his whole performance yesterday. I guess that's why he's a world-famous, millionaire snowboarder and I'm a poor, snarky cartoonist.

• Thanks to the miracle of tape-delay, we head back to the afternoon and go to the slalom portion of the Women's Super Combined.

Anja Parson has a good slalom run, but she was slower in the downhill, so the next skier we see, Mancuso, finishes in first. Once she crosses the finish line she drops to her back, kicking her feet up in the air. With only two racers left, she knows that she's guaranteed to get on the podium.

Riesch beats Mancuso by eight tenths. She's now in first place. Only Vonn left! Is there another gold in her future?

Nooo! Vonn hooks a ski tip halfway down the slalom course and gets a DNF. Still, another silver for the U.S.!

• Here's something weird. NBC-TV spells the female Swedish alpine skier's name "Anja Paerson." However, NBCOlympics.com spells her name Anja Pärson (note the umlaut). Does a billion-dollar network really not have a character generator that can put an umlaut over someone's name?

• I'll call this "psychic fluff." In a previously recorded fluff interview, Riesch, a good friend of Vonn, claimed that her ideal scenario would include her winning the super combined and Vonn winning the downhill. Spoooooooky!

• Yesterday we heard that snowboarder use the phrase "eye of the tiger." Now Todd Richards says there's a saying in snowboarding called "go big or go home." I thought that was from golf. Does snowboarding just crib sayings from other sports?

• And speaking of snowboarding, we're now at the Women's Halfpipe which, sad to say, is kind of uninspiring after yesterday's performance by Shaun White. There are only 11 boarders in the finals. Seven of them crash in the first round. Of the Americans, only Hannah Teter makes it down successfully. Surprise! She's in first place! I'd say, "by default."

• Even Torah Bright, Australia's superstar can't successfully make it to the bottom of the run. In fact, she crashes twice, meaning her score is so low that she'll start off the second round.

But oh, that second round! Torah's score immediately becomes the one to beat. All that means is we'll probably see even more crashing in round two as people try to catch up to her.

• Just before her second run, Todd Richards quotes Bright's coach as saying, "Torah has all the abilities to break through all of the barriers women have faced in sports. I'm not trying to overstate things, but she has all the ability, determination, intelligence, and perserverence to take women's snowboarding to the next level." Todd then agrees with everything the coach said.

Whew! Good thing they're not trying to overstate anything.

• Kelly Clark of the United States is singing at the top of the halfpipe run. She actually takes the time to get her iPod out and adjust the song before she starts down the slope. It works! She grabs onto third place! Good! After hearing her sing, I'm glad she has a day job. Yes, I know. I'm a hater.

• Oh, I forgot to mention the fluff! American snowboarders Gretchen Bleiler, Hannah Teter, and Kelly Clark are all BFFs! Yes they're rivals but they love each other and are world travelers and so supportive and everything! For sure!

•Ultimately, no one can catch Torah Bright. She wins gold, and Americans Teter and Clark finish 2-3.

• Back in the studio, Costas and Button talk about the upcoming figure skating. Button says it's the quality of skating that counts. Profound. To the ice we go for the Men's Figure Skating long program.

• Up first is Jeremy Abbott, whose falls on Tuesday night doomed his overall chances. He starts his program tonight by falling once and cutting another jump short. Scott Hamilton spends the rest of his routine telling us how much he's "fighting." Please, Scott. I don't need encouragement in feeling sorry for Abbott. It is possible for me to sympathize without specific guidance.

•  Back in the studio, Bob gets caught off guard twice. Canada and Switzerland went to a shootout in hockey. Apparently, Sidney Crosby scored the winning goal, but Bob says the clip we are shown was somebody else. Then, as he apologizes and says that HERE is the winning goal, what we're actually shown is Canadian goalie Martin Brodeur making the winning save. Whoops!

• In the crowd tonight, Dallas Cowboys' owner Jerry Jones and former Indianapolis Colts coach Tony Dungy. Tom Hammond calls Jones "American sporting royalty." I've heard Jones called a lot of things, but "royalty" was never one of them.

• We take a break from figure skating to watch Shaun White get his gold medal. The silver is going to Scott Lago. Will either of them sing? Will both? Nooo... but they'll both take time during the national anthem to point to people they know in the crowd, and Shaun will play air guitar. Oh, Shaun. Couldn't you have waited 60 seconds to do your shout-out? At least there wasn't any swearing tonight.

• A big cheer for Patrick Chan of Canada at the figure skating rink. Can he move up from seventh place to a medal? He's skating to a Phantom of the Opera medley. He falls. I guess the music of the night couldn't save him. There are still a lot of skaters to go, but he's in first place for now. If everyone else falls flat on their face, he could still win! Doubtful.

•  Belgian Kevin van der Perren is skating to "American In Paris." He is neither. He was okay, but then he ran out of gas at the end of his routine.

• We're back to drive around with Plushenko and hang out with Lysacek's Ridley Scott piece. Holy Brian Boitano, it's a fluff montage! Note to NBC: Fluff should NEVER be recycled!

•  Evan Lysacek almost runs into Johnny Weir in practice because, says Scott, "Johnny jumps the other direction." Okaaaaay, Scott, if that's how you want to put it. Not that there's anything wrong with that!

• Lysacek goes first in the last group. Evan seems to favor uniforms with big shoulder pads. He's making all of his jumps and doing very well, but I'm worried about Scott Hamilton. From the noises he's making from the broadcast booth, I'm pretty sure he's got some kind of hernia. You should really get that looked into, Scott.

Lysacek skates a clean program. Now all of the pressure is on his enemy, Plushenko.

• Japanese skater Nobunari Oda looks like he's just struggling, but it turns out he broke a shoelace while performing. He stops in the middle of his routine to petition the judge for time to fix his wardrobe malfunction. Scott and Sandra correctly state that he only has three minutes to make the repair. That was the most informative commentary they've had all night.

• Sandra Bezic wishes that Stephane Lambiel of Switzerland would skate the way he usually does "so that everyone could enjoy it." Isn't that a backhanded way of saying she's not enjoying it right now?

• Coming up, Johnny Weir. Admit it, you've been waiting to see him skate. There's no telling what he'll end up wearing. Actually, it's not that wild, although it does have feathers hanging off of it. But for figure skaters that's normal, right?

Tom says, "He skated his life out there and did it on his own terms!" What does that mean? Whatever. It was good, but he started off in sixth and probably won't move up to a medal, but you never know. Maybe Plushenko will do a faceplant.

Nope. Fifth place which, once Plushenko skates, will probably put Weir in sixth. Too bad, Johnny.

• And now the enemy! Plushenko attempts to become the first back-to-back gold medalist since Dick Button. We can only assume Button is on the edge of his studio seat right now.
Yevgeny's doing well, but Sandra thinks that Lysacek's program is harder. Will this all come down to degree of difficulty?

Plushenko finishes and Scott declares that both Yevgeny and Lysacek deserve what they get. Again, profound.

While watching Plushenko replays, Scott makes both Three Stooges and cat noises. I don't know what's worse, the commentary or the sound effects.

And here come Plushenko's scores...

NO! It's Lysacek by a nose! Heh. You see, because Plushenko has a big nose and... oh, never mind. Anyway, Evan is the first American since Brian Boitano to win gold in the Men's Figure Skating.

•  We're running long now, but NBC wants to stay for Lysacek's medal ceremony, so we're back in the studio with Bob, who wants to make a correction on the hockey game from earlier. Beat you to it, Bob!

• Medal cermony time! First we watch Shani Davis get the gold medal for last night's 1000m speed skating. Is there singing? No. Davis and bronze medal winner Chad Hendrick both just stand there. It's not like he's never done this before. He should know the words by now.

Back to figure skating for THEIR medal ceremony. Will Lysacek sing? What would Brian Boitano do, Evan? No singing, but at least he's smiling and has his hand over his heart. Even better is that look on Plushenko's face. My interpretation: "Silver? Whatever. Just give me my medal so I can go drive my Mercedes around town and talk about my enemies."

So, the first full week of the Olympics comes to an end. Is it just me or does it seem like there have been a higher than usual number of technical difficulties, both with the Olympics themselves and with NBC's broadcast? Drop me a line and let me know. See you tomorrow!