Will Men Watch Ice Dancing Just To See Tanith?

Friday, February 19, 2010

America continues to do well at the slopes, but NBC's main draw tonight is one couple. Will they alone pull in the ratings? It's Day 8 of the Vancouver Olympics!

• Today in the intro, extreme snowmobiling! EXTREEEEEME!!

• We start with Bob standing under the Olympic cauldron. He says there are always crowds around it, but right now there's no one there except him. No one goes there anymore, it's too crowded! I'm sure NBC cleared out the area beforehand, but it's still sort of funny.

• First up today is ski jumping. The first three jumpers we see are all Americans, and each one takes the lead from the next. Japanese Noriaki Kasai is the first non-American we see, and he too takes the lead.

The coolest thing about Kasai's jump is when NBC shows us his take-off in super-slow-motion. You can see that he just misses an optimum launching spot, and you can also see his skis flexing as he takes to the air. They then use it for several other skiers. That's a great shot, NBC!

• Controversy! Evan Lysacek won the gold last night in Men's Figure Skating, and now he's in the studio with Bob. Lysacek, obviously, was satisfied with the outcome last night. But Yevgeny Plushenko thinks differently, even saying that a skater who doesn't do a quad jump --like he did-- isn't a skater, but rather a dancer. Oh no! Yevgeny's feelings are hurt! Let me call the wahhhhmbulance!

Bob tries to get a reaction from Evan by throwing out some other Yevgeny quotes, but Lysacek doesn't take the bait. He even gets off a little joke. When Bob asks him if he'll be defending his gold in Sochi, Russia in 2014, Evan says he will if Vladimir Putin lets him into the country. Cool under fire! That's how you win the gold, kids.

• Ice dancing compulsory dances. Allisson Reed and Otar Japaridze are the first athletes from Georgia to compete in the Games since the death of Nodar Kumaritashvili. Remember him? Seems a lot longer than a week ago, doesn't it?

• Is it just me, or is anyone else getting the feeling that there's no way that the "How To Train Your Dragon" movie could live up to the "How To Train Your Dragon" ads?

• Off to Whistler for the Men's Super-G. American Andrew Weibrecht is the first racer we see in this tape-delayed event. naturally he finishes first. Of course, he's only the third racer to go. He's followed by Italian Peter Fill. Analyst Todd Brooker says that the course might rattle Fill's groin injury. You know, Todd, I really don't watch the Olympics to hear about rattling groins.

Anyway, Fill catches a ski edge two gates from the end, plows through the last gate, and his skis explode off his feet as he slides face first over the finish line, barely even slowing down. Even though we now know from the Women's Downhill that you need to finish on your skis for your time to count, I personally think that if you cross the finish line, your time should be registered. Of course, in this case, he missed a gate, so that would disqualify him, regardless.

• Ted Ligety. Ligety, Ligety, Ligety! Oh yeah! Actually, oh no. He finishes 19th.

• Morgan Freeman's Visa ad congratulates Julia Mancuso on her "medals." If you listen really carefully, you can hear how the word "medals" sounds different. My guess is that when they recorded that spot, they left a blank space there so they could finish it with "medals" or "gold" or even "gold medals." But that's okay. It pays to be flexible.

• And now Bode Miller and his new attitude take the course. Bode skis great and moves into first place by three hundredths of a second. Americans are currently one-two. Awesome! I like 2010 Bode Miller a lot better than 2006 Bode Miller.

Another bonus: The super-slow-mo shot of Bode clipping a gate is spectacular.

• Question: Is GE's commercial where people using tongue depressors sing Beethoven's 9th a bad version of that song? Answer: There ARE no bad versions of that song.

• Norwegian fluff! Skier Aksel Svindal had a big crash three years ago in Beaver Creek where he broke his face in four places. Now he's back and a favorite. And his dad's here! Yay, Bjorn! So let's see how he skis...

• Svindal gets first place. The fluff worked, I guess.

• The last skier shown is Sweden's Patrick Jarbyn. He has a massive wipeout and gets knocked unconscious. He was a second-and-a-half off the leader's pace when he crashed, so the only reason to show this tape-delayed competitor was to show his horrific crash. NBC showing a crash merely for ratings purposes make me a little uncomfortable. What do you think?

• I have to say that after making fun of Bode Miller for the entirety of the 2006 Olympics, I'm really liking the new Bode attitude. He's a positive competitor, he jokes with the other racers at the bottom of the hill, and even congratulates them when they beat him. Where did all of this come from?

• Cris Collinsworth is on the set. I'll start the fluff clock, now.

Today we're talking about Apolo Ohno and his dad, Yuki. Dad was disappointed in Apolo's performance in Nagano, not because he didn't win, but more because he didn't try. So Yuki drove Apolo up to cabin and left him there until he could make a decision on what he wanted to do. On eighth day he made decision he wanted to skate.

Doesn't this sound like some kind of biblical story? "And so Apolo retreated to the mountain to find his muse, and on the eighth day..."

Anyway, Cris is a big fan of Apolo, he's even a bigger fan of Yuki. I'm a big fan of this segment being over.

• Back to ice dancing where Isabelle Delobel and Oliver Schoenfelder from France take the ice. I ask "why are they preening?" Team Rockwood member Sandy replies, "Because they're French." That would explain it, I guess.

• In the ice dancing compulsory round, all of the dancers do exactly the same moves. Analyst Tracy Wilson shows us a graphic of the pattern each pair must skate. If you look carefully at the ice, you can see the groove where all of the previous dancers have skated.

Incidentally, do you know where the "figure" in figure skating comes from? Up until 1990, figure skaters not only had a short and a long program, but they also had a compulsory figure portion of their scores determined by how well they could skate certain "figures" (like a perfect circle or a figure 8) on the ice. They got rid of that segment because no one wanted to watch it, but that's where the name comes from. Now you know!

• Ice Dancing rivalry fluff! The competing U.S. teams of Belbin/Agosto and Davis/White are competing against each other! Competing! Against! Each! Other! Uh-huh. Isn't this what competitors do? This really just feels like NBC hyping something just to hype it.

• The first of the two U.S. pairs are the current champs Meryl Davis and Charlie White . They first skated together as eight- and nine-year-olds. NBC has footage of the two of them as kids. Cute. Charlie White has Greatest American Hero hair. Don't believe me? Click on the links and compare.

And how do they do? Why do you ask me questions like that? I think they're good, but I have no idea how this is judged. They end up in first for now. Good for them!

• Next up, Russian couple Jana Khokhlova and Sergei Novitski. He has Chevy Chase's haircut from "Fletch." Not a good look.

• Now the gold medal for the women's half pipe. It's Torah Bright from Australia. Will she sing the national anthem? "We come from the land down under..." No, not really. But she is singing. Good for her!

• And now Tanith Belbin and that guy she dances with. Somehow she manages not to melt the ice with her hotness. So how did they do? What makes you think I know any more about how ice dancing is scored than I did ten minutes ago? They end up in third, just behind White and Davis.

• I like that Tracy points out the techniques that the judges are looking for with each skater. I don't know that it's making it any clearer for me, but I appreciate the effort.

• The last pair is Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir from Canada. They're a crowd favorite (duh) and the judge's second favorite. Expect a lot of home support for them during the finals.

• Now it's the medal ceremony for the Men's Super-G and Norway's Svindal. Bode Miller and Andrew Weibrecht are the Americans in silver and bronze. Svindal knows all the words and sings! Yay for singing gold medalists!

• Back in the studio Scott Hamilton, Dick Button, and Bob Costas spend some more time defending Evan Lysacek. Did Scott know he was coming into the studio today? Even Evan is better dressed, and he's just wearing a warm-up suit.

Scott thinks Evan should have won, Dick thinks Evan should have won... do we really need to cover all of this material again? Isn't there something more interesting on, like curling? I think the only two people really disputing Lysacek's win are Plushenko and Vladmir Putin. Those aren't really neutral parties. Let it rest, NBC. You're looking defensive for no reason.

•  Skeleton fluff! American Noelle Pikus-Pace got hit by a bobsled. How does that happen? I've been to a bobsleigh competition before, and you can hear them a long ways off. Anyway, she gets hurt but makes it back in time for the Olympics. But even if she didn't, her biggest joy is being a mom. Awwwww.

Off to her skeleton run. She barely loses but has a great attitude about it. When asked what it was like finishing fourth by a tenth of a second. Her response: "Oh, mannnn!" We wish you the best, Noelle!

I could have done with less Lysacek tonight, but I suppose that was inevitable. It was kind of a slow night, tonight. But Saturday night will have three U.S. gold medal winners trying to win even more. Tune in tomorrow!