I Am Serious, And Don't Call Me Shirley

Monday, February 22, 2010

An odd movie reference, tons of fluff, and features on athletes who aren't even here make for the weirdest day yet. It's Day 11 of the Vancouver Olympics!

• Oh no. And I don't mean Apolo. Al Michaels has to do the show introduction tonight because Bob Costas himself is fluff. Yes, I know we all knew that, but this is different. Bob is literally flying around Coal Harbor in a floatplane so he can land on the water and make a dramatic entrance for the beginning of the show. This is more like the opening shot of "Survivor." Maybe later we'll get to vote Cris Collinsworth off the island.

Bob's plane pulls up to the pier and the bad jokes begin. Al says that Kareem Abdul-Jabaar was at the controls ala "Airplane!", then calls Bob "Amelia Earhart" as Costas gets off the plane. Not to be outdone, Bob adds, "Or Wiley Post." Does that mean Bob is a one-eyed pilot known for dying in a plane crash? Doubtful, but I do appreciate the Oklahoma-based shout-out.

• Austria's Gregor Schlierenzauer is a rock star of ski jumping, but most people call him by his nickname, Schlieri, for obvious reasons. I'll bet you didn't think you were get any Austrian ski jumper fluff, did you? Never underestimate NBC! He's already won two bronze medals in Vancouver for individual ski jumping, now he's trying for a team medal. He also has a clothing line and sells photographs. I guess rock stars are different in Austria.

• Coming up in four minutes: Michael Phelps. Michael Phelps?! He's not even at the right Olympics! Are they adding one of those polar bear plunges to the Winter Games?

• Bob Costas interviews Phelps in the studio. Aren't there any athletes from THIS Olympics we can interview? About the only newsworthy thing that comes out of this is that Phelps says he won't swim in eight races in London. I think we can give this entire interview a giant "who cares?" It could have been more interesting if Bob had asked if he was going to go hang out with the snowboarders later. Duuuuude!

• We finish the Team Ski Jumping. Austria is the winner. I know you were all on the edge of your seat waiting for that one. Go Schlieri!

• Tom Brokaw is in the studio to give us some fluff about an athlete who isn't even here. Tom originally visited the Pearce family last September, so now we know how far in advance these fluff pieces are prepared. Kevin Pearce is the rare snowboarder who has actually beaten Shaun White in competition, but he suffered a traumatic brain injury during a training run and was in a coma for six days. Because of all of this, he was unable to compete in Vancouver.

We don't see any video of Kevin in his current state, but Tom does show us a a still photo of Kevin smiling with his family that was taken two days ago. But apparently he still has a long road to recovery.

Is this all sad? Yes. But again, why are we spending eight minutes of Olympic coverage covering an athlete who isn't in the Olympics?

• Now we're at the ice rink for the Ice Dancing free skate. The first couple is Vanessa Crone and Paul Poirier from Canada. One of the songs they're dancing to is "Bohemian Rhapsody." Given the Canadian connection, how could they not do the head-banging part of that song? Now THAT would have been some ice dancing. Party on, Garth!

•  But before we see any more ice dancing, let's preview the start of the Women's Figure Skating event tomorrow night. Must we? In more tragic news for this Olympics, Canadian skater Joannie Rochette's mother died the other day, and Scott wonders if she'll be able to handle the love that is showered down upon her. Ugh... I can hear him writing the fluff story already. This is a fluff preview of fluff to come.

• Off to Whistler, for the Men's Freestyle Aerials qualifying runs. They get two runs and, unlike the snowboard halfpipe, they both count. The top 12 of 25 skiers advance to Thursday's final. Since this isn't the medal run, everyone's expected to be a little conservative. So don't expect any of the really good tricks to happen tonight. In fact, back in the studio, Bob tells us we're not even going to see round two in the primetime broadcast. If we want to see that we've got to come back after your late local news. Look at me. Now I'm even starting to talk like I work at NBC.

• American Jeret "Speedy" Peterson is an adrenaline junky, so he gets 30 seconds of fluff.

•  The brother/sister team of Sinead and John Kerr from Great Britain are skating to Linkin Park's "Crawling," to appeal to the younger audience. Wouldn't a better strategy be to appeal to the the older judges? They do skate well, though. And what do the old judges think of their young music? First place for now. I guess the judges are nu metal fans.

•  The French pair of Isabelle Delobel and Oliver Schoenfelder start out by playfully assaulting each other, because what makes a better theme for a skating routine than domestic violence?

Okay, the theme of the routine is the story of their career together, so maybe the punching and tripping represents when they were kids. Given that she just had a baby three months ago, I can't wait to see how they represent THAT on the ice.

They wisely leave the birthing segment out of their routine and the judges reward them accordingly.

• Russians Jana Khokhlova and Sergei Novitski dance to a rocked-up version of "The Firebird." Their costumes are great, but I don't know if their skating was.

• Flashback fluff! Back when Charlie White was 10 years old he got interviewed by a local news station while going onto the ice for a hockey game. They were asking him if he liked hockey better than figure skating. He said his favorite was whichever he was doing right then. Good answer! Now White and Davis, both students at the University of Michigan, say if there's anything that could top a Michigan football game it would be an Olympic medal. Has Charlie BEEN to a Michigan game the last few years? Trust me, there are a lot of things that would top that, now.

•  Here's some alpine skiing fluff. It's really just a recap of the events so far. First we weren't sure how Lindsey Vonn, Bode Miller, or Julia Mancuso would do. Then they all won medals. Yay, USA! And they might win some more. Yay, predicting the future! And this was four minutes of fluff! Boooooo!!

•  Finally! It's the last five pairs in ice dancing. I didn't know if I was going to make it through all of the fluff to get here. Ted Hammond says we'll get to see the last five couples without commercial interruption. That at least explains why NBC's been doubling up on their commercial breaks for the last hour.

•  The first group up is Meryl Davis and Charlie White of the United States, currently in second place. They'll be dancing to "Phantom of the Opera." Shouldn't he be wearing half a mask or something?

They skate, and Tracy Wilson likes them. What do the judges say? They like them, and they're in first place, so everyone else will be compared to them now.

• Up next, Italy's Faiella and Scali. They were fifth going into this round, so they don't matter. Ha ha! I kid! I kid! I'm sure they matter to Italians. Learn to say "cinque," Italy.

• And here come the Canadians, Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir. Scott says they "feel like all of Canada is on the ice with" them. That's going to be some crowded skating. They'll be skating to a Bryan Adams/Rush medley. No, not really. But wouldn't that be cool?

"Oh, Canada!" exclaims Ted Hammond at the end of their routine. He's been saving that line all week. Well, they WERE good. Tracy calls it stunning. Psh! She's such a homer. Will they beat Davis and White?

Yes, by a long shot. They're so far ahead now that only they can win gold. Right? Maybe. They tell each other that, but are they as good at math as they are at skating?

• And now Tanith Belbin and that guy she skates with dancing to "Ave Maria" and "Amen." They start from fourth place. Tanith is at a disadvantage because it's going to be awfully hard to skate once her hotness melts the ice.

She and Ben Agosto dance well. Not well enough to get gold, but they should be in at least third place for now. Let's see what the judges say.

Yep. Third place. I don't know how ice dancing is scored, but I know enough to figure up probable scores! It'll be up to the Russians to pass them.

• Here's one thing I DO like about ice dancing over ice skating: I don't have to listen to Scott Hamilton groaning and grunting through every routine. I'm not looking forward to THAT in the Women's Figure Skating.

•  Last up, the Russians Oksana Domnina and Maksim Shabalin. They were third going into the last skate. They end up skating well.

They're not going to beat Virtue/Moir or Davis/White, but will they beat Belbin and Agosto? Psh! They get the bronze.

The big news is Canada wins the gold! Which means we should get another national anthem sing-a-long here in about ten minutes.

• So, while we wait for the ice dancing medal ceremony, we get a recap of yesterday's U.S./Canada hockey game, which apparently was the most-watched sports program ever in Canada. Good! That means that all of Canada now knows that the United States has better goalies. HA!

•  Back to the ice rink for the medals. Hey, did you know before this year Canada had never won a gold medal during an Olympics that they'd hosted? Funny how you don't hear that stat anymore. It's only been a week since it was broken!

So, Virtue and Moir train in Michigan. Do they know the Canadian national anthem? Yes, they do. And so does everyone else in the building. Sing loud, Canucks! Because in the hockey final, you're going to be singing the Star Spangled Banner. HA!

It was the worst day for fluff so far this Olympics, and you could tell just by the pacing of the show. Where everything's been non-stop events for most of the Games, today's broadcast just didn't get much of a rhythm going until the end.

For Tuesday, the 2010 Rockwood Olympic Watch will just be an abbreviated version. Since I have to work tomorrow evening, I won't be able to time out four hours of coverage. I'll get in some comments, but it will be a light day. See you then!