Slapping The Blind
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
NBC reaches a new low in begging for sympathy,
and athletes show you how to slap your way to success. It's Day
13 of the Vancouver Olympics!
• We start tonight with the
Men's 4x10km cross-country ski relay. There are no Americans
in this event
at all, yet we're
starting with it! That's kind of cool.
For your future Olympic
attendance reference, look at the surroundings at this race.
The crowd is right
up against the fence and they're all cheering. The snow is
lightly falling. The mountain scenery is beautiful. Doesn't
that look like fun?
I'll bet you the tickets are cheap, too,
compared to, say, the gold medal hockey game. Just for grins,
States beat Switzerland in hockey this afternoon to advance
to the semifinals, I looked up how much it would cost to buy
to the hockey final. Stubhub says:
$2,700 per ticket. Yowza! Well, I'm sure it will be on TV.
• Petter Northug is a cross-country
skier from Norway. He's brash and in-your-face! He's the alpha
male of cross-country skiing! His attitude is extreeeeeme! This
might all be true, but even if he's great, he's still just a cross-country
skier. That might mean something in Norway, Petter, but here
it's only good for fluff.
• Mary Carillo rides a dog sled for fluff! Mary has once again journeyed
1,300 miles from Vancouver, all the way to Manitoba, so she can
visit a sled dog camp. We're introduced to the owners and the dogs. Awwww!
They're so CUTE! But Mary's favorite dog, Isabelle, isn't just
cute, she's also blind. Yes! BLIND! A blind sled dog! This is fantastic!
It's not enough for NBC that their human fluff is based on tragedy,
now they've managed to scour the entire country of Canada until
they could find a tragic sled dog! In a twisted way, I'm impressed that
they could still find a way to surprise me.
Still, Manitoba? 1,300 miles? Do you remember
in 1996 during the Atlanta games all of those great stories NBC
did about Fargo, North Dakota? No? Well, how about in 2002 during
the Salt Lake games, all of those wonderful stories about St. Louis?
Still no? Well, that's how far 1,300 miles is. NBC has apparently
made no effort at all to find something to do near Vancouver. Although,
to be fair, it's not like you can just call up a web page that
to do in Vancouver. That would be totally unrealistic.
• But speaking of weird fluff statistics,
reader Kent asks:
I was wondering if you ever charted over time the sports vs fluff
vs ads. It seems like the sports coverage has increased this year
- what is your take?
Well, we aim to please, so we went back
through the archives and graphed our results.
appears your gut was correct, Kent. Over the course of the years,
NBC has increased the amount of event coverage and decreased the
amount of fluff in their Olympic broadcasts.
But look how much
fluff there was in 2000. When we first decided to do the Olympic
it was mainly in protest
of how much fluff NBC put on the air. The average time
spent on events in 2000 was 61 percent. There were nights when
it was as low as 54 percent, that is, barely half of
a four hour Olympic show was Olympics.
So, things are better now, but there's still
room for improvement!
• Off to Fog Mountain for
the Women's Giant Slalom. Could Vancouver be any less lucky with
the weather they've gotten for these Olympics?
First they went weeks without snow. Then it was raining on the
snow that was already there, causing it to melt. And now it's so foggy
on Cypress Mountain that we can barely even see the skiers. If
Lindsey Vonn wins a gold, will we even know?
• Whoa! I guess it doesn't matter. Lindsey catches an edge about two-thirds
of the way down and crashes into the snow fence. Even stranger,
Julia Mancuso is already on the course and bearing down on Vonn's crash
site. Isn't this dangerous?
Yes it is. Race officials give Julia
a yellow flag, which stops her run. I've never seen THAT before! This is the
ever seen. Now they take Mancuso back to the top of the hill
to do her run again. I know this is all tape-delayed, but does
any time to recover? It seems really unfair to stop her potentially-leading
run and immediately send her back on the top of the mountain
to race again.
But that's what they do, and while she
was challenging for first
place on her first run, on her second run she finishes 18th.
She's obviously upset. I don't blame her. Moments later, the
suspend the event due to fog, so run two of the giant slalom
won't happen until tomorrow.
• Oh yes, it's Ohno! Over to short
track speed skating we go for the Men's 500m quarterfinals. Apolo
qualifies for the United States, as does
Simon Cho. American Jordan Malo would have qualified for the semis, but
he trips himself up and falls down on his very last turn. There
is no sure thing in short track speed skating!
• Off to Whistler for the third and fourth runs of the Two-Woman Bobsled.
Remember: slapping equals success!
The US2 sled does some slapping
and finishes second again. US3 does no slapping and finishes sixth. Even more
gold medalist Sandra Kiriasis abstains from slapping and drops
down to fifth. Slapping is the key, people! Do you want to win
US1 doesn't slap and finishes seventh.
How many times do we have
to prove it?
• Back to the short track
for the Women's 3000m Relay. Andy Gabel shows us a diagram describing
the relay exchange process. It's actually
very interesting, and given that there are many Olympic events
we only see once every four years, a rules refresher is appreciated.
In the race itself, the U.S. falls behind
early and finishes a disappointing fourth, while Korea ends up
taking it all. Or
they? No! Korea
gets disqualified because one of their skaters bumped a Chinese
skater. The U.S. gets the bronze by default!
Here's a question:
Say one of
the other teams had bumped someone and two different teams had
been disqualified. Would the Olympics then award the bronze medal
team that finished fifth? Or would they just not give the bronze?
I have no idea. If you know, write
• Figure skating fluff! Let's look at preview of tomorrow night's skaters
in slow-motion with dramatic music, shall we? We also just get
a preview with Ted Hammond, Scott Hamilton, and Sandra Bezic. Borrrrring.
Nothing to see here. Move along.
• Back to the bobsled run. C'mon
US1! Slap your way to a medal! Hmmm... a good run, but not enough
slapping and not enough speed.
Germany 2 does a high five slap
and a closing-the-visor slap.
OH! They flip over halfway down and the brakeman flies out
of the back
of the sled! Both Germans are okay, which is not an idle concern
at this track. I guess the slap doesn't always work.
The last three sleds start with Canada 2. No slapping, but they're
the leaders for now. The crowd goes nuts. Will we be seeing another "Oh,
Canada" sing-a-long in the near future?
Next up, US2. There's
the slap! This should be good. Second place with only Canada
1 to go! So I guess we WILL be singing "Oh,
Canada" again. In fact, Canada 1 finishes in first, so the
Canadians go 1-2 tonight. That's going to be one wild medal ceremony.
• Cris Collinsworth is here to tell
us to expect the unexpected. Is he wearing a paisley handkerchief?
That's certainly unexpected.
Anyway, to prove that sometimes strange things happen to effect an athlete's
performance he shows us Julia Mancuso's suspended run in the
Giant Slalom today and Sven Kramer's lap mistake in the 10,000m
skating from last night. This doesn't seem quite fair. After all, technically
Julia could still win with a good run tomorrow. Whatever. The
lesson from Professor Collinsworth is that not everything is
control. Here's another example: I tuned in to NBC tonight to
watch the Olympics, and instead I'm watching Cris Collinsworth
be a philosopher.
At least he's not a blind philosopher. That would be fantastic!
• Back to the mountain for
our first look tonight at the Women's Aerials. One of the television
advantages in a sport like this is that all
of the action happens in one small area, so all of the camera
angles are good. And tonight, the fog makes some of those angles
more dramatic. The long shot is particularly cool, because the shadowy
jumper emerges from the fog just in time to fly upward, then
spin while silhouetted against the sky. It's very arty. And since
doesn't explain things very well, it's also about all I have
to go on for this event.
One Chinese aerial skier was known as "The General." The
next one is known as "The Princess." Have I missed
something? Do all freestyle competitors have to have a nickname?
skier Lydia Lassila is "The Flying Kangaroo," so maybe
they do. The Flying Kangaroo wins gold over The General and The
Princess. That sounds like children's story time.
• And now a slow-motion recap of this afternoon's
U.S.-Switzerland hockey game. Didn't we have something just like
this a couple of
days ago featuring the U.S.-Canada hockey game? Did I count that
as fluff or news? I don't remember now.
Ah yes. News. That's okay. It's the first time they've mentioned
it tonight, so that's fair.
That was a weird day, wasn't it? But
part of the joy of the Olympic Games is never knowing what's going
to happen, so I guess we were due for a little weirdness. Only
four more days to go! See you for one of them tomorrow!