FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 16, 2018
It's time to start a catchphrase.
- A four-hour show tonight. That's plenty of time for NBC to squeeze in a bunch of events. Or, a bunch of fluff. Let's see which it is!
- If you were up late last night, you saw the prelims for the Women's Freestyle ski jumping. Tonight we get to see the finals. Madison Olsen of the US starts us off and immediately lands on her face. That probably wasn't how she was hoping to start out. Next up Alla Tsuper is of Belarus. She also lands on her face. Is this some new trick I've never heard of? I suppose if it is they'll come up with some weird name for it. A triple-full-twist-McFacey-plant, maybe.
- This is event is not live, by the way. How can you tell? Two ways. One, of course, is the word "live" is not in the upper corner of the screen. The other is that when NBC broadcasts recorded events, the commercial breaks are twice as long. You don't have as much time for ads when the athletes are performing live.
- Shirtless fluff! Tonga's Pita Taufatofua, who carried the flag for his country into the Opening Ceremonies for both the 2016 and 2018 Olympics, is now a cross-country skier. Mike Tirico tells us that normally they might show footage of his rookie attempt at cross-country skiing as a joke, instead has a surprise! He didn't finish in last place! Well, he finished 115th out of 119 skiers. That's not exactly competitive. However, he still managed to qualify for two different Olympics in two different sports, and he just wants to be an inspiring figure for kids. I'd say he succeeded. Still, it's fluff.
- Over to pre-recorded Women's Slopestyle skiing. We see a few skiers make it all the way down in this qualifying event, but several others do a McFacey plant. Yes, I'm going to try to make this happen.
- Let's talk to Lindsey Vonn's grandfather. He and her grandmother have a basement bookshelf dedicated to their granddaughter, and Linsdey gives Mike Tirico a tour. Don Kildow, the grandfather, was stationed in Korea during the war over 60 years ago, and is excited about her going there for the Olympics. Grandpa Don built a ski slope near his house when he returned from Korea, and that was the start of the Vonn ski legacy. Lindsey's grandfather passed away shortly after this piece was recorded, says Mike, and this was the last time she saw him. So, yes, this is fluff, but it was a nice story.
- Off to the slope LIVE to see if Lindsey Vonn can do her grandpa proud. And we'll find out right away, because she'll be the first skier on the Women's Super-G. Oops. Never mind. The Super-G won't actually start for another hour. But that was a live tease!
- Instead, let's go LIVE to the Men's Figure Skating freestyle program. First up, Nathan Chen of the United States, who probably blew his medal shot yesterday when he fell down. But, Tara says he still has a shot at a bronze, so let's see what happens.
He stumbles on a jump early, but then just keeps doing quad jumps. Each one makes Tara yell even more. And he does have a bunch of green dots. Given how far down the order he is, he'll probably end up in first place for now just because all of the better skaters will perform later. But he was impressive. Wow! He gets 215 points! What does that mean? I have no idea. I guess it's better than 200. Terry Gannon says it's the fifth highest score in the freestyle skate EVER. Okay, well that puts it more in perspective. Maybe he could even win later if a few leaders do a double-Axel, triple-McFacey-plant.
- All this time I thought the "Kiss and Cry" area was just lingo the figure skating announcers used as an inside joke for the place the skaters go to wait for their scores. But then tonight, when Uzbekistan's Misha Ge was waiting for his score, I saw his coach's credential, and sure enough, it said "Kiss & Cry" on it. So I guess it's official. Who knew?
- Toyota has these 10-second long commercials that air in between the time the skaters end and the time they go to the Kiss & Cry area. I haven't been counting them in the ad total because they're so short. They're like blipverts.
- Yuzuru Hanyu of Japan is trying to become the first figure skating gold medalist to repeat as Olympic champion in xx years. He has a dedicated fan following, who shower him with Winnie-The-Pooh dolls. Why? We never find out. That probably would have made a more interesting story than the one they told. Fluff!
- Back on the Super G slope, Lindsey Vonn is ready to go LIVE! She's the first skier, which hasn't been a lucky position for a lot of the other alpine events this Olympics. Let's hope it works out better for her.
She sure looks fast. OH! Near the bottom she swings wide outside a gate. She stayed on the course and recovered, but that's probably not good for holding on to the lead.
The second skier, Tessa Worley of France, finishes over two seconds behind Vonn. Bode says that's a good sign for Lindsey because maybe everyone else won't be as aggressive. And then the third skier finishes two tenths ahead of Vonn. I think her chances are low. Three racers later, Vonn is out of the medals. She'll have to wait until the downhill next week for a shot at a medal.
- We need to take a moment here and talk about Bode Miller. I've had plenty of critical things to say about him in the past, but now he gets his due. He's probably the best skiing commentator NBC has ever had. I've been watching these alpine events since forever, and I've never understood the strategy behind them until Bode explained it this Olympics. Even his prediction about Lindsey Vonn's having a medal chance today, which I thought was completely unrealistic, turned out to be close to correct, as she finished in fifth. If he can refrain from commenting on the institute of marriage in the future, I think he'll have a long career.
- Back to live skating and Adam Rippon. His program was pretty and Tara is clearly in love with him, but after watching Nathan Chen, it's obvious that Rippon's program is nowhere near Chen's caliber. He finishes 40 points behind Chen. He's currently in fourth, but that probably won't hold up.
- A surprise awaits us on the mountain! Dan Hicks and Bode Miller have told us on several different alpine events that even though there are 50-or-so skiers, there are really only around 20 that are competitive. So earlier, on the Women's Super G, when they had reached that number, NBC cut to other coverage. But wait! Ester Ledecka, a snowboarder from the Czech Republic, didn't get that memo. As one of those noncompetitive skiers, she flew down the mountain and beat leader Anna Veith's time by one-one hundredth of a second. And this is why you watch the Olympics. Veith instantly looks stunned, because she realizes what happened. But Ledecka stares dumbfounded at the leaderboard, trying to figure out what those numbers actually mean. Heather Cox adds nothing in her post-race interview, asking Ledecka how did she ski like she had nothing to lose? Uh… maybe because she had nothing to lose?
- Back at figure skating, probably for the rest of the night. China's Jin Boyang skates to "Mars: The Bringer of War." Nothing to worry about there, foreign policy watchers! Then it segues into "Cantina Band." and then "Star Wars: End Theme." That's a little scattered, and so was his program. He fell once. Will he beat Chen? Yes, by four tenths of a point. Vincent Zhou of the United States is now on the bubble in third place.
- Patrick Chan of Canada is next, skating to "Hallelujah." Did he skate to this earlier or was that someone else? I can't remember anymore.
- The place where the skaters watch their scores come up is called the Kiss & Cry area. Jin Boyang, Nathan Chen, and Vincent Zhou are all lounging on overstuffed chairs and surfing on their phones while they wait to see if they have to move to an uncomfortable folding chair in a back room of the arena. What do they call the room where they are sitting?
- Next on the ice, Winnie The Pooh! Actually, it's Japan's Yuzuru Hanyu now, but once he finishes, the ice will be covered with Pooh bear dolls. Why? I don't know! Wouldn't that have been a great question to have been asked in that three minute fluff segment earlier? He ends his program with two red dots and hundreds of Pooh dolls. NBC gets a good shot of the container holding all the dolls the arena workers are picking up off the ice. Let's just call it the "binny-of-Pooh." Hanyu moves into first. Zhou gets kicked off of his comfy chair.
- And now here's one for the ladies. Suave Spanish skater Javier Fernandez takes the ice to some flamenco music and "Dream The Impossible Dream." No red dots. It probably wasn't as athletic as Jin or Hanyu, but it was cleaner. He could be a contender for an overstuffed chair. He is! He moves into second place, and Chen is bumped down to folding-chair status.
- Japan's Shoma Uno closes out the night with Nessun Dorma. And also by falling a couple of times. No comfy chair for him!
But wait! I don't know anything about figure skating scoring. It turns out the judges like him enough to get second place, bumping China's Jin down to the folding-chair purgatory. Japan finishes one-two, Hanyu repeats as Olympics champion, and Nathan Chen's poor short program dooms him to fifth place.
- How should we close out a night full of events? How about with Carrie Underwood singing a song over some clips of athletes? Fluff!
Unexpected skiers and figure skating medals. There are worse ways to spend an evening. Like doing a McFacey plant, for example. See you tomorrow!