TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 20, 2018
THE HALLMARK CHANNEL SPORTS NETWORK
It's all women, all the time.
- "Slay, Girl, Slay" says NBC right at the top of the show over a montage of clips featuring female athletes. Starting the show with a minute of fluff isn't a great sign of things to come, I fear.
- It's time for LIVE figure skating! The Ladies' Short program starts off with American Bradie Tennell. She falls early, but otherwise does well. And now that we've gotten her score, NBC is cutting away from figure skating. If you want to watch more non-Americans skating you'll have to head over to NBCSN. Pass!
- Instead, let's watch the Two-Woman Bobsled. The first three sleds we see are the three leaders, one Canadian and two Americans. They're all close, and very competitive. What can we bring in to spice up this event?
- Usain Bolt! Yes, even in Winter Olympics, NBC can figure out a way to Bolt into the broadcast. Fluff! Tonight he's wishing the Jamaican bobsled team good luck. They're not nearly as fast as he was. They are currently in 15th place.
- More Lindsey Vonn fluff! Let's talk about all the ways and places she's been hurt. It's a lot. It takes over two minutes to talk about it all. But now she's healthy so we don't have to speak of this again. Right? Ha ha ha! Like they won't talk about this again.
- Short track madness! Tonight it's the finals of the Women's 3,000-Meter Relay. No Americans are in this race, so I can only assume this is part of what appears to be NBC's All-Woman night. South Korea wins, but it sure seems to me that a Korean skater knocked out the Canadian. Is that not a penalty? Well, it turns out there ARE some penalties, but they enforce it on Canada! That doesn't make any sense to me. But I'm sure it's on the up-and-up, because no Olympic decision that favors the Koreans could ever be corrupt.
- To the mountain for… seriously? Sigh. More Lindsey Vonn fluff. One more minute of how long she's been waiting to ski. What will NBC do if she doesn't win? I half think they haven't even planned for that contingency.
- LIVE! It's finally the Women's Downhill. This time for real! It's not a training run today, and Vonn will be skiing seventh, Steve Porino tells us, because she wants to follow Italy's Sofia Goggia. Why? Because Lindsey thinks that in the past Goggia has been using Vonn's line to improve her time, and Vonn wants to deprive her of that advantage. That's some good strategy right there, and some good reporting by Porino.
- Goggia starts fifth and finishes with the lead. Now can Vonn beat her? She's smiling at the start gate. Let's see if all that NBC fluff pays off. Oof. Vonn finishes almost a half-second behind Goggia. That's a long way back. The next skier is America's Breezy Johnson and she finishes over a second back, so maybe Goggia and Vonn are just that much better than everyone else. Laurenne Ross, the next American finishes almost two seconds back.
Now thirteen skiers in, Goggia's and Vonn's times seem to be holding up pretty well. Next up, Ashley McKennis is America's last chance at number 14. Her main advantage is that Vonn has been sending her information from the bottom of the hill. It doesn't help enough to get her a medal, but she does finish fourth..
- Camera geekery! When the skycam follows the downhill skiers over a long portion of the middle of the course, you can see the tracks of the previous skiers that the current skier is trying to follow. Interesting shot!
- Heather Cox interviews Lindsey Vonn – of course – as she waits to see the other skiers finish. In case you were wondering if this was actually live, during the interview another skier crashes and Vonn immediately turns to look. Yep! Live crashes!
- Here's an interesting problem: last Friday, NBC cut away from live skiing saying that the remaining skiers didn't have a chance to win. Sure enough, one of them did. It seems unlikely that would happen again, but you never know! Will NBC cut to another event after 20-or-so skiers, playing the odds that the unexpected won't happen again?
- Skier nineteen is Norway's Ragnhild Mowinckel. Every time Dan Hicks says her name, my first thought is always "did he just say Rocky and Bullwinkle?" She skis her way into second, knocking Vonn into third. Are we out of competitive skiers yet? Well, they're getting close.
- Hicks and Bode are hedging their bets, saying that the remaining skiers are not expected to be contenders, but you never know with those winds higher on the mountain!
- While we watch non-competitive skiers, I have another question. Most of these women have long hair that sticks out from their helmets in some kind of ponytail. Given that cyclists have known for decades that wearing a helmet makes you faster than someone riding with an exposed ponytail, why isn't someone telling these skiers to somehow pull their hair up, especially in a sport where tenths-of-a-second can be the difference between gold and nothing?
- Heather Cox interviews Lindsey Vonn – again – about this downhill being probably the last of her career and about what her grandfather would be thinking right now. Cox is just pushing her buttons now, and it works. Vonn spends a couple of minutes tearfully expressing her love for the sport and her grandfather. And with that, we're done on NBC with the downhill. You can watch more skiing on cable, if you're the kind of person who believes in miracles.
- Back to the bobsled, or at least to the leaders' runs. After runs featuring two German sleds, a Canadian, and two Americans, those five are only three-tenths apart. Tomorrow should be interesting.
- Time to make some money! That's right, it's figure skating. We've been gone for almost two hours, and Bradie Tennell is still in first place. But now, as Dan Hicks and Bode miller would surely tell us, the actual contenders are here.
- The United States' Marai Nagasu misses her first jump, but makes the rest. She's followed by Canadian Gabrielle Daleman, who channels her inner Katarina Witt and skates to "Carmen." She, too, falls once, but still scores well.
- American Karen Chen has fancy gloves. This gives Johnny Weir a chance to open up his photo album to show a time when he wore fancy gloves. Hopefully no skater will be wearing what Johnny is wearing tonight, which looks like it came from Michael Jackson's garage sale.
- Next up from Kazakhstan is Elizabet Tursynbayeva skating to… "Carmen." Yes, really. The "Now That's What I Call Music: Figure Skating Edition" CD would just be 15 different versions of "Carmen."
- Choi Da-Bin of South Korea is the last skater in this group. She does well and makes the home crowd happy. And that's all for NBC tonight! My DVR said they were going to be on the air for another 30 minutes, but I guess they audibled so they wouldn't have to show half of the last group of skaters.
It's hard to be too upset with NBC when they only show one minute of fluff, but their obsession with Lindsey Vonn is getting tiring. Hopefully tomorrow night she'll make all the hype worth it. See you then!