WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 21, 2018
A FIRST-TIME AMERICAN GOLD!
That doesn't happen very often.
- We start off tonight on the mountain LIVE with the Men's Slalom. Since last night was all women's sports, tonight will be all men. Ha ha ha! That's ridiculous! No one at NBC would ever approve something as sexist as
- JINX! Dan Hicks and Bode Miller talk about how Austria's Marcel Hirscher has finished every slalom event he's raced in the past two years, and hadn't missed a single gate in the giant slalom in seven years. And as soon as they finished the sentence, BOOM! He was off the course and out of the Olympics. That's a big deal. Even my DVR info leads tonight's description with "Austria's Marcel Hirscher is favored to capture his first Olympic gold in men's slalom…" Who knew that Hicks and Miller had such power?
- Hirscher's crash leaves Norwegian Henrik Kristoffersen currently in first place. Again with Norway in first place! How many gold medals do they have in this Olympics? All of them, I think.
- To recorded cross-country skiing we go for the Women's Relay Sprint. The United States has never medaled in this event, and American Jessica Diggins is in the lead group of three skiers. Can we assume that since NBC is even bothering to show us this event that that streak is about to end? For the second-to-last lap, she passes off to Kikkan Randall, who is going to try to make a move, but she's behind a Norwegian. Uh-oh. Now on the last leg, it's up to Diggins to not fall down. If she can just do that, the US will finally medal in cross-country. OH! On the final turn, Diggins makes the move to pass Sweden's Stina Nilsson and analyst Chad Salmela loses his mind. I'm sure whatever it is he's screaming is thoughtful and relevant analysis, but he could also be being brutally attacked in the announcing booth. I can't really tell. Regardless, Diggins outlasts Nilsson at the stretch and wins not only America's first medal in this event, but their first GOLD medal in this event. The photo-finish picture is perfect here. Nilsson is stretching out, her face clearly in pain from exhaustion, broken by finishing second. Diggins is stretched out, her arms overhead and a smile on her face so big it's as if she realized exactly at the finish line that she was the first-ever gold medalist for her country. Fantastic.
- Even Diggins and Randall's post-race interview is fantastic. Remember Red Gerard, America's 17-year-old Slopestyle sweetheart from a week-and-a-half ago? His reaction to winning gold was basically, "Huh-huh….dude!" Maybe not that he expected to win gold, but that it had been something he'd considered, in an off-hand kind of way. By comparison, Diggins and Randall are beside themselves, as if they can't even contemplate that this moment really exists. Whereas Red's attitude is that this gold medal might not even be the greatest thing to happen to him this week, Diggins and Randall appreciate that not only is this the greatest moment of THEIR lives, but it might be the greatest moment of OTHER US cross-country skiers' lives. Beautiful.
- Time to slide! It's the final round of the Two-Woman Bobsled. We see Nigeria and Jamaica go first because they're the worst two teams. Then after the commercial break, a miscellaneous German sled has supplanted them in first place. So we get to see the runs of the worst two sleds but not the run of the potential winner? Oooookay. The Canadian sled of Kaillie Humphries passes the Germans for first place and there are two sleds. Maybe the reason we didn't see the Germans is because they won't medal, either. The second-to-last team is USA-1 driven by Elana Meyers Taylor, and they finish in first. So the mystery Germans are now in third. The last team is Germany-1 piloted by Mariama Jamanka. And… Germany-1 wins gold. USA-1 wins silver. Canada wins bronze. Mystery Germany, Nigeria, and Jamaica all get nothing but memories.
- Back to the mountain we go, again LIVE for the downhill portion of the Women's Super Combined, Lindsey Vonn's last chance to live up to the promotional segments that NBC has assembled for her. And boy, did she deliver. She finishes almost three-quarters of a second ahead of the previous skiers. That's going to put a lot of pressure on the skiers that follow her. Mikaela Shiffrin goes down six spots later, but she's a slalom specialist, not a downhiller like Vonn, so she's slower, but still in sixth place and expected to make it up later.
- Trace Worthington welcomes us LIVE to the Men's Halfpipe Freestyle skiing, saying we have joined them at the perfect time. Well, Trace, I can't say that I had a lot of choice in the matter, but thanks for the gracious greeting. Wait… we joined at the end of the round two? Trace, why would you think missing over half the competition is the perfect time? Why?!
- Anyway, here we are at the halfpipe, where any given run could be the gold medal winner. Well, any run except for the one that Nico Porteous of New Zealand just made. He's currently in second place and didn't even make an attempt to win gold. He has a really good score now, but I don't understand why you wouldn't even try to do something better. Scores aren't additive, so even a crash wouldn't hurt his placement. It just seems like a bad strategy to me to assume that no one will beat you when literally every skier following you is an Olympic-class skier trying something amazing to get the gold. And sure enough, the very next skier, David Wise of the US, beats Nico's score. Porteous is now in third with four skiers left to beat him.
- On the other hand, France's Kevin Rolland misses on a trick and smashes his leg against the top of the halfpipe, sending NBC into an injury commercial break. Maybe Nico was thinking he'd rather take his chances with a high score than with the edge of the slope. Two skiers later, American Torin Yater-Wallace also catches the top edge of the pipe, his day ending in injury.
- US skier Alex Ferreira, who was already in silver, gets another silver run. So Nico only has one skier left who could beat him, America's Aaron Blunt. He skis well and doesn't crash onto the top of the halfpipe, but is his score enough to beat Porteous' 94.80? Blunt gets… 84.80. Nope. Nico's gamble pays off. Shows what I know.
- Remember Big Air? What was worthy of tens of minutes of live coverage the other night is now only worth a brief recap here at the end of the broadcast. I guess I wasn't the only one unimpressed. But Jamie Anderson won silver for the United States, so there is that.
- A medal ceremony! We haven't had many of those since Norway is winning all the golds. Even tonight it isn't a US gold, it's Sofia Goggia's win over Lindsey Vonn yesterday in the Women's Downhill. So complete is NBC's coverage of Vonn that we even get to see the medal ceremonies of the people who beat her.
- And to end the night, we get our one-minute of fluff, a video montage of the American women athletes in this Olympics set to Salute. Am I the only one who thinks this is pandering? Leave your comments below.
Only one minute of fluff, again, and a first-time American medal in the cross-country. Good times! Let's hope it continues! See you on Thursday!