FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 23, 2018
THE OLYMPICS WIND DOWN
All the big events will be happening live after midnight.
- Welcome to Saturday! Uh… I mean Friday night. But that's Saturday in Korea. So here's the question: Tomorrow will be Saturday here and Sunday in Korea. Which means by the time Sunday's broadcast airs in America, the Olympics will have been over for more than half a day. What is NBC planning to air then? Methinks Sunday is fluff day.
- We start tonight with the four-man bobsled and footage from the two-man bobsled where Germany's Nico Walther flipped his sled while crossing the finish line. I'm pretty sure NBC has shown that clip every time they've shown any bobsled event this Olympics. It's the new agony-of-defeat ski jumping guy.
- We've had three sleds so far, and by the bottom of the hill, they've all gone almost 90 miles per hour. That's in a seatbelt-less bathtub on skates that brakes Flintstone-style, by dragging a metal foot across ice. During the Latvian run, announcer Leigh Diffey asks us to listen to the bobsled's roar down the ice. Then he actually stops talking and lets us listen. This is awesome, but it still doesn't capture the real sensation of being there. I went to both skeleton and the four-man bobsled in the 2002 Salt Lake games. The skeleton sleds blow by you with a quiet whoosh. If you weren't paying attention, it might even be possible to miss them. But you can hear the four-man sleds three turns away. It starts as a rumble, almost like distant thunder. Then it gets louder and louder until it reaches you, where it sounds like the roar of a jet engine as it blasts by you and roars away. It's amazing.
- It's time for some Steve Holcomb fluff. Steve was the US bobsled pilot who won gold in Vancouver and two bronzes in Sochi. He died tragically young last year and NBC interviews probably everyone on the US bobsled team to talk about their fond memories of him. Then they show his mother in the crowd, who is here supporting the team even though her son is no longer here.
- To speed skating, where Mike Tirico hints that the US might actually win a medal tonight in the Men's 1,000-meters. America's Joey Mantia leads off the coverage and gets the lead. How long can he hold it? Shani Davis of the US races next and finishes third. That's probably not going to hold up. He was racing Takuro Oda of Japan who ties Mantia, so the Olympic committee goes to the thousandths-column again. Mantia is still in first! But not for long. Two skaters in the next two races pass Mantia, bumping him all the way down to third. Was Mike Tirico lying to us? One pair of skaters to go! Doh! Kjeld Nuis of the Netherlands knocks Mantia off the podium. Mike tricked us!
- "Welcome to the greatest show on snow," we're told by announcer Todd Harris as we join the third run of the Men's Snowboarding Big Air competition LIVE. If this is really the greatest show, why did we wait until the third run to get here? This is more impressive than the women's Big Air because with the men the… uh… air… hmm… is bigger. Anyway, Red Gerard goes first –remember him from two weeks ago?– but he doesn't make it into medal contention. This is the only snowboard sport in the Olympics where they combine the boarders' two best scores instead of just taking the best of their three runs. Wouldn't that make it even more important that we see more than just the third run?
- This absence of the first two rounds is putting a damper on the Big Air coverage. Because it's the best two out of three scores, the reality is that by round three, the positions are mostly set. There are only two or three boarders who could even possibly move up to medal status, and because the rest of them have to perform jumps so hard that they're unrealistic, they almost all crash on the landing. But Kyle Mack of the US picks up a silver, so it's not a total loss.
- Around the games we go for curling madness! The Korean women beat Japan and will go to the gold medal game. And speaking of gold medal curling, tune in after midnight tonight to see if the US team can pull out the gold against the Swedes. Also, the failure of the Canadians is complete. Their men's hockey team lost today, meaning that there are no Canadian men or women in either the hockey or curling finals. What has happened to the Great White North? The lack of focus starts at the top.
- Back to the bobsled for run two. Sideline reporter –should that be side-track reporter?– Bree Schaaf tells us that the coach of Korea's Won Yu Jong thinks he has room to improve. Wouldn't that apply to anyone not in first place? He finishes round two in second place. There's STILL room to improve!
- Team skiing, LIVE! What is team skiing? I don't know! It's brand new, so this is the first time i've seen it. It is head-to-head, though, which I like. And it also teams up both men and women. This event is custom-made for countries that have deep ski teams with lots of talent. So, Austria, Germany, Norway, Switzerland… does anyone else really have a chance here? France! I forgot France. They're also in the semifinals, along with Austria, Norway, and Switzerland. Shockingly, Norway does NOT advance to the gold medal round in this sport, instead they battle for bronze. The last skier to go for Norway will be Leif Kristian Nestvold-Haugen. I don't know anything about him, but what a name! Turns out he's pretty good. He wins his race and does so with a fast enough time that Norway picks up another bronze medal. Switzerland wins gold and that's it for alpine events in the Olympics.
- Mikaela Shiffrin fluff! She's in the studio with Mike Tirico talking about her Olympic performances. She's happy with the results and thought the weather-related delays were difficult. She seems nice.
Stay up late and watch the curling! Of course, by the time you read this they'll probably be over. So watch the replays and we'll see you on Saturday/Sunday for the last full day of events!