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Friday, February 11, 2022

Golden years, whop, whop, whop.

It's senior night at the Olympics! Let's see how the old folks do tonight.
  • We start in Los Angeles because that's where Mike Tirico is. He's there for the Super Bowl. Is it just me, or does NBC seem to be doing whatever it can to avoid China?
  • Mike tells us that coming up later tonight, Lindsey Jacobellis will continue her redemption story. Best known for choking in 2006, now she’s won one gold in these games and has a chance to win another tonight. That would be quite a redemption.
  • Let’s start tonight with something different: ski jumping! This is a classic Olympic sport and I’m going to stab it in the back right now. You know what? Ski jumping has gotten boring. It’s too safe. Look at Snowboard Cross. What makes that exciting? Crashes! Downhill skiing? Crashes! Halfpipe? Big Air? Figure skating? Crashes! Crashes! Crashes! When was the last time you saw anyone crash in the ski jump? The last one I can remember is the Agony of Defeat Guy from Wide World of Sports. And look at what was different about his jump. In 1970, the ski jump in-runs were wide slopes of snow. In 2022, all of the ski jumpers slide in grooves that their skis couldn’t possibly fall out of. Every take off is the same. Every flight is the same. Every landing is the same. Want to bring back excitement to ski jumping? Make ski jumping dangerous again.
  • I feel the need, the need for speed! We’re off to short track speed skating for the Men’s 500M heats. I love this sport. It’s so exciting! You know what happens in the first heat we watch? A crash. See?
  • In the second heat, Ryan Pivirotto from Michigan dodges the skater who crashes right in front of him, but he finishes in third place by a skate length. He won’t advance automatically, but will he advance via a good time?
  • Andrea Joyce shows us some short track equipment. They have gloves with carbon fiber tips so they can put their fingertips down and slide smoothly around corners. They have Kevlar-reinforced suits to protect them from sharp skating blades. And the left skate has an offset blade so the skaters can lean even farther over in their turns. Very informative! Do more of this, NBC.
  • All the other races were slow, so Ryan advances. He’ll be back tomorrow!
  • We're off to the HOUSE OF SPEED screams Leigh Diffey. It's run three of the Men's Skeleton. We see one competitor and then NBC decides to teach us about the sport. First they show us a point-of-view video all the way down the run. Very cool! Then Bree Schaff shows us the parts of the skeleton sled and what makes it fit well for each rider. I don’t know who decided to highlight equipment tonight, but I like it!
  • Nathan Crumpton, the shirtless American Somoan from the Opening Ceremonies is competing in skeleton. He makes his run and qualifies for heat four. Andrew Blaser, the only slider from the United States, goes next. He bounces off the wall too many times and fails to qualify.
  • Ice Dancing fluff. Gozer and Tron, sorry, Chock and Bates, will be skating following the Super Bowl on Sunday night. Do you think there will be lots of crossover viewers from football to ice dancing? That would make for an interesting watch party, don't you think?
  • Next up on the track is China's Yan Wengang. He wall-bounces a couple of times but still finishes fast and is currently in first. But there are more racers to come. Germany's Axel Jungk passes him, then Jungk's teammate Christopher Grotheer passes them both. Germany, who had never won a medal in this event, now has the top two tonight.
  • After his skeleton run, Ukrainian Vladyslav Heraskevych held up a sign to the camera that said "No War in Ukraine." Then Mike Tirico details the political happenings regarding Ukraine and Russia. Good for Vladyslav, but remember, China has threatened athletes who say anything negative about China's genocide. Cowardly Nancy Pelosi warned Americans against saying anything. Fortunately, President Biden stood up for Americans affirming Americans have the right to express themselves.
  • We are LIVE on the slopes for the Mixed Team Snowboard Cross, a new sport this year. The men go first, then the women start based on the times of the men. For the US, Nick Baumgartner goes first, then Lindsey Jacobellis will follow. All four men make it down their run, but two of the four women crash and the US advances. In heat two, Americans Jake Vedder and Faye Gulini fail to advance.
  • Earlier tonight, we saw a recording of an emotional Baumgartner, distraught because he thought his Olympics were over after he failed to qualify for the Men's Snowboard Cross finals yesterday. Turns out he was wrong because he's on tonight's Mixed Snowboard Cross team. How do you not know which teams you're on? Whatever. He's here. That's what's important.
  • Mike gives us an update on Russian Crime Syndicate skater Kamila Valiyeva and her banned substance story. She can still compete for now, but it's under appeal. So, not much different than yesterday.
  • Back at the top of the hill, we're ready for the Snowcross semi-final race. Baumgartner does his part and so does Jacobellis. They advance to the final.
  • Analyst Seth Wescott added some interesting trivia about the sport. Today, all the men finish, then the women start based on the men's time. So if Team A's man finishes a second ahead of Team B's man, then the gate for Team A's woman opens a second before the gate for Team B's woman after they clear the track. But Seth said the way it used to work was that the men's snowboards had a transponder on them, and the moment they crossed the finish line the corresponding woman's gate would open immediately. That sounds awesome. They should do it that way next Olympics. Imagine someone who fell getting lapped by the next rider. That would be fantastic.
  • Shaun White fluff! Yesterday was his last run. He's retiring, so now NBC is doing a recap on his career. It's just a bunch of video clips.
  • Back on the hill, I apparently mis-titled the semi-final. It's actually called the "Small Final." My mistake. A semi-final is a game or round immediately preceding the final, the winner of which goes on to the final. By comparison the small final is a game or round immediately preceding the big final, the winner of which goes on to the big final. However could I have made such a massive error?
  • Final time! Baumgartner is ready at the top. Here we go! Nick did his part, finishing first. That will give gold-medal-winning Lindsey a head start over the rest of the field. Wooo! Jacobellis starts slow but makes a late pass to win gold! Best view of the day? The iso cam on Nick cheering for Lindsey coming down the hill. This is a man who wears his emotions on his sleeve. Yesterday he thought his career was gone and he was never going to win any Olympic medal. Today he has a gold. Before this year, Lindsey was best known for blowing her best chance at a gold medal in 2006 and never again getting close. And now she has two golds. What a great story.
  • Back in the Beijing studio, Craig Melvin says this was the biggest surprise of the games. Is it? Jacobellis just won gold the other day. It's no big shock that she won. And Baumgartner is no slouch. They might not have been the favorites, but I wouldn't consider this a huge surprise.
  • It's time for more short track speed skating, the Women's 1000M semi-finals. Maame Biney fails to qualify. Kristen Santos is in semi-final two along with Corinne Stoddard. Santos wins her heat to make the final. In the final, Santos tangles skates with another skater on the last lap and goes down. No medal for her. Suzanne Schulting of the Netherlands wins gold.
  • And we'll end the night with a Hailey Hunter interviewing Nick Baumgartner and Lindsey Jacobellis, the '80s babies representing the United States. Nick gets to Zoom with his family. He's so happy! This is great! You know the only thing that would have made it greater? If the Chinese Communist Party hadn't destroyed the world with a virus they failed to contain and all of these people could have been there to congratulate Nick and Lindsey in person.
  • One minute of Super Bowl fluff. The Rams and Bengals players sing the Olympic song. Some of their singing voices are, well, don't quit your day jobs, guys.

Golds for the olds! A lot less hype tonight than usual, probably because there was no figure skating to promote. But Jacobellis and Baumgartner made it all worth it. See you for more tomorrow!

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