Thursday, February 17, 2022
Most. Dramatic. Skating. Ever!
Or was it? NBC does tend to overhype things. But it's what I said about it that REALLY made it dramatic.
- Welcome back, says Mike Tirico! Today's biggest stories: a cheating Russian figure skater and a communist traitor skier. Not exactly a feel-good lead, is it?
- To the speed skating track we go, for the Women's 1000M race. Kimi Goetz of the US skates first against the Netherland's Jutta Leerdam. Leerdam and her speed skating boyfriend Koen Verweij apparently share a hairstylist. Leerdam is in second place.
- Also from the Netherlands, Ireen Wuest, who seemingly wins everything she tries. Will she win this? Nope. She's currently third, with an unknown number of skaters to come.
- Brittany Bowe's mom is her biggest fan. Well, duh. Who else would be? She wears homemade gloves with little poofy-balls on the fingertips to simulate… what, exactly? They sort of look like the gloves that short track speed skaters wear, but Brittany is a long-track skater. Does Brittany's biggest fan not know what event she races in?
- Brittany is up! She's racing against a Russian Crime Syndicate skater. Bowe gets bronze! Not bad for an ice skater from Florida.
- Would you like to talk some more about Kamila Valiyeva's drug test? No? Too bad! There is no escape!
- Let's go figure skating! It's time for the Women's Free Skate and Karen Chen of the US is up first in tonight's coverage. Her short program was disappointing, so hopefully she can make up some ground tonight. Unfortunately, she has one big fall and a couple of missteps, so her Olympics will end here.
- The next American is Mariah Bell. She's very graceful. She might not be as athletic as some of the other skaters, but it's nice to watch a program that isn't just all jumps. Her score puts her into first place, but there are still a lot of skaters to come.
- Korea's Kim Ye-Lim skates to "Nessun Dorma," because it's a requirement at every Winter Olympics that someone does.
- Back in the studio, Mike is teasing us. Tonight's skating program, he says, will be the most dramatic we've ever seen. I'll bite. Is someone going to kneecap Kamila? It's going to be pretty hard to top Harding-Kerrigan for drama, Mike. This better be good.
- The last American skating tonight is Alysa Liu. She's not as graceful as Bell, but she has the jumps and nailed them. And she's just 16, so she could be something special in four years. Liu moves temporarily into first place, and is still there as the last group of six skaters takes the ice.
- A few minutes of fluff as a grumpy Tara Lipinski and Johnny Weir express their displeasure not so much with 15-year-old Valiyeva as with the adults who are supposed to be taking care of her. They also give a rundown of the other skaters performing tonight. They clearly have no idea of the drama to come!
- South Korea's You Young takes the ice first. She's very good. But there was nothing unusual here. Only five skaters left to produce the drama!
- Wakaba Higuchi of Japan is next skating to music from "The Lion King." Oooo… there could be some drama there. Maybe Scar is going to throw her to the hyenas in the middle of her program. She does a bunch of spins to "Circle of Life." Can you feel the love tonight? The judges do. She moves into first place. She just can't wait to be queen! Still no drama though.
- Aleksandra Trusova of the Russian Crime Syndicate goes next. She has five quad jumps planned. She hits three of them. She's the anti-Bell, all jumps and no artistry. But man, that technical score is impressive. I’m still waiting for the drama, Mike!
- Japan's Kaori Sakamoto is next. She's a lot more artistic than Trusova and every move she performs is clean, but I'm not sure if artistry can get her more points than the raw jumping power of Trusova. Nope. She's in second. And STILL there's no drama. What's it going to be?
- More from the Russian Crime Syndicate. Anna Shcherbakova is really good. She doesn't do all the jumps of Trusova but she's a much better all-around skater. But will the judges agree with me? Yes! Score one for Team Rockwood!
- There still hasn't been any drama and we're on the last skater, the condemned Kamila Valiyeva. Tara and Johnny are more willing to talk about her tonight. But she's off her game. She's stumbled on three jumps in a row. And now a fourth. And a fifth. I don't know if just missing some jumps counts as drama. It's just a bad performance. I guess there's still time for Jeff Gillooly to show up with a baton in the Kiss and Cry room.
Kamila is clearly not happy with her performance, but she does get applause from the sparse crowd. Johnny doesn't think her score is going to be good enough to even have to worry about a medal. It's not. She finishes fourth. Weir says, "Thank God." Valiyeva breaks down crying. She leaves Kiss and Cry and NBC's cameras follow her into the staging area. There's a lot of emotion back there, but I don't know if this is the most dramatic thing ever. Valiyeva's Russian teammates clearly feel sorry for her, but it’s not like she was judged unfairly, she just skated poorly, probably due to the pressure. Sakamoto, the bronze medalist, is crying, but she's also smiling. She got a medal, they're happy tears! Trusova is saying she won't go the podium. Why not? Because Kamila fell down a lot? Honestly, I think a lot of this so-called drama is just being unable to figure out people’s emotions without being able to see their faces. Everyone is wearing a mask, so you can’t tell if they’re happy, sad, angry, or indifferent. I was really hoping for more conflict, Mike. I’m disappointed in the drama level.
- The skaters don't get medals at the arena, they only get flowers. The medal ceremony will be tomorrow at another location. But all the winners seem pretty happy. This counts as the most dramatic skating event ever? Andrea Joyce asks gold medal winner Anna Shcherbakova if her emotions are mixed because of Valiyeva. No, she says, I'm happy. Mike says later that emotions were running deep. Did anyone at NBC even listen to what the athletes were saying? The only drama here is the drama that NBC is creating.
- Speaking of creating drama, NBC is ready to add some hype to skiing traitor Eileen Gu at the Women's Halfpipe. After two runs, her lead is so big that the only way she could get beat is if she told a Chinese official that Peng Shuai should be allowed to speak freely.
- Gu finds out at the top of her last run that she's already won gold. She's overcome with emotion and starts crying, just like the Uyghur slaves will do when the Chinese government murders their families.
- Mike closes the night with some fluff about the figure skating drama. He spends three minutes criticizing Russia's actions over performance enhancing drugs. This speech would carry a lot more weight if NBC hadn't just spent the last 45 minutes gushing over a woman who betrayed her home country to compete for dictators that promote genocide.
So what did you think? Most dramatic skating ever or most overhyped emotion ever? You could make an argument either way. And I'm sure we'll hear more about it from NBC tomorrow. See you then!
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