This stuff has been addictive, as usual. And, perhaps less mind-blowing, because Winter Olympics isn’t nearly as activity-filled as Summer Olympics.
But, really, who would have expected Bob Costas being away from the desk this long? Meredith Vieira covered the desk on Friday and Saturday, giving Matt Lauer a break and reportedly becoming the 1st woman to do the prime-time slot for NBC. (Mary Carillo, I believe, had hosted the late night coverage in the Olympics for NBC; they didn’t want to ask her to do prime time?).
Lauer was on Sunday night; the journey of Costas’ eyes became a bit of Internet fodder. Fortunately, Costas will be back Monday night – finally!
I liked how this item from WBUR (Boston’s NPR) explained the difference between “Ladies’ Olympic sport” versus “Women Olympic Sport.” (which I found via NPR.org, I believe) Really fascinating, how it turns out to be based on which international governing body governs which sport, and how the particular governing body wasn’t going to go change the name of the older sports to be “Women [whatever].” Oh well.
“I had the whole country behind me…but I come away with nothing to show them and give back to them to say ‘thank you for following me and believing in me.’”—Shani Davis on his performance during the Sochi Olympics. Well, I still say “thank you” for your career, Shani Davis, even if I am disappointed. I just felt bad for the entire Team USA speedskaters. That look on Shani Davis’ face is just so sad, and who knows if he can be back in 4 years? Who knows if it was really the speed suit factor or sports psychology? (ex., the saga of Dan Jansen‘s Olympic speedskating was always one of those “Olympics does things to an athlete’s brain” to me – external tragedies and then internal pressure are just combustible).
Also – the Dutch are just doing ridiculously well in speedskating this time.
I thought it was just me, but apparently skeleton actually is less dangerous than luge, to the extent that luge is faster. According to the Slate article I linked there, by Justin Peters, there is some issue of physics (i.e., the skeleton, as head first, loses speed due to the helmet of the athlete) and engineering (i.e., those luges are no joke as equipment).
People got really excited that US beat Russia in Men’s hockey on Saturday (see here and here). I watched on Saturday night the highlights and the rebroadcast of the overtime and shootout. Not that I think that it reached “Miracle on Ice” level from 1980 (this wasn’t a medal contention game, after all, as thankfully even NPR remembered). That the Russians’ goal got invalidated during the 3rd period was understandably frustrating, but then neither team was winning during overtime, and then to take it to the shootout – well, that was just arresting television. T.J. Oshie’s winning shots made people happy. I mean, people were in bars at 7am to 10am (EST) to watch this game.
Then, Sunday, Team USA won with Phil Kessel’s hat trick. The Canadians are still in it, too. (they are trying to win gold again, after all). It’s like the NHL All-Star game with the excitement, only for a longer time period.
Jamaica’s two-man bobsled team didn’t do very well at all, but the point is that they tried.
Watching the Men’s individual Figure Skating was pretty brutal. Sure, I saw the headlines and only caught the prime time edition on tv, but watching Jeremy Abbott fall early during his short program was still brutal. But, the crowd gave support to get him up and go finish his program – that was Abbott courage right there, and an Olympic spirit: when you fall, you still get up, don’t give up, and finish anyway.
The pressure was intense during the long program on Friday. I liked that Abbott redeemed himself (even though he really wasn’t in medal contention). Yuzuru Hanyu of Japan won gold (trivia: he was coached by Canada’s Brian Orser and he was of Sendai - the city affected by the earthquake and tsunami in Japan in 2011). Patrick Chan of Canada won silver. Denis Ten of Kazhakstan won bronze (trivia: according to NBC, Ten is of the Korean ethnic minority of Kazhakstan). Sure, this made Yuzuru Hanyu the first Japanese man to win gold ice skating, and probably made Denis Ten the first person from Kazhakstan to win an Olympic medal in figure skating (and Chan yet another Canadian man to win Olympic silver) – but I thought it was interesting that the podium had an all-ethnic Asian podium there.
And, thereafter, Chan is still dealing with the pressure of not getting gold for Canada (and nice of Orser to be pretty compassionate about it, since he had been in that position, notwithstanding that he was coaching the winning opponent). Probably a good idea not to be too hasty about retiring while still processing what happened.
I finally got to watch some live Olympics, watching ice dancing’s short program live during the daytime today. Comprehensive and fun (if only because I wasn’t watching everyone fall down over their quads or axles etc.). Canadian ice dancers Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir skated so beautifully, practically in their top form again, but Americans Meryl Davis and Charlie White were amazing; the long program on Monday will be a competitive one. Tara Lipinski and Johnny Weir are the it-commentators of ice skating, and they kept things nice and entertaining (I work during the day, so I couldn’t catch them for any live broadcast).
On the other hand: Scott Hamilton’s enthusiasm is kind of hard to replace (this gag showed how his commentary can work just about anywhere).
Also, the ice dancing short program was a fun opportunity to watch Maia and Alex Shibutani, a.k.a., “the Shib sibs” (per Deadspin), the second of three American ice dancer teams at the Olympics (h/t Angry Asian Man blog). I thought that it was nice to see them, since Alex, at the least, was previously seen on tv being a cheerleader during the team event with Team USA (as seen in the photo/screencap via Deadspin).
I don’t get curling, but it’s kind of mesmerizing to watch.
Also, how come I haven’t discovered Deadspin before? Their Olympic coverage is freaking hilarious, particularly the running gag about the mascot, deemed by Deadspin “The Nightmare Bear” (LOL).
More Olympics to watch, while we can do it…