Archive for the ‘Olympics’ Category

Thoughts on Vancouver

March 1, 2010

The flame has been extinguished and the curling rocks and brooms put away, the Games are over.  And so it is time for a few semi-random final thoughts.

1) The closing ceremony had a few nice moments.  I’m not a big enough fan of theater to really get into the pageantry stuff involved in opening or closing ceremonies; I would be the perhaps rare person that cares more about the mechanical stuff like bringing an Olympic flag in or declaring the Games open or inviting the athletes of the world to reconvene in 4 years time, that sort of thing.  But there were a few campy moments of the closing ceremony that I liked.  First of all it was brilliant and fun to begin the closing ceremonies by getting the fourth leg of the Olympic Torch hoisted and lit by Caroline Lemay Doan, who was to light that pillar during the opening ceremony.  Very nice touch.  Also being a classic rock fan I liked the simple soberness of having Neil Young come out to sing Long May You Run and then have the Torch go out during the final few chords.

2) I’m not sure if anyone in Canada noticed but there was a hockey game Sunday afternoon.  Being that I live south of the Great Lakes I was of course rooting for the US team, but I didn’t lose sleep over the overtime loss.  It was still a great tournament for the Americans; I was expecting a lack of a medal beforehand so I’ll take silver.  I thought Parise getting that goal when Canada was 24 seconds from bedlam might leave the red and white on their heels, but they were anything but.  And as a Penguins fan I can relax now.  As the author of Elvis Has Left had pointed out in a post around the start of the Games, Sidney Crosby was set up to be a reviled figure in Canada if the hosts had failed to gold.  And I don’t just mean from Don Cherry, but the media and fans in all of the NHL cities in the great north for the next season or two at least, especially given how unremarkable a tournament he was having.  Losing that game I think would have actually created a potentially debilitating level of extraneous bullshit for Sid the Kid whenever the Pens played a Canadian franchise.  I shudder to think what a playoff series against Montreal or Ottawa could have looked like.  Of course now he might have the opposite problem, needing an entourage armed with machetes to get through the throngs.  But that’s a better problem to have.

3) I suppose there could be some room for debate, but I gotta think the story of the Games is Joannie Roachette winning the bronze medal in figure skating a mere 4 days after the sudden passing of her mother.  I cannot imagine doing anything other than withdrawing from the competition spending days in mourning.  She not only competed but she skated two flawless routines and earned a medal.  No sympathy vote from the judges, no home crowd advantage, she was a medalist straight up.  All I can say is wow!

4) Why isn’t curling on TV in the United States more often than every 4 years?  Lord knows we have enough sports niche channels these days that a few domestic and international events could get some coverage somewhere.  The sport, pardon the obvious and often used pun, rocks.  The rules are simple but the strategy rich and the execution needs to be flawless.  Plus its a game you can play while drinking!  A pity the American skips had such awful fortnights, but its still tremendous fun to watch.

5) I’m not sure who the biggest American story of these Games is.  I’m tempted to say the redemptive performance of Bode Miller, coming back perhaps a bit past his prime to get 3 medals, one of each flavor, after the literal wipeout in Torino.  If you may permit me to be a cad for a moment I will suggest making Lindsey Vonn the face of these Games (if you know what I mean).  She didn’t get as many medals as hoped, but I think her leg injury on the condensed schedule after the early weather problems didn’t help.  Also she was so joyful in winning and gracious in not winning it wasn’t hard to like her.  Where did Julia Mancuso come from?  The most dominate American in his sport is certainly Shaun White; he won with a relatively safe performance and then went balls out in his 2nd run just to show off.  The dude got really big air.  Apolo Ohno got some medals, the Koreans had a disputed DQ, there were some crashes and other craziness.  In other words, a typical short track tournament was held.  He won’t come out and say it but this was his last go around and he seemed to be telling Bob Costas yesterday evening that your network will be hiring me as an analyst in Sochi.  And he’s probably right.  I’m sure Lindsey Jacobellis understands now, if she didn’t 4 years ago, why its important to carpe diem when you can and not piss it away on a dumb stunt.

6) Something could always come out after the fact, especially from someone that medaled one of the later on events, but so far no one has been stripped of a medal for doping.  Maybe Dick Pound wants the reputation of a clean Games in his home country?  Maybe it just hasn’t come out yet?  Or maybe Olympic athletes have finally figured out that the IOC isn’t joking around on this one?

7) My opinion is that NBC is getting better at covering these things.  They have finally rotated things a bit back in the favor of people that watch sporting events to watch sports.  There were very few sappy feature pieces on individual athletes, at least during the primetime coverage.  They did a lot of the marquee stuff live (the exception being Alpine events they taped for prime time).  Of course the North American location and scheduling cooperation for the IOC helped there.  My main gripe, as I voiced early on, was with some of the event analysts telling me the same thing ad nauseum.  I am not an idiot and I was listening 2 minutes ago when you told me how this thing is scored.  I got it.  But since John Tesh was nowhere in sight I guess I shouldn’t complain too much.

8) Of course there was a figure skating controversy.  I don’t think we can have an Olympics figure skating comp without controversy of some kind, whether it be in the judging or a personality conflict.  Considering that it is usually the Russian/European competitor that gets ranked ahead of the North American in these things, and the fact Lysacek skated better, I was fine with this outcome even if Vladimir Putin wasn’t.

9) Except for the mild El Nino west coast winter that VANOC obviously couldn’t control it was a very solid Games.  Not sure if it was gold medal worthy or not, but we’ll go ahead and play the Canadian National Anthem anyhow:

O Canada!
Our home and native land!
True patriot love in all thy sons command.
With glowing hearts we see thee rise,
The True North strong and free!
From far and wide, O Canada,
We stand on guard for thee.
God keep our land glorious and free!
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.

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NBC Getting A Bit Bored

February 22, 2010

I mean, how else do you explain opening your primetime coverage with Bob Costas coming in across Coal Harbor in a seaplane with Al Michaels waiting for him at the dock?  To say nothing of commandeering a commuter plane during evening rush during the Olympics which I assume is increasing traffic flow in the area for the stunt?  Oh well.

In other news, the US should not get too excited, nor the Canadians too disappointed, after last night’s hockey game.  It was a prelim game.  Yes it helps the US to have a bye then playing a non-power in the quarterfinals whereas Canada has to win a game just to play Russian in the quarterfinals so it was helpful for the US to win last night.  But no medals were won or lost.  That will happen in the coming few days.

A Couple Quick Olympic Thoughts

February 19, 2010

Well, both US curling teams got off the schnied today getting wins.  In the case of the men’s team it was accomplished by stealing in the 10th end to beat France in dramatic fashion after the even more dramatic decision to bench the skip John Shuster.  He was curling horribly so it was certainly a defensible decision, but almost certainly heart-rending for the team as a whole.  But he just wasn’t getting the job done and it had to be in his head at this point.  The old 3rd stepped into the 4th spot and did a solid job, with a substitute that is apparently a real up-and-comer taking the 3rd spot.  It was a tight game pulled out by solid curling in the 9th and 10th ends.

Of course, the larger overall controversy is how the men’s figure skating played out last night, with Lycacek getting the gold over Plushenko.  I will be honest all these late Olympic nights on top of fighting the weather I fell sound asleep and missed the whole last rotation of skaters.  I have since seen Lycacek’s skate via the wonders of On Demand.  It was certainly a gold medal worthy performance and the lack of a quad bothers me less than it does Plushenko, Elvis Stojko, and noted figure skating expert Vladimir Putin among others.  To suggest someone that doesn’t try a quad is disqualified from winning is absurd.  Quads earn more points, but there are other ways to earn points and Lycacek mined those veins fully.  I can certainly understand Plushenko being upset, but complaining about it just sounds whiny, especially when you say you would’ve won under the old (ordinals) scoring system.  Perhaps, but that is not the scoring system being used now and he knew that going in.  Lycacek for his part was just interviewed by Bob Costas on NBC and he took a very high road; a smart decision on his part.  He looks gracious and thankful and appreciative and its to his benefit.  He makes a great champion.

Bode Miller won silver today in the Super G.  Seems rather obvious to point out this helps ease some of the disappointment from Torino, but I’ll say it anyway.

The Sorry State of US Curling

February 17, 2010

Still early in the Olympic tournament, but today’s men’s loss to Switzerland was inexcusable.  Two chances to win on the final stone and our skip blew both, in the 10th and extra 11th end with the hammer he lets Switzerland steal for the tie and then for the win.  This after letting Norway steal for the win in the extra end yesterday.  Pathetic.  Especially today’s loss having the hammer in the 10th end leading by one.  Why not simply peal every stone Switzerland puts out there and not even let it get complicated?  Almost pulled it out as the identity of shot rock came down to a measurement but it should never have been that close.  Oh well its still a neat sport to watch but I was hoping for a US medal like 4 years ago and now its very long odds for both genders to get out of pool play.

Olympics Thus Far

February 14, 2010

A good start for Team USA, getting two medals at women’s moguls and men’s 1500m short track speedskating plus a first ever medal at Nordic Combined.  That short track race is probably the moment of the Games thus far, as the South Koreans were poised to sweep the medals when the dude in 3rd elected to try and pass the dude in 2nd on the last turn, causing the two to wreck and allowing Ohno and Celik to claim silver and bronze.  As crazed about the sport as the South Koreans are I almost wonder if that dude will be let back in the country.  Hopefully they don’t treat him like the Colombian that committed an own goal during the ’94 World Cup.

Armin Zoeggeler got a luge medal in a 5th consecutive Games . . . barely.  He was darned lucky to hold onto bronze by a slim even by luge standards.  More importantly the modifications to the course, using the lower start point, seems to have allowed the field to compete without serious injuries.

I would like to request NBC announcers would please stop repeating themselves!  You don’t have to tell me every 3rd ****ing sledder that they are using the women’s start, cutting the length of almost two football fields off the course, the equivalent of a 3 story building in elevation.  Once or twice a run is sufficient.  You don’t have to tell me what the slushy snow means every 3rd mogulist that comes down the hill.  You don’t have to tell me that its slow speed skating ice because they are at sea level every pair.  I’m not an idiot and I heard you the first time.  Thank you.

Vancouver Olympics Prologue

February 13, 2010

First of all even before the actual competitions or ceremony could begin a horrible tragedy at the Whistler sliding center as a luger from the former Soviet Republic of Georgia was killed during a practice run when his sled hit a wall and he was ejected from the course, hitting a metal support beam above the track.  I have read in articles leading up to the Games that this course could be particularly dangerous, with competitors referring to Turn 13 as “50/50” as in those being the odds of getting through there still progressing towards home.  In the wake of today’s tragedy my friend Nick at his blog http://illdothedriving.com has suggested closing the course and moving luge, bobsled, and skeleton competitions to another facility, perhaps Calgary.  They’ll never go that far.  Hopefully someone thinks to throw some pads around exposed beams around the track.  But those competitions could end up being less about thousandths of a second like it normally is at the Olympic level and more about which handful of competitors is able to complete their runs without wrecking at full speed.

As for the Opening Ceremonies I thought they were fine.  I perhaps get bored more quickly than some with the theatrical productions aspect of these things and I was personally hoping for some Gordon Lightfoot music somehere, but it was okay.  The head of Vanoc needed to cut his speech to about 20% of its actual length.  I was almost getting bored enough to grab my snow shovel and do some more work clearing the parking spot at the end of the block despite it being 11:30pm and me awake for 18 hours at that point.  I like the torch lighting, even if it didn’t exactly come off as planned.  Speaking personally I was hoping they would get Mario Lemieux involved; I hope he doesn’t feel too left out with Wayne Gretzky obviously a principle torch lighter and Bobby Orr one of those carrying the Olympic flag into the stadium.  One could argue he was bigger in his sport than Steve Nash.  But its a small detail.  Can someone tell me what the Germans were thinking with their team uniform colors?  I almost ralphed into a bucket.  Thankfully the United States was more tasteful.  My friend Nick doesn’t like the hats but I’m fine with them.

In any event, let the Games begin!

Vancouver Olympics Announcer Pairings

February 9, 2010

Here is the list of people that will perform various broadcast duties for NBC and its affiliate channels (thanks to my friend Kevin for e-mailing the link):

SPORT-BY-SPORT ROSTER:

ALPINE SKIING:
Play-by-Play: Tim Ryan
Analysts: Todd Brooker and Christin Cooper
Reporter: Steve Porino

BIATHLON/CROSS COUNTRY:
Play-by-Play: Al Trautwig
Analyst: Chad Salmela

BOBSLED:
Play-by-Play: Bob Papa
Analyst: John Morgan
Reporter: Lewis Johnson

CURLING:
Host: Fred Roggin
Play-by-Play: Andrew Catalon
Analysts: Don Duguid and Colleen Jones
Reporter: Elfi Schlegel

FIGURE SKATING:
Play-by-Play: Tom Hammond
Analysts: Scott Hamilton, Sandra Bezic and Tracy Wilson
Reporter: Andrea Joyce

FREESTYLE SKIING:
Play-by-Play: Todd Harris
Analyst: Jonny Moseley
Reporter: Tina Dixon

MEN’S HOCKEY:
Host: Bill Patrick
Play-by-Play: Mike Emrick and Kenny Albert
Game Analysts: Ed Olczyk and Joe Micheletti
Studio Analysts: Mike Milbury and Jeremy Roenick
Reporters: Pierre McGuire, Joe Micheletti and Mike Milbury

WOMEN’S HOCKEY:
Host: Bill Patrick
Play-by-Play: Mike Emrick and Kenny Albert
Game Analysts: AJ Mleczko
Studio Analysts: Cammi Granato
Reporter: Joe Micheletti

LUGE:
Play-by-play: Bob Papa
Analyst: Duncan Kennedy
Reporter: Lewis Johnson

SHORT TRACK:
Play-by-Play: Ted Robinson
Analyst: Andy Gabel
Reporter: Andrea Joyce

SKELETON:
Play-by-Play: Bob Papa
Analyst: Lea Ann Parsley
Reporter: Lewis Johnson

SKI JUMPING:
Play-by-Play: Matt Vasgersian
Analyst: Jeff Hastings

SNOWBOARDING:
Play-by-Play: Pat Parnell
Analyst: Todd Richards
Reporter: Tina Dixon

SPEED SKATING:
Play-by-Play: Dan Hicks
Analyst: Dan Jansen
Reporter: Andrea Kremer

SPORTS DESK REPORTERS:
Peter Alexander
Alex Flanagan
Lester Holt
Jimmy Roberts
Dwight Stones

UNIVERSAL SPORTS:
Vancouver Olympic News Center Hosts: Terry Gannon and Lindsay Soto
Vancouver Figure Skating Hour Host: Terry Gannon
Figure Skating Analysts: Kristi Yamaguchi, Paul Wylie, and Peter Carruthers
Meet the Olympic Press Host: Jimmy Roberts
Meet the Olympic Press Panelists: Alan Abrahamson – NBCOlympics.com, Brian Cazeneuve – Sports Illustrated, Helene Elliott – Los Angeles Times, Tracee Hamilton – Washington Post, Phil Hersh – Chicago Tribune, Vicki Michaelis – USA Today, John Powers – Boston Globe, Amy Shipley – Washington Post
Skiing Analysts: Picabo Street and Jeremy Bloom
Snowboarding Analyst: Kenan Harkin
Nordic Sport Analyst: Tom Steitz
Reporters: Stacey Dales and Summer Sanders
Universal Sports Host (Westlake Village, Calif.): Craig Hummer

For a more complete breakdown: http://www.ohiomm.com/blogs/heldenfiles/2010/02/nbc-releases-olympics-announcer-list/#more-8223

Daily NBC Vancouver Schedule

January 15, 2010

The below Awful Announcing posting has the outline for the daily broadcast schedule for the Winter Olympics across the NBC platform:

http://awfulannouncing.blogspot.com/2010/01/your-first-look-at-nbcs-winter-olympics.html

I will endeavour to provide more detailed updates on announcer assignments and specific broadcast schedules, particularly when NBC plans live coverage, as Awful Announcing, the United States Olympic Committee, and other avenues make it easy for me to do so with minimal spade work.

Winter Olympics Schedule

January 14, 2010

The Opening Ceremonies are now a scant 29 days away; 4 weeks until the eyes of the world focus on Vancouver, British Columbia.  Below is a link to a schedule of events.  Obviously some of this is time approximate, and some of the outdoor events can get postponed if the weather is bad, particularly some of the alpine skiing.  I didn’t see if it was specified but I assume these times are all PST:

http://www.vancouver2010.com/olympic-schedule-results/

Enjoy!

Wrong on So Many Levels

November 11, 2009

And yet it makes a ton of sense too:

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/11/sports/hockey/11blades.html?th&emc=th

Unfortunately I don’t get the CBC on my cable system this far south of the border. Mostly I regret that during the early rounds of the Stanley Cup Playoffs or when I could go for some curling. But this sounds like it would be a blast to see!