Ladies Figure Skating started this morning. I won't give any results. NBC Sports Network covers all the competitors, rather than just the top ones that's generally the case in primetime. The nice thing about this (and mind you, I don't watch all of them) is that it puts the top skaters in perspective. You see these terrific skaters at the lower level, and it makes you appreciate how especially great the top ones are. All I'll say is that most of the performances and results are as expected -- but there are definitely some surprises. All in all, there's great skating, and it's set up for a terrific long-program final tomorrow.
As always, Tara Lipinski and Johnny Weir did a wonderful job analyzing during the skates, even along with host Terry Gannon who is surprisingly involved and informed for a non-skating host. A couple of performances where everyone was unfortunately silent, but overall very strong. Things like pointed comments that fall on the good sip of being too snippy, such as Weir saying after a mediocre skate, "She had her costume and make-up on, but she was faking it behind her eyes." And insightful observations like Lipinski remarking about one skater "You notice that she dipped down her knee on the landing and doesn't rise right back up.": And this is the sort of smart, informative and interesting comment that Weir would make, mid-performance of one skater that lets viewer have a sense of what's actually going on, other than gliding around the ice -- "She didn't check off her arm strong enough on the landing of that triple flip. She was off balance and only able to do a single toe loop. And this is one of the times when she'd have been smarter to leave the combination off altogether than attack the second combination off-step." This trumps the "Oh, lovely," "Oh, my" and silence you'll likely get from the primetime analysts. If it fits into your schedule, I really recommend recording the finals tomorrow live (which start in the morning, early in L.A.) and watching that way. This announcing team just runs circles around the primetime folks. I wouldn't be shocked to see the NBC Sports Channel people in primetime next Olympics.
All this required a bit of channel juggling, though, because the U.S. men's hockey game against the Czech Republic overlapped much of the skating. But then, that's why God created the remote control and DVR. It was a a tough played game, fairly even-handed, but the U.S. found more openings to take advantage of. The primetime broadcast will likely only show the goals, so I'll say that the U.S. won 5-2 to move to the semi-finals. But what a tough game that will be, against Canada.
And then there was the wonderfully goofy "team sprint" in cross country skiing. It may not be sprinting in the way pedestrians normally think, but a pleasure to watch nonetheless. In fact, the men's 12K race was very exciting at the end, with three teams (Finland, Russia and Germany) neck and neck -- when all of a sudden, the German switched lines, may have been impeded by the Finn, fell and almost took out the Russian, who somehow was able to balance himself and stay on his feet. The judges had to determine if the impediment was illegal, but they held the result, and Finland won. Whew! Excitement on the cross coun
And Mary Carillo had another nice piece, this about the least-known of the three American women's figure skater, 15-year-old Polina Edmunds. It wasn't terribly in-depth, but fun to watch. Particularly because what makes Edmunds story so good is that her coach is her mother, who was a skater from Russia.