On the late night broadcast, Bob Costas had Nancy Kerrigan in the studio. She's a bit uncomfortable talking on camera, but offered some terrific, detailed analysis of the remaining figure skaters.
The Parallel Snowboard Slalom, something I suspect few people watched -- especially since it was on overnight -- had an interesting storyline. In the men's and women's finals was a married couple, Vic Wild and Alena Zavarina. Her career was on the rise, his not and he was losing U.S. funding. They got married and now skate for Russia. She won the Bronze medal. He just won the Gold. So much for his career not on the rise.
You'll be happy to know that Norway's Ole Einar Bjoerndalen, who I wrote about yesterday, won a Gold medal in the team combined mixed relay for the biathlon. That gave him the most medals of any athlete in Olympic history. What's also interesting is that, other than pairs figure skating, this is the only Olympic event I know where men and women compete together.
After all the Olympic Watching I've done, I have now determined the two differences between men and men Olympic athletes, at least in the Winter Games. After a race, women competitors rush up to one another, throw their arms around one another and embrace in warm hugs. Men do not. And women put their fingers together for the cameras and make those little "heart" signs. Men do not -- well, most men. No value judgment is made on this, just an observation. Actually, I love seeing the warm hugs. It's very endearing.
I've been yammering since the start about women's hockey, and I hope people got a chance to watch. NBC broadcast the Gold Medal game live on the main network, and it was just a terrific hockey match. The U.S. was leading 2-0 with only 3 minutes to go. But Canada scored, and then pulled its goalie to get a one-person advantage, and scored the tying goal with only 55 seconds left. (The U.S. almost put the game away, except for the length of a post -- with an empty net, the slid a puck the length of the ice, but it bounced off the post. Ack.) And in overtime, Canada scored to win the game and Gold medal. As you might imagine, the U.S. team was distraught. But a great game.
Today is the free skate finals of the women's figure skating, which NBC Sports Network carried live. I won't give any results, just some comments:
The event was broken into three groups, with the lower-standing skaters going first. I don't think NBC will be showing the first group. If they do, feel free to go to the kitchen and make sandwiches or do some channel hopping. It's pronounced how the quality is prominently lower than those in the last two groups. The main reason for watching is that, as I said yesterday, it puts how wonderful the last skaters are in perspective. Many of the skaters were very young, not much past being "Juniors," and it shows. Even the second group, while extremely good and there are some very good performances, seem to the untrained eye notably behind the top skaters, often a bit slower, a touch less fluid, somewhat less confident in their jumps -- with the exception of Mao Asada, who was a favorite but screwed up in the short program. She gives a very emotional skate here.
Terry Gannon, Tara Lipinski and Johnny Weir remained terrific in their commentary. (Except for not saying much during several of the final skaters.) My favorite exchange came when Gannon noted a skater who hadn't done well was nonetheless all in smiles, and he wondered how that could be. Lipisnki replied, "Terry, all you do is cry. You go to wait, and you cry. You got backstage after, and you cry." Weir chimed in, "It's all theatuh. At the Olympics they give you free McDonalds. So, you drown your sorrows in milkshakes."
(From Sandra Bezik, you get things like last night's, "Oh, she's just like a lovely figurine in a china box." Well, that, or silence.)
I'll just say that the final group of six skaters are wonderful, with several interesting tweaks, and it will be great TV-watching during primetime. And considering that Russia has two wonderful skaters aged 17 and 15, and the U.S. has two wonderful skaters aged 18 and 15 -- not to mention anyone else -- the next Olympics in four years is already shaping up to be a tremendous competition with only those three medal slots open.