We begin Sunday night’s Olympics in the Den of Loneliness where Bob Costas is trapped with only his so very gross, still infected eye to keep him company. “I GO NOWHERE,” The Eye gloats. “I STAY FOREVER WITH BOB COSTAS. I RUSSIAN SOUVENIR.”
Tonight’s events include:
- Alpine Skiing Men’s Downhill
- Women’s Snowboarding Slopestyle
- Team Figure Skating, always Team Figure Skating, Team Figure Skating will NEVER END
- Men’s Ski Jumping
- Mary Carillo’s banishment to a gulag in Siberia
We begin with 30 minutes of Men’s Ski Jumping. Ugh, ski jumping. In theory, ski jumping should be one of the most exciting events of the Winter Olympics. Skiers flinging themselves into the air at speeds up to 54 miles per hour? That sounds super dramatic and terrifying! But in practice it is insufferably boring: just a series of anonymous Daft Punk robots zooming down a ramp bending over and then safely landing — some a little bit farther out than others. It is the “zzzzzzzooooooommmmmmmmm WHEEEEE!” competition, as Bobby once named it, and goodness gracious, it is tedious.
It also isn’t helped by the fact that NBC is paying this event only the most cursory attention, thanks to the fact that this sport is owned by the Central Europeans. Sure, 3 Americans made it to the finals, but none of them made it past the first round, so NBC is only going to go through the most basic of motions here. And so it’s thirty minutes of zzzzzzzooooooommmmmmmmm WHEEEEE! and very little reason to become emotionally invested in any of it. Oh, one of the competitors has the Olympic rings shaved into his hair? Nope, that’s not a reason to care. The guy from Japan isn’t from Central Europe? Still don’t care. This other guy referred to this slope as a “mean girl”? That’s just weird and you’re making it worse, Announcer, by declaring that the jumper “just married the hill.”
I will say that the last five minutes of the coverage ended up being sorta exciting as the final three jumpers wound up becoming the medalists, but I can’t tell if that was just sheer luck or if they were the last three jumpers because they were the best three jumpers? THERE IS NO CONTEXT IS WHAT I’M SAYING.
But what is great is how genuinely happy the final three jumpers are for each other. The final jumper, Kamil Stoch of Poland, lands the biggest jump, and the other two men, Peter Prevc of Slovenia and Anders Bardal of Norway, whom he just knocked out of the Gold and Silver spots respectively, hug him and lift him up on their shoulders. It’s actually a really sweet moment that chokes me up a little AND MIGHT HAVE BEEN EVEN MORE POWERFUL HAD WE KNOWN ANYTHING ABOUT THESE PEOPLE, NBC.
We return to the Den of Loneliness where Bob Costas and The Eye are joined by Mary Carillo for her package on Siberia. Because NBC sent Mary Carillo to SIBERIA. Hahahahahahahahahaha, NOPE! Mary Carillo tries to claim that Siberia is something other than snow, dirt and misery, but her package does nothing to prove that.
9 Things I learn about Siberia from Mary Carillo:
- Siberia is enormous. It is an enormous frozen wasteland filled with snow and dirt.
- Siberia’s native people don’t realize that they can just leave Siberia and live someplace, anyplace else.
- Siberia is filled with precious metals, oil and diamonds, but no one can get to them because the ground is frozen solid.
- Mary Carillo is willing to stand outside in -43° weather because she is a damn fool.
- The “Lord of Frost” lives in an underground cavern filled with ice shaped like things that aren’t ice, and he doesn’t speak English.
- There are some horses in Siberia who don’t know that they can just leave Siberia and live someplace, anyplace else.
- The Siberian horses eat snow because there is nothing else to eat in Siberia.
- Mary Carillo does not get to see one of the famous Siberian prison camps, lest she find the guy responsible for the Opening Ceremony Snowflake disaster.
- There was that one weird NBC show about a reality series in Siberia last summer that starred that idiot Real Housewife of Beverly Hills,
- The people of Siberia act like living someplace where it is -50° makes sense because they don’t have to refrigerate the fish when they sell them on the street. They act like street fish is an actual positive aspect of living in Siberia.
NOPE. Nope! No, thank you. No.
And then we’re back in the Den of Loneliness where Bob Costas and The Eye laugh and laugh at Mary Carillo for going to Siberia. SUCKER.
Onto Team Figure Skating, which we are assured will, finally, end tonight. We’ll see. It’s been two solid nights of twizzles and lutzes, and a part of me fears it’s never really going to end.
So NBC aired the Men’s Free Program before the primetime coverage began, and I managed to catch a little of it while half-asleep on the couch because I was up so late the night before watching Pairs Free Programs for you people. Russia’s Plushenko plushenkoed, and he was great; Japan didn’t put Hanyu back out there, but instead sent some feathered creature in his stead who was not nearly as good; and the American, Jason Brown, performed a program that he did in the U.S. Championships which everyone freaked out about because it was so good, but here on the Olympic stage he fell, so.
This leaves us with Ladies’ Free Program and the Ice Dancing Free Program to get through, even though, as Tracy Wilson explains to us by using charts, the medals are pretty much set. Russia will win Gold, Canada the Silver and USA will take the Bronze, pretty much no matter what anyone does at this point. Math!
Canadian Kaetlyn Osmond is first in a routine about “Cleopatra’s rise to power,” wherein she is supposed to be Cleopatricesque in her ascent within the skating world? Does Kaetlyn know how it all worked out for Cleopatra? Has anyone mentioned the asps? Anyway, she manages to fall in an unexpected spot of the routine, and receives the lowest score of the evening: a 110.73. Not that it matters, because Math!
For Team America, a skater named Gracie Gold takes the ice, and she’s so pretty, you guys. She’s tall and blonde and willowy and elegant, and it translates in her skate, which ends up being flawless. Even my very cynical husband was yelling “BRAVA, LACY!” at the television by the end of her performance. I did not correct him. She scores a 129.38 which we are informed is a personal best.
For whatever reason, NBC decides to show us Japan’s skater, Akiko Suzuki, but not Italy’s skater, Valentina Marchei, even though Marchei outscores Suzuki and even though Suzuki’s performance is totally and completely bland. You can tell me it was “lyrical,” Announcers, but I’m underwhelmed. She scores a meaningless 112.33.
It is announced that Russia will win the Gold at this point, so I guess we can all go home now? Ha ha, no, don’t be silly. We will never go home. Team Figure Skating will never end.
Your new favorite 15-year-old skater, Yulia Lipnitskaia, is the final performer in the Ladies’ Free Program, and she makes the questionable choice to perform to the Schindler’s List soundtrack while wearing a red coat, somehow making an already mawkish scene from a movie about the Holocaust even more bathetic. I’m not saying that the performance isn’t tremendous — she’s an undeniably brilliant skater — I just think we should all agree from here on out that we will not longer be performing The Holocaust on Ice. The judges have no such reservations about the theme, however, and give her an astounding 141.51, Yulia’s personal best score.
The Women’s Snowboard Slopestyle finals are tonight, but we first have to get through the Semifinals to determine which 4 women will compete with the 8 who have already moved on. But I think we can all agree that we do not need to spend as much time on the Semifinals as NBC did because COME ON. THEY’RE THE SEMIFINALS, Y’ALL. THE FINALS ARE, BY DEFINITION, MORE IMPORTANT, NBC.
However, some attention should be paid to plucky 16-year-old American, Ty Walker, who busted her heel during practice, hurting it enough that she had to hobble on crutches during the Opening Ceremonies. And yet! Somehow she is competing instead of sitting in the Athletes’ Village, drinking hot chocolate! (On second thought, snowboarding on a busted heel might be very preferable to sitting in the Sochi Athletes’ Village, drinking “hot chocolate” made from dangerous face water.) The team INJECTED HER HEEL WITH NOVOCAINE so that she could compete, which, NOPE! Nope. I’m trying to think of circumstances in which I would allow someone, anyone to stab my foot with needles, and I gotta say, “to snowboard” is not making that list.
So Ty Walker and her novocaine foot, they go on to score a 66 on her first run and a 43.75 on her second probably because of the part where HER FOOT IS FULL OF NOVOCAINE. (You’re a tough chicken, Ty Walker, and we’re super proud of you back here in the States, final or no final.)
Other notable semifinal performances include Czech Šárka Pančochová who has a lot of squiggly things in her name, and who scores a solid 90.50 on her first run, safely putting her in the finals; and Silje Norendal, the gorgeous Norwegian snowboarder who NBC is desperate to put on camera, scores a miserable 16.75 on her first run, but a 78.75 on her second which is strong enough to land her in the finals to NBC’s great relief.
There’s also Rebecca Torr from New Zealand, who doesn’t make it to the finals on her terrible scores of 27.25 and 32.50, but who we learn is nicknamed, “The Possum.” NBC does not follow up this nugget of cryptic trivia with any other information, leaving us bewildered as to the origins of this terrible, terrible nickname. Does she play dead? Does she carry her young around on her back? Is she a hisser? Is she really, really into George Jones? WHAT IS THE DEAL, NBC? YOU CAN’T LEAVE US HANGING LIKE THAT!
Anyway, Šárka Pančochová, Silje Norendal, are joined by Sina Candrian of Switzerland and Jenny Jones of Great Britain to compete in the finals. So we go to taped footage of American Jamie Anderson playing the bongos, obviously.
Highlight of the Olympics so far.
Onto Men’s Downhill Skiing. All weekend long, if the announcers weren’t yelling “SHAUN WHITE!” at us, they were shrieking “BODE MILLER!” trying to get us all worked up about this particular event. The deal is Bode Miller, who won Gold, Silver and Bronze in Vancouver and Silver in Salt Lake City, is no spring chicken at 36 years old. In fact, in 2012, he had to undergo knee surgery and so he took the entire 2013 season off to heal up for Sochi. At first all the chatter was, “ZOMG WILL BODE MILLER BE ABLE TO SKI?” But then Bode Miller started practicing on what we are assured is a treacherous downhill track, and not only was he able to ski, he was blowing everyone else out of water with his times. So then all the chatter became “ZOMG BODE MILLER IS GOING TO WIN ALL THE PRIZES!!”
Which is how we come into this particular event: everyone expecting Bode Miller to win all the prizes. However, the weather has different ideas about this, and unlike the previous bright and sunny days when Bode Miller practiced, Sunday proved to be overcast, which is enough to throw the entire competition into chaos.
And so, we see a few runs, and, like ski jumping, there’s just not a lot to say here about individual performances. No one wipes out or anything (at least not that we are shown) and it really just comes down to who can make it to the bottom of the run the fastest — the fastest by a matter of hundredths of seconds. It’s a fascinating event to watch, they go so fast! but it’s not particularly illuminating to write or read about, honestly.
What is important for our purposes here is Bode Miller’s story, which is that he goes very fast down the mountain, but in the end, he reaches the bottom in 2 minutes, 6 seconds and 75 hundredths of a second. This, unfortunately for Bode Miller, is 52 hundredths of a second longer than Matthias Mayer of Austria, who wins the event. It is also 46 hundredths of a second longer than Christof Innerhofer of Italy who took Silver, and 42 hundredths of a second longer than Kjetil Jansrud of Norway who wins Bronze. That’s it! Literally half a second between being first and being eighth, which is what place Bode Miller comes in.
So that begs the question: is Downhill Skiing fair? The difference between winning and not winning could be made simply by a cloud passing over the sun at just the wrong moment, or a bit of snow piled up in one spot, or the wind suddenly pushing back on the skier at a particular turn. And since they only get one chance to go down the mountain, the top skiers are all victims of circumstance and the whole thing just kinda bums me out, leaving me feeling a bit like Mrs. Bode Miller:
But you know what doesn’t bum me out? This is the Silver medalist, the Italian, Innerhofer. Pronto!
And back to Women’s Slopestyle for the finals! Yay, finals!
Czech Šárka Pančochová goes first (or, more accurately, NBC shows us her first) and has an outstanding run that earns her an 86.25. The amateur judges in Tubular HQ believes she deserved a higher score.
Miss South Lake Tahoe and bongo-enthusiast, Jamie Anderson, has a disappointing first run wherein she bungles her last landing, and she scores an 80.75.
We skip ahead to Brit Jenny Jones’ second run because, why not, no one wants to watch her first run on which she scored a middling 73. Her second run is far more successful, with some truly amazing jumps, and she scores an 87.25.
Šárka Pančochová’s second run starts off strongly enough, but on the first big jump, Lady goes down hard, like, rolling down the mountain unconscious hard, like, CRACKING OPEN HER DAMN HELMET HARD. YIKES! SO MANY YIKES! THAT’S IT, EVERYONE OFF THE RUN, SLOPESTYLE IS CANCELED. MOMMA CAN’T TAKE THIS.
But Šárka (which is pronounced “Sharka” because that is how much of a badass she is) not only gets up and leaves the run on her own, she finishes the run. And then hopefully is wheeled directly into a CAT scan. Because YIKES. Have I mentioned the YIKES?
Enni Rukajärvi, whom we have spent exactly no time meeting or discussing, has a technically very precise second run. It’s clean, but it’s kinda boring? The judges disagree and think I’m an idiot and reward her with a 92.50.
So the pressure is on our little hippie, Jamie Anderson, on her last run — because a 92.50, that is a high score! That is a very high score! Nevertheless, Jamie Anderson seems completely chill, and proceeds to glide through the run as though she was just out having fun. She is amazing. She is my hero.
And with a score of 95.25, our South Lake Tahoe girl TAKES THE GOLD! And everybody hugs and everyone is happy for everyone else and the whole spirit of the Games or whatever leaves me all verklempt.
U!S!A! U!S!A! U!S!A!
To conclude these four hours of coverage (you’re welcome), we return to close out the Team Figure Skating competition, even though it was already over hours ago. Still, Ice Dance has to happen, and no one is going home until it does.
Team Russia goes first with a performance to Swan Lake which, and I’m not making this up, involves Elena Ilinykh flapping her arms around like a bird. Because she’s the black swan, get it? Wait, I can explain it to you …
SO ANYWAY. The Russians are just fine. To my uneducated eye, they seem a little stiff, the transitions are sometimes awkward and the whole thing just feels less than great. The judges seem to agree, and they score a 103.48. But this is their personal best score, so what do they care that they came in third?
FUN FACT: The Canadian Ice Dancing Team and the American Ice Dancing Team share a coach, who is a Russian. She literally runs around the sidelines during the competition changing in and out of jackets, depending on who is performing at any particular moment. Somehow this feels like it should be violating some rule somewhere.
The Russian coach is rooting for Team Canada who have a gorgeous performance that the announcers insist had a “little bobble at the beginning.” I have literally no idea what they are bobbling about. The Canadians earn a solid 107.56.
But as good as Team Canada is, Team America is that much better. When they came out onto the ice dressed as Aladdin and Jasmine, I was terrified that they were going to be performing to “A Whole New World.” TERRIFIED. But, instead, it’s a more grown-up interpretation of Aladdin, wherein Meryl Davis as a belly dancer or something, seduces Charlie White, the Sultan, with her “stories” i.e., her beautiful flounder face. I don’t know much about dance or ice or ice dancing, but even I can recognize that this performance is outstanding. (And I am genuinely skeptical of any score-fixing nonsense — Davis and White were undeniably better both here and in the Short Program than Virtue and Moir were.) And, in fact, it is an outstanding performance: they earn a 114.34, the highest score ever recorded for an ice dance. U!S!A! U!S!A! U!S!A! I don’t care that we only took the Bronze in this event, this ice dancing score is bigger than a Gold.
And with that, we end the night with a look at the McDonald’s
McNugget Medal Count where we learn that while America at the moment has 2 Gold medals and 4 medals overall (U!S!A! U!S!A! U!S!A!), Norway has 2 Gold medals and 7 medals overall. Aww, snap, you forgot about Norway, didn’t you.
Today I leave you with the hilarious story of MOST EMBARRASSING DAD EVER, the father of an American luger who pimped his son out on the Today Show (although I wouldn’t think Tucker needs any help scoring a date, HELLO, TUCKER!); the Russian speed skater who did an unintentional (so she claims) striptease after her race; it turns out being a fan of Pussy Riot will get you a lot of … attention; a glimpse into the gay community living in Sochi; and this event that I missed because it wasn’t on the primetime broadcast:
*I didn’t learn this from Mary Carillo, actually.
Bobby will be your guide through tonight’s events, which include the Women’s Super Combined (whatever that is), Men’s Freestyle Moguls, and Men’s Speedskating. Удачи, Бобби!
This post originally appeared on the Hearst site Chron.com.