Oh, Matt Lauer, you crafty minx. It was you all along, wasn’t it? You were jealous of Bob Costas and his status as Mr. NBC Olympics and all the time he got to spend in the Den of Loneliness with Mary Carillo, and you decided to Black Swan him. You’re the one who put dangerous face water in a Visine bottle and offered it to Bob Costas to help him with the dry wintery air, weren’t you? “Be sure to use it in both eyes, Bob!” I bet you said. And then you just sat back and waited, confident that when the time came, when the gross, gooey, oh my God, why are they keeping him on the air, I am going to lose my dinner moment arrived, it would be you, Mr. Today Show, that NBC would come to and hand the Olympic torch, as it were.
You and your beard are evil geniuses, Matt Lauer. EVIL. GENIUSES.
So. Tonight’s events include:
- Shaun White’s attempt to win a third gold medal in Snowboarding Halfpipe
- Figure Skating Pairs Short Program
- Women’s Singles Luge
- Something called Ladies’ Slopestyle Skiing
- Mary Carillo pointing out that ice skating is kinda like ballet
You remember the Ladies’ Snowboarding Slopestyle competition, with the rails and the jumps and the ZOMG DID SHE JUST LAND ON HER HEAD, IS HER HELMET FOR REAL SHATTEREDs? Yeah, well, some fools on skis apparently think that they should also rail on those same rails and jump on those same jumps, and for the first time ever they are doing so in the Olympics. I don’t snowboard, so watching the snowboarders go through this course over the weekend was cool. “Hey, that’s pretty cool,” I said while these children flung themselves over crazy jumps and slid over icy rails. But I do ski (poorly) which is why I suddenly found myself shrieking in horror when these lady skiers traversed the very same course that didn’t bother me some 48 hours previous. “WHAT ARE YOU DOING?” I yelled, “YOU CAN’T GO OVER A JUMP BACKWARDS! HAVE YOU LOST YOUR MIND?”
Fortunately for my blood pressure, NBC spends less time on Slopestyle Skiing than we ever did on Slopestyle Snowboarding, bypassing the qualifying rounds altogether. We are shown Americans Kerri Herman’s and Julia Krass’ runs because U!S!A! U!S!A! U!S!A!, not because they are particularly good on either of their 2 attempts down the slopes. Neither skier scores higher than 50.00 is how not particularly good they are.
We also meet Anna Segal from Australia, who we learn started as a cross-country skier before becoming a moguls skier before settling on slopestyle because she has commitment issues. Segal goes over the jumps from different directions, which Jonny Moseley helpfully explains is something that the judges like. Considering how many of these women are not sticking their landings, I’m inclined to think the judges should just be happy if someone makes it through the sloppy, slushy course without crashing.
Devin Logan is America’s last hope in this event and has a great run that is almost entirely done backwards. Let me say that again: She skis BACKWARDS, she takes the rails BACKWARDS, she goes over jumps BACKWARDS, she lands BACKWARDS. Madness. Madness! Devin Logan scores a solid 85.40 for her Kriss Kross routine.
But she’s not as good as the 19-year old Canadian, Dara Howell, who also does everything backwards, including something called a “switch 900” and a “something something rodeo” both of which involve her grabbing her skis, which is certainly not something you should do while you are skiing. That just seems ill-advised. She scores a 94.20 which is good enough for the Gold.
Another Canadian, Kim Lamarre, wins the Bronze with a 85.00 after starting her run with a “720” rail jump which apparently is very difficult to pull off. I wouldn’t know, I prefer to ski on snow, personally. Also, fun fact: Kim Lamarre’s grandmother competed in skiing the 1956 Olympics.
HOORAY, MORE MARY CARILLO! Tonight Mary Carillo is here to helpfully point out: “Hey, have you ever noticed that figure skating kinda looks like dancing? Ballet dancing, in particular?” WHY NO, MARY CARILLO, THAT HAS NEVER OCCURRED TO ANYONE, EVER. WHY DON’T YOU SPEND 10 MINUTES EXPLAINING IT TO US.
9 things I learned about ballet and ice skating from Mary Carillo:
- The Russians really like ballet. Like, they’re super into it.
- Tamara Moskvina, the Russian pairs figure skating coach, “has coached at least one pair to an Olympic medal in six consecutive Winter Olympics from 1984 to 2002. She twice coached the gold and silver medal-winning pairs, in 1992 and 1998,” and she is a little ball of PLEASE DON’T TO MESS WITH.
- Don’t join the Bolshoi ballet if you aren’t really talented or it will “ruin your life.” Of course, you wouldn’t be admitted to the Bolshoi unless you were really talented, so this seems like a pointless piece of advice.
- Ballet was invented in Italy.
- The Mariinsky Theater in St. Petersburg was the largest stage in the world when it was built.
- Both The Nutcracker and Sleeping Beauty debuted at the Mariinsky.
- There’s only one American dancing in the Mariinsky ballet company and she thinks the Russians are really intense.
- Tamara Moskvina is pretty sure Mary Carillo is a blithering idiot.
- Mary Carillo can’t skate.
Mary Carillo, everybody!
Speaking of figure skating, tonight is the Pairs Short Program, which, yay! Figure skating! I am excited for more figure skating! Or, I was excited for more figure skating until American pair, Castelli and Shnapir, come out onto the ice and begin performing the same routine to the same Santana medley that they performed in the Team competition.
They score a 67.44 which is better than the 64.25 they scored the last time they performed this, 3 nights ago, so I guess they did better this time around, I wouldn’t know, I stopped paying attention at “Santana.”
The other American team, Felicia Zhang and Nathan Bartholomay perform to “Carousel Waltz” by Rodgers and Hammerstein and they’re fine to my uneducated eye. They don’t fall or anything, but they are also not nearly as graceful as some of the other performances we’ve seen, and the announcers assure us that Felicia lands funny on her toe a few times, which is one of those things we’re just going to have to take Scott Hamilton’s word for, I’m afraid. They score a bottom of the pile 56.90.
The Canadians, Eric Radford and Meagan Duhamel, perform the same routine they performed last time, the one to the song that he composed himself. They score a 72.21 which is less than the 73.10 they scored in Teams, and they still don’t give them extra points for having written their own music, which I still think is nonsense.
So in the Team Competition, Germany sent out Maylin Wende and Daniel Wende to compete. And I have no idea if they were any good or not — they came in 6th out of 10, so I am guessing they were medium — and NBC chose not to show their performance. This, it appears, was a Bad Decision on Germany’s part, because they could have sent Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy out to do this hilariously campy, tacky and yet technically very difficult routine to “The Pink Panther,” in which Savchenko wears a hot pink unitard because of course she wears a hot pink unitard, what else would she wear, duh. The judges are as amused as I am and give them a 79.64. And let this be a message to you, Figure Skaters the World Over: MORE PINK PANTHER HOT PINK UNITARDS, LESS RODGERS AND HAMMERSTEIN.
The Russians, Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov come out and perform their slutty Cinderella piece again, and it’s perfect. Again. It’s so perfect, in fact, that they score a 84.17 which is the highest score ever recorded by any pair in a short program EVAR.
But we finish the night with the Chinese pair, Pang Qing and Tong Jian, who we are told are participating in their fourth and final Olympics. It seems they are both 34 years old, basically ancient in athlete years, and after they retire, they are finally getting married, having been engaged since 2011. This is very sweet! And though they only score a 73.30 to end in 4th place, the whole thing is very emotional and romantic and yay Qing and Jong! And best wishes on your marriage! Mazel, you crazy
And now to the highlight of NBC’s night, if not their entire Winter Games:
Snowboarding Halfpipe SHAUN WHITE!!!!!!! Because there aren’t really any other American athletes with household names in these Games but for Shaun White, NBC has been peeing their pants for weeks over this event. I’m just surprised NBC didn’t beg Putin to schedule the Halfpipe later in the Games so that they could have made even more video packages about Shaun White and his journey. We didn’t even explore his haircut, for instance.
So, the Sochi Halfpipe. Don’t know if you’ve heard, but Sochi is warm. Like, really warm. Like getting into the high 40s warm. This led to slushy conditions during yesterday’s Halfpipe, and slushy conditions are crummy conditions for snowboarders. The slush slows them way down. And to make the kinds of jumps they jump, much less just to make it all the way down the length of the halfpipe itself, the snowboarders need speed. So Putin had a bunch of maintenance workers blast water and salt all over the halfpipe, which actually seems like the very worst possible solution; that all that water and salt would, you know, melt what little snow is left on the halfpipe. Isn’t that how that works?
So on this wet, salted halfpipe, the snowboarders compete in the qualifiers, where, like slopestyle, they have 2 runs to put up their best score. Americans Danny Davis and Greg Bretz move on to the finals, despite disagreeable conditions. Also moving on to the finals is NBC’s hero, Shaun White, who scores an astounding 95.75 on his first run. (This, incidentally, will be the highest score anyone achieves during the entire competition.) All of the things have been said that could be said about Shaun White at this point, I’m not sure what I can add other than to confirm, again, that he is really, really good, and he is really, really intense, and that he should win all the prizes. (But also that the other snowboarders, they don’t like Shaun White very much. See: “really, really good, and really, really intense.”)
Our backstory package is not, for once, on Shaun White, but instead another snowboarder from Switzerland via Russia named Iouri Podladchikov or, as the kidz call him, “I-Pod.” I-Pod’s parents are both science sooper-geniuses, and their one condition to his becoming a professional snowboarder was that he had to maintain a “B” average in math. Other things to know about I-Pod: he invented a jump that even Shaun White is impressed by, called the “YOLO.”
I-Pod scores an 82 in qualifiers which moves him into the finals, which we are going to just go ahead and skip ahead to because YOLO.
In the finals, America’s other snowboarding hope, Danny Davis, suffers two painful runs that are both ended anticlimactically in the slush towards the bottom of the pipe. He never scores higher than a 53. Still, this is twice as good as Greg Bretz’s best of 26.50, which NBC spares us from seeing.
Japan has a great showing with Taku Hiraoka who scores a solid 92.25. But he’s not as amazing as his 15-year-old, 120 pound teammate, Ayumu Hirano, whose lesser score is a 90.75 and whose best involves so many amazing jumps. So many! He’s a little tiny baby snowboarding genius! He earns a 93.50. (Related: I do not have the constitution to be a halfpipe snowboarder’s mother. “STOP THAT! YOU’RE GOING TO BREAK YOUR HEAD! DID YOU SEE WHAT HAPPENED TO SARKA? DO YOU WANT THAT TO BE YOU?” — what I’d be yelling from the Olympic stands at my imaginary Olympian child.)
So it comes down to our B-averaging MP3 player, and Shaun White. I-Pod’s first run is clean and solid and he scores an 86.50. On his first run, Shaun White has two big, solid falls, and scores a lousy 35.00, which alarmingly drops him into next to last place. OH NOES! cries NBC. WHAT IF SHAUN WHITE LOSES?
On his second run, I-Pod busts out the YOLO, because, you know, it’s the Olympics: YOLO, bro!
And he nails it. He scores a 94.75.
Apologies for any seizures induced by the GIF above.
Shaun White goes last, where he has a solid, but not perfect run. Coming off the pipe, he tries to act as though it was AWESOME, wooing and carrying on, but he fools no one, and scores a 90.25, bumping our One Great American Hope to fourth place behind I-Pod and the Japanese kids.
Shaun White is a gracious loser, complaining about the conditions on the halfpipe, but noting that everyone faced the same slush, so. For I-Pod’s part, he kindly says that he wishes that Shaun White had done better, and that it was painful to see his idol make mistakes. I-Pod then begins yammering about being Russian and how amazing this is and something unintelligible about his uncle, so it’s time to cut him off. KBYE, I-POD. CONGRATS ON THE GOLD, BRO.
Back in the Den of Loneliness, Matt Lauer chats with Drunk Cris Collinsworth about Shaun White’s disappointing performance. Something about White overthinking things and how he’s like Peyton Manning in the Super Bowl and how he probably won’t compete in the next Olympics no matter what Matt Lauer thinks and how after the competition, Cris Collinsworth held Shaun White in his arms, just held him there, and assured him that everything would be alright.
GO HOME, CRIS COLLINSWORTH, YOU ARE MOST DEFINITELY DRUNK.
Finally, Women’s Single Luge. NBC crams this competition in the last thirty minutes of the broadcast, which means we are given exactly no context or information. Instead, we are given a montage of American luger, Kate Hansen, dancing around Athlete’s Village.
We only see the third and fourth runs of only a handful of lugers, and since I don’t really know what I’m looking at or what I should be watching for, my mind begins to drift, and I wonder what if I’ve missed my calling in life, and I could have been an Olympic luger. I’m not saying that I want to be a luger: it looks utterly terrifying to be on a tiny little sled, flung around a narrow track at 85 miles per hour. I’m just wondering if, had I been born someplace less sweaty, someplace with a few more ice sports, what other turns my life would have taken. Maybe I would have tried luging, and maybe I would have been really good at it, and maybe I would have loved it so much I would have decided to devote my life to it and maybe I would have gone all the way to the Olympics instead of sitting on my couch in my blogging pants drinking Diet Coke and daydreaming about pointless hypotheticals.
Anyway, two German women take Gold and Silver, and an American lady named Erin Hamlin comes in third. She is the first American to win a medal in this event, and she did it for her Nana, who died in a head-on car collision back in December. NANA IS PROUD OF YOU, ERIN HAMLIN. WE ALL ARE.
Then Matt Lauer is checking the McDonald’s Medal board and it looks like while America has 7 McNuggets, Norway has 11. NORWAY!
In wrapping up a few links for you: Conan reveals the horror behind Bob Costas’ gross eyeballs:
Here is an interesting piece about the Cossacks at Sochi, and how they are busily racially profiling people; Canadians at the Games have their own special beer fridge that only opens for them; the first modern genocide may have taken place in Sochi; and, in less genocidey news, a Canadian coach helped out a Russian skier in the middle of the race when his ski broke. Spirit of the Games!
Bobby will be your Canadian coach tonight, and he will be covering Figure Skating Pairs Free Program, Women’s Halfpipe, Men’s Speedskating and more Julia Mancuso. The Games begin at 7 p.m. on NBC.
This post originally appeared on the Hearst site Chron.com.