Back to the garbage hotel with you, Meredith Vieira, it’s Matt Lauer’s turn back in front of the camera. Matt Lauer assures us that Bob Costas will be back tomorrow night (also known around here as “tonight”) but we’ll see. We will just see. I’m sure The Eye might have a thing or two to say about that.
Matt Lauer and The Beard begin the evening properly, Meredith Vieira, by outlining what we have to look forward to tonight:
- Ice Dancing Short Program
- Men’s Super G
- Two-Man Bobsledding
- Women’s Snowboarding Cross
- Mary Carillo investigates matryoshka dolls. No, but totally for real. This is not a parody of Mary Carillo stories, hand to God, Mary Carillo devotes a full ten minutes talking about Russian nesting dolls.
After the fancy flipping and jumping and twisting and helmet-shattering in Snowboarding Slopestyle, I have to admit, I approached Women’s Snowboarding Cross expecting to be underwhelmed. After all, another race? Yawn. But you know what? WRONG. I was so wrong! Snowboarding Cross be crazy! Basically, 6 snowboarders race each other down a track that involves a bunch of jumps and turns and traps set by Dick Dastardly that cause them to fall all over the place, taking out all the other snowboarders. Seriously, there were so many falls in these races, that it is a minor miracle anyone made it all the way down to the finish line to medal.
The first Quarterfinal Run is smooth and problem-free, and the snowboarder rocking the leader’s red jersey, the lucky-bemoustachioed Czech, Eva Samková, wins so hand(le bar moustached)ily and easily that we are lulled into a false sense of security. Because the second Quarterfinal run? EVERYTHING GOES TO CRAZYTOWN. The red jersey wearer in this race, Canada’s Maëlle Ricker, is boarding with an arm she broke two weeks ago. SHE IS SNOWBOARDING WITH A FRESHLY BROKEN ARM, YOU GUYS. And from the starting gate, it is evident that her injury has thrown off her balance and coordination. BECAUSE SHE HAS A BROKEN FOREARM. About halfway through the race, Maëlle remembers that she HAS A BROKEN ARM and collapses in a heap. Later in the race, the French racer, Charlotte Bankes, who had been in the lead, takes a turn poorly and ends up tangled up in the mesh netting on the sidelines. This crash freaks out the boarders behind her, taking out the Brazilian, Isabel Clark Ribeiro, and the Austrian, Susanne Moll. However, because they need the top three boarders to move on to the Semifinals, Moll manages to be the first of the fallen snowboarders to collect herself and cross the finish line, landing in third place after Switzerland’s Simona Meiler and France’s Chloé Trespeuch. So crash! Such terror!
In the fourth Quarterfinal is American Lindsey Jacobellis, i.e., the only athlete we’re allowed to care about according to NBC, because 1. she’s American and 2. she is a “comeback story.” In a video package that should have been entitled “Irony,” we learn Jacobellis’ story: In the 2006 Olympics, she was positioned to win the Gold, but pulled an unnecessary grab and ended up ceding the Gold to someone else. Then in the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, she messed up in the Semifinal race and was eliminated from the competition. Jacobellis then says in the video package that all the talk about Vancouver being her “redemption” got in her head and she wasn’t mentally prepared for the moment. WILL SOCHI BE LINDSEY JACOBELLIS’ REDEMPTION? NBC then screams.
Listen to yourself, NBC. Just … stop … and really listen.
Lindsey Jacobellis races against five other women including Torah Bright from Australia who, disappointingly for those of you who came to this site looking for nude pictures of Torah Bright — and you know who you are — does not snowboard nude. I repeat, there are no Torah Bright nude photos to be found here. Nor are there any Torah Bright hude photos, whatever those might be, perverts.
Lindsey Jacobellis wins her Quarterfinal race easily, moving her to the Semifinals. I SURE HOPE SHE REDEEMS HERSELF THERE!
In the first Semifinal race, Susanne Moll, the boarder who fell earlier, accepts what Fate clearly has in store for her and falls moments after the race begins. Soon after, Simona Meiler from Switzerland goes head first into a flag, and who even knows what happened to the French snowboarder, she just fell off the face of the earth, apparently. The American, Faye Gulini, comes in third by virtue of not being raptured, or whatever it was that happened to that French boarder, and the Czech, Eva Samková and her moustache win, solidly.
In the second Semifinal, Lindsey Jacobellis is cruising steadily along in the lead for — no exaggeration — 95% of the race, when, in the third to last turn, she has a very sad, anticlimatic little fall that looks more like she just kinda sat down. And with that, her redemption story is over. DO YOU SEE WHAT YOU DID, NBC? TRY LEARNING SOMETHING FROM THIS.
And in the final race, The Moustache wins, because, as Todds helpfully explains, “She gets out in front and stays in front to win the race.” O? IS THAT HOW A RACE WORKS, TODDS?
Or … is there another explanation?
MARY CARILLO TIME! As noted in the introduction, Mary Carillo explores the world of matryoshka nesting dolls — literally the most stereotypical cultural story they could have come up with, beating out babushkas, Chernobyl and vodka.
Things I learned about matryoshka nesting dolls from Mary Carillo:
- The Siberians make nesting dolls in the winter when they are trapped inside, hiding from the -75° temperatures for a solid 10 months of the year, and they need something, anything to do other than contemplate how, exactly, they are going to kill themselves.
- LATHE. LATHE YOUR HEARTS OUT, SIBERIANS.
- One family can make 35 dolls in a day. I do not know if this means they can make 35 sets of nesting dolls with, say, 5 dolls each, or 35 individual dolls. Mary Carillo does not clarify.
- There is an artist’s colony called Abramtsevo where Russian folk art was arted by artists. This has something to do with nesting dolls. Mary Carillo does not clarify.
- The nesting doll was introduced to the world at the 1900 World’s Fair in Paris, and people liked them. “ZUT ALORS! ZERE EES UN PEU DOLL EENSIDE ZIS GROS DOLL!” — Parisians upon seeing nesting dolls.
- The Soviet Union bailed out a nesting doll factory this one time, because.
- Now the factory only has 150 workers.
- Nesting dolls are dipped in glue to make the paint stick better. Mary Carillo is terrible at dipping nesting dolls in glue.
- Matt Lauer’s daughter wants some nesting dolls. “MORE NESTING DOLLS, DADDY!” Matt Lauer’s daughter Veruca Salts in my imagination.
Thank you, Mary Carillo! I look forward to your next report: “Caviar: They’re fish eggs!”
Next up: Two-Man Bobsledding, about which there isn’t that much to say, seeing as tonight’s coverage is just of the first two of four runs. We are rooting for Steve Holcomb and his partner, Some Other Guy, Don’t Worry About Him, because Holcomb is the American who won Gold in Vancouver, the first Gold in Bobsledding since 1948. That is a very long time!
There are two other American bobsledding teams competing, one of which is piloted by a man who, after competing in Vancouver, and being a part of the Holcomb team that won Gold, was deployed to Iraq. That is interesting! That is a human interest story, NBC. Tell us more about Christopher Fogt! They do not tell us more about Christopher Fogt, presumably because he does not have a “redemption” story or a dead sibling to exploit.
After two runs, Holcomb’s team is second only to Team Russia who appear to be bears. And I don’t mean “bear” in the sense of a burly man, I mean they are actual bears. From the forest. One of the bears is an arm wrestler, apparently, but I would not want to arm wrestle a bear because they would probably tear your arm off with their giant bear teeth and eat it. Bears!
Also, there is Team Jamaica, for whom, because there was that one John Candy movie that time and they are straight-up novelties (BOBSLEDDING? IN JAMAICA?!), everyone is rooting. Sadly, they are pretty terrible, and after two runs Team Jamaica is dead last with a more than two-minute difference between themselves and the leaders. GO JAMAICA.
The Ice Dancing Short Program is next, a competition I caught a little of earlier in the day. Question: WHERE ARE TARA LIPINSKI AND JOHNNY WEIR? They were there earlier in the day, giving color commentary, but are SORELY LACKING FROM PRIMETIME. This is some nonsense, NBC. You have television gold in these two, if only for Weir’s outfits, and you are squandering it. SQUANDERING.
An American sibling pair, the Shibutanis, are the first we are shown, and they are fine. Technically, they are proficient, and their routine manages to avoid the ick factor even though they are siblings. But aside from being adorable, they don’t have any character on the ice and I find myself not paying them the slightest bit of attention, even though I’ve never seen them before. I will completely forget they have even skated until I return to my notes and am like, “Oh, right, that brother-sister pair. Them.” They score a 64.47, which is respectable, I suppose.
Next up is another American pair we’ve never seen before, Madison Chock and Evan Bates. They have only been together for 2 years no, unlike everyone else who has been together since preschool or since THEY WERE BORN. They perform a 1920s-inspired routine that is fun and sassy and delightful. Also, Madison Chock is straight-up gorgeous, y’all, like movie star gorgeous. They score a 65.46.
There are some Italians, Anna Cappellini and Luca Lanotte, and they’re fine. They have a couple of missteps, but it’s nothing embarrassing, and their chemistry makes up the difference. They score a 67.58.
Hey! Have you heard? Americans Meryl Davis and Charlie White, they’ve been skating together since they were 7. Have you heard that before? You might have heard about that since NBC has told us roughly some 78.89 times.
Davis and White’s biggest competition, the Canadians, Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, do the same routine they performed in the Team Competition, and they are still very good. They are clean and elegant and they earn a very impressive 76.33.
And then there are the Russians. Ekaterina Bobrova and Dmitri Soloviev do their routine to “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend,” again, and I can’t pay attention, again. They aren’t bad, but they aren’t great, either. They score a 69.97, but a lot of that is certainly thanks to the crowd’s enthusiasm.
The other Russians, Elena Ilinykh and Nikita Katsalapov, have a perfectly normal routine to “Bei Mir Bistu Shein” before taking a surreal turn to “16 Tons.” “16 Tons?” Who on Earth ice skates to “16 Tons?” Why not “Big Bad John” or “King of the Road?” Who chose this? (Someone who does not speak English, that’s who.) They score a 73.04.
Team France is as Le French as they can possibly be. What with the little red slip dress and the pinstripe suit and the “oui oui” and they might as well have been dressed up as Pepe Le Pew and a French Poodle, but for seriously though. They score a 72.78, putting them in Bronze contention.
The other Canadian team is Andrew Poje and Kaitlyn Weaver, who is not actually from Canada, BUT IS ACTUALLY FROM HOUSTON? WHAT THE HEY, KAITLYN? Kaitlyn, it turns out, became a Canadian citizen so as to compete in the Vancouver Olympics, but hahaha, the mounties didn’t put her paperwork through in time, or something, and she was not eligible to compete as a Canadian. But now she is, not that it’s going to do her any good in the long run as she and her partner only score a 65.93.
Was it worth it, Kaitlyn? Was it really worth it?
Finally, Davis and White come out and do their “My Fair Lady” short program that I feel like I’ve seen 30 times already, but of which, somehow, I still haven’t grown tired. They are really good, y’all. Unstoppably good. And, in fact, they score a 78.89, the highest score ever given in an Ice Dancing Short Program. EVER. HIGHEST SCORE. In your stupid Canadian faces, Canada.
And the final event of the night (for our purposes) is the Men’s Super G, in which Bode Miller will shoot for his last medal, ever, and be shamelessly assaulted by an NBC reporter. The Super G, as we learned yesterday, is a terrible, terrible, dangerous event, where the skiers are not allowed to do training runs, and are essentially skiing down it blind. But then when you get to the bottom, that’s when the real terror begins: the press interviews. So scary! No thank you!
American Ted Ligety is the first skier NBC chooses to show us, and he hits a flag, causing him to lose an entire second, apparently.
That handsome Italian underpants model, Christof Innerhofer, who won Silver in the Downhill, goofs in a turn and veers completely off-course, and he is out of contention. Innerhofer takes his rage out on his pole, which is an innocent victim in all of this.
So Bode Miller. Bode Miller’s personal life is messed up, you guys. More messed up than NBC wants to tell you. Their version of the Bode Miller story is this: Bode Miller met Morgan Beck, professional beach volleyball player and hottie, and it was love at first sight — for him. She rebuffed his advances at first, but then, some 5 months after their first meeting, they were married. She is now the happy stepmother to his two children from previous relationships, Neesyn and “Nate.” In sadder Bode Miller news, Bode Miller’s younger brother, Chelone, died 10 months ago, after suffering a seizure. It was the last in a series of seizures following a traumatic brain injury Chelone suffered in a motorcycle crash.
What NBC leaves out of the Bode Miller saga are some of the more salacious details about his personal life, particularly in regards to his kids. I’m not going to detail them, but you can (and should) read about it all here.
So, anyhoo, Bode takes his run and he does a good job — a strong job, even, with a time of 1:18.67, and it lands him in first place for the time being. He’s clearly angry with himself for a mistake at the top of the run, and proceeds to look sick to his stomach as he watches skier after skier follow him down the mountain. Mrs. Bode Miller tries to comfort him, but he’s tense, AND NOT HAVING IT.
Still, the mountain isn’t easy for anyone, and his time stands, even up to his most worrisome competition and supervillain from an 80s action movie, Aksel Lund Svindal of Norway.
But Bode’s luck finally does run out, and Kjetil Jansrud of Norway beats his time by more than half a second. And then Jan Hudec of Canada manages to tie Bode’s time to the hundredths of a second. Finally, Andrew Weibrecht from Lake Placid, who won the Bronze in Vancouver, flails his way down the mountain and into Silver, pushing Bode Miller and Jan Hudec down into Bronze. U!S!A! U!S!A! U!S!A!
And then The Interview happens. Christen Cooper, a former World Cup skier herself, interviews Bode and begins by noting that Bode looks awfully emotional, before asking what was going through his mind. Bode obliquely gives her the answer she is looking for, saying it’s been a tough year and a struggle. This is not good enough for Cooper, who cuts to the chase and brings up the dead brother: “I know you wanted to be here, with Chilly, really experiencing these games and how much does it mean for you to come up with a great performance for him and was it for him?” Bode, clearly not wanting to talk about his brother, pushes off the suggestion, responding that he wanted to make himself proud. This is certainly not what Cooper was going for and BY THE SWOLLEN EYES OF BOB COSTAS, SHE SHALL HAVE HER TEARS. Cooper goes in for the low blow, the lowest blow, really: “When you’re looking up in the sky at the start, we see you there and it just looks like you’re talking to somebody. What’s going on there?” And with that, Bode essentially collapses into a sobbing heap.
Are you happy now, NBC? Is this what you wanted, you monsters?
Let’s wrap this up with a quick check of the McDonald’s McMedal board: The Netherlands are in the lead with 17 medals thanks to all of the speed-skating medals; America and Russia are tied with 16. I can live with this. For now.
Here are a few more Olympic links for your time-wasting pleasure: NBC has a secret Starbucks in Sochi that might run McFoul of the official sponsors; bobsledding is boring (no doy); the most juvenile thing you will watch all day; and cat curling:
Bobby will be curling your cats tonight with men’s freestyle skiing, Davis and White winning the gold in ice dancing I MEAN, ice dancing, men’s snowboarding cross, and hey! ski jumping!
This post originally appeared on the Hearst site Chron.com.