You guys, I want some answers. Why are these Olympic broadcasts so poorly structured? Is it the time difference? Is it the fact NBC has 1,000 channels and streaming so the nation isn’t gathered around its collective hearth to see the big stuff in primetime anymore?
Because, friends, I am STRUGGLING. Last night was another evening mostly without medals. Nor were there any helpful/entertaining/cheesy video packages to rally behind.
Instead, we, again, spend so much fucking time with the Lindsey Vonn. So much the Lindsey Vonn. In fact, the few short video packages we get are about the Lindsey Vonn, though I’m not entirely sure they weren’t all Visa commercials, if I’m being completely honest. Neither of them is particularly enlightening. One recaps all of the Lindsey Vonn’s many, many injuries over the years, while the other is just about how she goes for it and always gives her 110 percent and zzzzzzzz …
Anyway, the important stuff to know is the Lindsey Vonn missed Sochi due to injury, so she’s here to get another gold. She up against her best frenemy, Italy’s Sofia Goggia in the downhill. It might be/likely is Vonn’s last time down the slopes competing in downhill, so she wants it bad.
We watch the first couple of skaters, and it is relatively unremarkable. Bode Miller is on commentary, and boy does he have a voice for print modeling. The guy’s got nothing interesting to say, and he says it like he’s reading off the correct answers on a spelling quiz. Can we get Adam Rippon out here? [Ed. Note: Adam Rippon turns down NBC offer to join Winter Olympics coverage so he can rep Team USA. And if Gus Kenworthy is still hanging around, I don’t blame him for a second.]
Goggia hits the slopes and finishes the course in 1 minute and 39.22 seconds. That puts her comfortably in the top spot. The Vonn heads down shortly after, finishing the course about half a second longer than Goggia did. So … that’s it then? No other run, no gold for the Vonn. We spent several nights hyping the Vonn, and it’s all over in less than two minutes.
The Vonn is taking it all in stride, laughing and smiling at the bottom of the course. Maybe losing to her buddy Goggia isn’t such a hard pill to swallow.
Then, Norway’s Ragnhild Mowinckel comes speeding down the slopes, knocking the Vonn down to bronze. Suddenly Vonn is not handling this nearly as well. She’s shook, y’all.
Once the standings are set (Goggia for gold, Mowinckel for silver, the Vonn for bronze), the interviewer grabs Lindsey for the juicy, teary interview we’re all waiting for. Lindsey explains her disappointment after working so hard, but blah blah blah you win some, you lose some, not her day, the usual Olympic patter. But then the interviewer is like OK, BUT WHAT ABOUT YOUR DEAD GRANDFATHER WHOSE INITIALS YOU WROTE ON YOUR HELMET AND IS DEAD? ARE YOU SAD ABOUT THAT? DO YOU THINK HE WAS WATCHING YOU LOSE FROM THE GRAVE?!
That’s when Vonn loses it and starts to break down. But, you know what? She’s proud of what she’s done. And she should be! Go on, girl! You work that bronze, baby! Truly nothing to be ashamed of. You’re THE fucking Lindsey Vonn.
The other medal event of the evening was some kind of insane short track speed skating relay that was sincerely so bonkers I can’t even for one second wrap my mind around how any of it was supposed to work. Picture speed skating meets roller derby meets like a conga line? It’s nuts. South Korea wins, and the crowd goes wild.
The rest of our night is spent on a lot of night one of two-night events, and y’all know how I feel about that.
We saw the women’s bobsledders, sort of. Nigeria has a bobsled team, that’s cool! Do we see them actually bobsled? I don’t think so!
Hey, look! It’s a Jamaican bobsled team! That’s cool! I liked Cool Runnings (probably about as much as they like hearing about it!). They don’t do great on their early runs! What about their later runs? Tune in tonight to find out, probably!
Then there are the Americans, led by Elana Meyers Taylor, trying to get vengeance on the Canadians for beating them in Sochi by a fraction of a second. Will they beat them this time? Guess we’ll find out tonight!
Even though it was only half the event, women’s figure skating also happened, sort of. We caught passing glimpses of some performances in the short program, with the emphasis on the American competitors.
Tara and Johnny tell us about a rivalry between two “Not Russian” Russian skaters, but their names are very Russian and they tell us about them so quickly, I can’t even keep up. THIS IS EXACTLY THE KIND OF THING THAT WOULD MAKE A GREAT, DRAMATIC VIDEO PACKAGE, YOU GUYS.
We don’t even see the “Not Russians” skate in the broadcast. (According to the internet, they were VERY, VERY good.) Instead, we first see American Bradie Tennell skate and fall and skate some more. She earns a 64.01, but doesn’t strike me as a real contender.
Later, Japan’s Kaori Sakamoto skates one of those lovely routines that looks so effortless, but she earns an impressive 73.18 and a polite golf clap from yours truly.Embed from Getty Images
USA’s Mirai Nagasu, the first American women to land a triple axel at the Olympics, attempts to repeat the feat in the short program. It does not go nearly as well. However, because figure skating’s tricky scoring, falling attempting to do a triple axel is actually worth more than just doing a perfectly fine double axel. She gets a 66.93.
Next up, Canada’s Gabrielle Daleman takes on Carmen,
a Hip-Hopera. I don’t know, she looks fun? As Johnny says, “She sells that short program like the rent’s due tomorrow, and she hasn’t gotten a paycheck yet.” 68.90 for my new galpal.
We’ve got another American, Karen Chen, after that. She takes a tiny stumble up top that costs her big points, but she’s a winner in my book for her birdlike ensemble that includes like a hand-puppet bird head glove thing. It’s only 65.9 from the judges.
The skater from Kazakstan performs and does her best. It’s … not great. She doesn’t fall, but she doesn’t thrill, either. 57.95.
They were saving the best for last, because South Korea’s Choi Da-Bin comes out there skating to “Papa Can You Hear Me” by Barbra fucking Streisand, DEDICATED TO HER MOM THAT DIED OF CANCER. Just give this girl all the gold medals. She skates an incredible program that has me leaping to my feet with applause. The crowd goes completely nuts. It’s a great moment. She earns 67.77.
And that’s it? I guess. Wish we got to see more of the skaters, especially those “Not Russians” that apparently were so very good. Oh well! Tonight’s primetime coverage includes more skiing, women’s bobsled, men’s slalom, men’s freestyle halfpipe and women’s cross-country. I have no idea how they’re going to cram all that into any sort of coherent broadcast, so good luck, Therese!