Pop Culture Junkette

Addicted to pop culture.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Olympics 2010, Monday, Feb. 15

Today I watched:

Skiing, women's cross-country 15,000m
Skiing, men's cross-country 10,000m
Snowboard cross, men's qualifiers, semi-finals and finals
Skiing, men's downhill finals
Speed skating, men's 500m
Figure skating, pairs long program
Luge, women's, run 2

This was a great Olympic television-watching day for me. I loved watching the snowboarding--it's so fun watching them speed down the hill, and it's always so exciting when there are four snowboarders going head-to-head(-to head-to head).

Pairs skating is one of my favorite Olympic events, so watching the long program was great. I have to admit that some tears may have sprung into my eyes when Shen and Zhou won the gold medal. NBC has been shoving their story down our throats for two days now (they are 31 and 36 years old, have been skating together for 18 years, are married, and came out of retirement for one last chance to win the gold--the one goal they hadn't accomplished in their skating career), and it is compelling! I also thought they had chemistry on the ice.

The commentary that accompanies the skating, however, leaves much to be desired. Dick Button is clearly far past his prime, and his comments can sometimes seem non-sensical, awkward, or slightly incoherent. He talked with Al Michaels some of the issues he has with the grading system, and Al could not have looked more bored. Way to put on the game face, Al.

Some of the stories are not quite as moving. During the downhill, we were told that one of the skiiers had broken his thumb two weeks before the Olympics. Yes, that sucks. But I don't think it's quite the story of bravery against all odds that the commentators made it out to be. Hockey players have played through entire playoff series with a broken thumb, and they really need to use their hands at all times in moving their stick and controlling the puck. Does a downhill skiier really use his thumb all that much? Is it a shocking story when one decides to race through the pain for the few minutes the race lasts? I'm not saying the racer wasn't impressive, but the NBC coverage was hyperbolic.

Tomorrow is the premiere of hockey! USA vs. Switzerland at 3 p.m., Canada versus Norway at 8 p.m., and Russia versus Latvia at midnight. USA, Canada and Russia should win the games pretty easily, but it will be fun to start watching some hockey. The Washington Post ran a photo of the skates Ovechkin will be wearing during the Olympics.

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