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Olympic Broadcasting Hits and Misses

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The 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics are over.  I wanted to take a look at some things I thought were great and some things I thought could be improved from the Olympic broadcasts.  Please leave your thoughts, as well.

Hit:  I can't count the number of friends who have told me how helpful Tracy Wilson's demonstration on under-rotation of jumps was. 

Hit:  Universal Sports' review/preview show.  At first I wasn't sure if I would like it but after a few days I was hooked.  The hosts had fun and the guest lineup was amazing - with everyone from Tamara Moskvina to Dick Button to Johnny Weir.  I also enjoyed the fashion reviews by Nick Verreos from Project Runway.  I was so sad when it ended!

Hit:  Dick Button. I know some people don't like his cantankerous style, but I thought it was more effective to hear Button compare Evgeny Plushenko's skating to a sledgehammer than to hear Scott Hamilton groan for whatever reason at the end of Plushenko's program.  I love that Button points out what is ugly and beautiful about a program...too often Hamilton and Sandra Bezic seem so fixated on a certain narrative about a skater that they won't dare criticize too harshly or praise too high.

Hit:  The commentators were sometimes silent.

Hit:  NBC showed full medal ceremonies, even for events the United States did not medal in.  It was nice to see the receptions that the skaters got.

Hit:  Showing three-year-old Rachael Flatt.  ADORABLE.

Miss:  NBC's broadcast team overplayed Rachael Flatt's and Mirai Nagasu's medal chances to the point where all the casual fans I spoke with thought Nagasu was ripped off when she didn't win the bronze.  They were not reminded enough during the broadcast that Nagasu came into the night in sixth place and about at least one, if not two, major mistakes worth of points behind Rochette.  It would also have been helpful if they had explained that Rochette's errors were fairly minor and she did pay for them in the judging on the technical side.  Turning out of a jump landing is nowhere near as bad as a fall or an under-rotation, but everyone I spoke with still seemed to think Nagasu should have vaulted past Rochette. 

Miss:  Not trying a bit harder to explain Rachael Flatt's downgrades in the free skate.  Even in the aftershow, the commentators were as clueless as the audience.  Maybe they should have asked some colleagues or something for a different angle - I personally could not see it, either.  But now it just sounds like the judges are out to get Flatt and NBC didn't do anything to change the viewpoint, which hopefully is not the case.

Miss:  Showing gold medalists looking needlessly grumpy (although it can be kind of funny)!  Maria Mukhortova wanted to skate to "Love Story" because Jamie Sale is her idol, so don't tell us that and then show Sale looking disgusted at the program afterwards.  It's not even a bad program, when performed without so many mistakes.  That was just needlessly snarky to both Mukhortova and Sale.

Miss:  The commentators were silent through some programs, but for others, like Daisuke Takahashi's free skate, they essentially ruined the moment for me with unnecessary criticism at the end that I didn't quite get.  If you are going to pinpoint a certain move and criticize (ala Dick Button), then so be it.  But don't just decide at the end that the program wasn't as good as it looked on television or something and you feel the need to put that on the viewers.  Viewers need help in identifying a triple lutz.  They don't need help deciding whether the life was sucked out of a program that is very much still alive and kicking.  

Miss:  Totally ignoring Laura Lepisto.  Ok, maybe you didn't have time to show her with the crunch of the final six skaters.  But, don't just ignore the fact that she had a good skate and vaulted into sixth place past Rachael Flatt.  Maybe mention it and show her triple/triple in replay or something.  I understand why Nordic Combined was important to show (although it was taped and I believe only the medal ceremony was live), but it's too bad the viewers missed some great skating in the second to last group. 

Miss:  Not showing us Nagasu's personality.  We all know by now that Nagasu is gold for reporters, and the commentators mentioned how fun she is, but show some more clips or something so the folks at home can get the picture. 

Some top moments for me:

The gasp heard round the world, when Shen and Zhao's lift nearly came crashing down (not a good moment, but oh, so memorable)

Seeing Shen and Zhao when they realized they won the gold medal.

Lysacek's skates and seeing Frank Carroll when he realized Evan Lysacek won the gold medal.

Mirai Nagasu's realization that she was in fourth place.

Evora and Ladwig's beautiful and clean short program.

Davis and White and Virtue and Moir's entire competitions and the heartfelt emotion Davis showed for her training mates when they won.

Kim Yu-Na's perfect free skate.

Joannie Rochette's short program.

Daisuke Takahashi's short program and score - and knowing then that Plushenko was beatable.

Lambiel's spins.  Wherever and whenever.

Johnny Weir skating the way he wanted to at the Olympics.

Asada landing all of those triple axels following unbeatable Kim.

The fact that I agreed with 11 out of 12 medals.

Don't forget, the world championships are in a few weeks!  I'll be covering them here.