Winter Olympics, Part II


I think I accidentally watched the Canadian Channel tonight. Either that or NBC's coverage has suddenly tilted way northward.

Granted, Americans always root for Canadians. They're sort of like us, only nicer. They're like Mormons and Minnesotans.

So we root for them, whenever possible. We shared their outrage, when they were (temporarily) robbed of a pairs gold medal in 2002; we shared NBC's fascination this year with seeing them win their first gold on home soil.

Now they have two golds, which is great. Still, NBC seems to be going too far. Mary Carillo's figure-skating interview was with Patrick Chen, an amiable kid who isn't at the top of his field; then came the four-woman finals in the snowboarding cross.

The Canadian jumped to first place, quickly making it a non-contest. Then one woman fell ... and then another. The fourth-place woman was suddenly cruising to a silver medal; the others were scrambling back to their feet, in search of bronze.

This was interesting .... except the cameras and announcers promptly ignored it. They never showed the recoveries, barely told us who finished second and third. They simply yammered about happy Canadians.

My bet? NBC had decided in advance that this was the story of the event. Once things changed, the announcers and director just stuck to the storyline, failing to adjust.

That's why it's a pleasure to see a great sportscaster like Scott Hamilton in figure-skating. He adjusts constantly. He finds the stories, with no advance pre-conceptions. He was interested in Patrick Chen -- but more interested in the men who did much better and much worse.

Sportscasting is about catching the moment. The greats -- Hamilton, Bob Costas -- do that; the others just show happy Canadians.