I feel bad. As a loyal Olympics viewer and long-time blogger, I’ve shirked my responsibilities waiting until after this year’s Winter Olympics wrapped up to share any thoughts. Yeah, we were watching the games pretty much every evening. But with the oddness of this year’s time difference, there was usually one thing on a night that I was interested in.
I think this could be a problem going forward, as this is the first of three-straight Olympics to be hosted in Asia. The 2020 summer games in Japan will manage, because there are a lot more sports involved and NBC can stack events up much better for prime time. But the 2022 winter games in Beijing will suffer from the same issues this year’s games suffered from. Especially if bad weather pushes events out of the prime viewing hours in the US. If NBC has three sports to fill prime time, and one or more get delayed/postponed because of weather, folks start switching over to the Food Network or ESPN. I think it was a massive mistake to hold three consecutive games in Asia. That continent might have a bigger potential TV audience, but the American market still rules for TV revenue. Putting three-straight games in the absolute worst part of the world for live TV in US prime time is just dumb.
But no one ever accused the International Olympic Committee of making rational decisions.
Just another reason to limit the games to a handful of sites they rotate through on a regular basis so only every third or fourth games is opposite of the US, the biggest revenue producing TV audience.
The time difference caused another annoyance for me. The middle weekend of the games, when they are at their busiest point, is always a great time to be a casual viewer. You can usually count on spending parts of your Saturday and Sunday glued to the couch watching sports you won’t watch for another four years. But afternoons in the US are early mornings in Korea, so NBC either showed nothing or events that were over 12 hours old and you already knew the results for. There was no compelling reason for me to stay in front of the TV once I had logged my college basketball time for the day.
OK, enough complaints. Here are some half-assed bullet points I jotted down over the course of the last two weeks.
- I’m sure I wonder this every four years, but why isn’t the US better at biathlon? Who loves guns more than us? The NRA should be embarrassed it can’t produce some bullseye hittin’ ‘Mericans who can keep those godless socialists from Scandinavia and other pussy European countries from always winning all the biathlon medals.
- I never checked his name, but that freaking cross country analyst was the best announcer of the game. He screamed at the top of his lungs on every close finish. He had the call of the games on Jessie Diggins’ final push on her gold medal clinching leg of the team sprint: “HERE COMES DIGGINS!!!! YES!!!! YES!!!! YESSSSSSS!!!!!!!” Her performance was awesome, but was also enhanced by that screaming.
- The rather unfortunate counter to that dude was Bode Miller. I don’t want to pile on too much, because the piling on has been endless for the past two weeks. And I actually found some of Miller’s insights to be very good. But there’s no doubt both his monotone delivery and his dismissal of so much of what he saw was troublesome. Skiing is always my favorite part of the winter games, and my enjoyment of it was impacted a ton by Miller, by the odd scheduling, and by NBC’s decision to cut away when the results were still in doubt in order to get figure skating in front of the prime time audience.
- Ya’ll know I’m not really down with figure skating. But I did watch some here and there, mostly just to get my dose of Tara and Johnny. They’re good stuff. On an early night of the games I pointed out Johnny to the girls and said, “Do you remember him? You weren’t sure about him four years ago.” L responded, “I’m still not sure about him!”
- I’m not sure who the snow boarding announcer was, but I enjoyed how he had zero fear of dropping standard announcing cliches on that event: “Look up the word clutch and you’ll find a picture of David Wise!” Really? I wonder if there’s a sabermetric side of snowboarding where people are working hard to prove that clutch-ness does not exist.
- So PyeongChang was supposedly the coldest location to ever host the Winter Olympics. Shame there was no snow. It was jarring to see the ski slopes, snowboard courses, and cross country trails covered in synthetic snow while the hills around them were all brown. I never heard whether this was normal for that area, whether they normally have plenty of snow but this year has been dry, or if this was part of what so many mountain recreation areas are seeing as the new normal as the climate changes. It was jarring to see footage from past Olympics, especially in Europe, where there was heavy snow falling during events and the countryside was always blanketed in white.
- I understand why NHL players aren’t in the games anymore. But it seems weird that players from some of the other best pro leagues in the world where there. Much like I’ve argued that Olympic basketball should go to a U24 or U21 format, it may be time to do the same for men’s hockey.
- But keep women’s hockey exactly as it is. The US and Canada remain the only two teams that really matter, and as long as we get them in the gold medal game every four years, we’re guaranteed a thrilling game. I had forgotten how the gold medal game ended four years ago, with Canada scoring twice in the final four minutes of regulation to tie it – and the US hitting the post on an open-goal chance that would have clinched it – before winning in overtime. This year’s gold medal match was even more exciting and sweet retribution for the Americans.
- The Olympics didn’t feel right without either Bob Costas or Al Michaels managing most of the hosting duties. Mike Tirico has been boring me for 20 years, so I guess he’s the ideal safe choice to slide in as prime time host.
- Norway! What the fuck, man? They just destroyed everybody. That’s one of the things I love about the winter games, small nations who are otherwise somewhat anonymous dominating the nations that sweep up all the medals in the summer games. All the Norwegian athletes I saw interviewed were awesome. And I loved all the immediate columns trying to figure out what about Norwegian society allowed them to win so many medals. Maybe it’s just a fluke, that a nation that is focused on winter sports and always has great skiers of all disciplines, cranked out a bunch of epic athletes at the same time, while other countries that also do well in skiing had one or two fewer elite athletes than normal. Maybe it was dumb luck. Or maybe it is because they don’t keep score in youth leagues over there.
- Two favorite press conferences of the games were by Ester Ledecka, the shock winner of the women’s Super G, and Sofia Goggia, who won the downhill. Ledecka refused to remove her helmet and goggles for her mandatory press conference. Asked why, she responded, “I didn’t think I would win, so I don’t got no makeup on.” And Goggia, when asked about her feelings as she watched Norway’s Ragnhid Mowinckel come down the hill with splits near her times said, “Oh, I shit my pants!” Honesty is fun.
- Ragnhid Mowinckel is a dope-ass name.
- At the risk of being called a dirty old man, yes, I did image searches for many of the female snowboarders and skiers. I’m not proud.
That’s all for these games. Looking forward to 2026 when, maybe, the games will be in North America or Europe again and I can see a bigger chunk of the events live. I vote for Stockholm or Calgary.