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  • This is my open and public plea to NBC… PLEASE, NBC… stop the spoilers. Apparently, NBC thinks they should be able to decide whether the fans of the Olympics know what’s going on in other games if we’re recording them.

    For those who don’t already know, I watch every bit of the Olympics NBC sees fit to air on TV and right now I’m more than two days behind in everything but the Olympics (I’m almost 12 hours behind in that from when it aired on the east coast). I’m keeping up with hockey, since so many people in Pittsburgh love hockey and getting everyone to cooperate (which they did well) for one day is mean enough. I know everyone will be talking about the men’s hockey USA vs. Slovakia game tomorrow and since we’re in Pittsburgh, many will discuss the games where their other stars are playing (Russia, Canada, etc.), so I’ve chosen to watch no pregame, intermission, or postgame reports and JUST watch the games. I’m watching the USA game first, since I care more about spoilers in that than anything else, but I SHOULD be able to just watch the game safely.

    Sadly, this was not the case. I’ve skipped when they were showing clips from the other game, but when Doc Emrick mentions some of the players scoring in the other game WHILE doing the play by play, it gives me two options. 1. Not listen to Doc (which would have the advantage of not having to listen to some of the other stuff, but is not preferred for me) by completely muting the game and avoiding the stick sounds, cheering, etc. and 2. Alternate every minute or so in order to find out what happens in the other game before Doc gets the notification and decides to share it. Neither of these options leave me with a good experience of the games I most want to watch in the Sochi Olympics.

    NBC clearly thinks fans don’t care about spoilers. Anyone who has ever watched a sporting event they love when they’ve already known the score or who scores certain goals or runs knows that it is not as exciting when they know the outcome. (In fact, my boyfriend was unsuccessful in avoiding the score and simply isn’t as interested in the game now as he was a few hours ago…) NBC should give the fans the option. They should say and show spoiler alerts before sharing information about other games and events when they are aired concurrently. They should not share any of this information while calling the game they are broadcasting. They need to respect their fans. Without their fans, NBC would not be making any money off of broadcasting the Olympics and it’s always about the money.

    If a fan decides to watch games out of order (say watching USA vs. Slovakia before Finland vs. Austria) and an announcer mentions the earlier game without saying it’s a spoiler alert, it’s partially their fault for choosing to watch out of order (always risky). If someone is choosing to watch one game and then another when both air at the same time, they should be allowed to fully enjoy both of those games. Please, NBC… Let your fans fully enjoy all the Olympics you’re choosing to show. We can’t watch everything even if we have several TV’s in one room, quit our jobs, stop sleeping, and watch all the online coverage somehow; but we should be allowed to enjoy the Olympics at our own pace and enjoy everything they own when we finally get to the broadcasts – free of spoilers.

    Because of NBC’s choices, I’ve decided to switch to the Slovenia/Russia men’s hockey game when I’m about halfway through the USA game. I’ll watch it until I get to about the same time on the recording (not in the game) and go back to the USA game. I shouldn’t have to do this, but I want to know as little as possible. I haven’t heard any USA/Slovakia updates yet in the play-by-play, but I won’t be surprised if I do.

    I love sports and the Olympics are one of my favorite times of the year every other year. I work very hard to avoid scores and information. One of my friends mentioned an article (I have yet to read) saying that fans don’t care about spoilers. Every fan (casual and serious) I’ve discussed this with thinks the idea is ridiculous. Every single one of them cares about spoilers and would love to be able to avoid them. Some of these people can’t for one reason or another (can’t give up their sports talk radio for that long, etc.), but if they COULD enjoy the games they most want to see without the spoilers, they would do it.

    Side note: I feel sorry for everyone calling the Slovenian games. Those neon numbers on the white are pretty hard to read even on a 60” LED HDTV with better than perfect vision. I don’t know where the press boxes are located in Sochi, but I’m guessing they’re not super close. I’m a huge fan of Anze Kopitar (and long for a day when most of the the national media broadcasting hockey will finally be able to universally correctly pronounce Anze), but yikes! Those jerseys are loud. Of course, all of Slovenia’s uniforms are bright, but these are also difficult to read…

    Enjoy the Olympics! Go USA!

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  • The Olympics only started last Thursday and already NBC has been very disappointing. I’m Olympics-obsessed. When I traveled to the Olympics four years ago, I realized I could not avoid news and had to be okay with knowing results before I got to see some of the events. It’s impossible to attend all events you care about when they’re concurrent, clearly…

    Normally, when I watch the Olympics, I watch everything NBC chooses to air (often very lacking) and I watch it in order. Though I’ve given up cable/dish and my DVR before, I cannot do without them during the Olympics. NBC advertised the Olympics this year as having more coverage than Vancouver and Torino combined. Wonderful! I was so excited about the extra coverage.

    Now that we’re a few days into the games, I have a question for NBC, though. How much of your coverage is not original, but repeats of what you showed earlier (sometimes live, sometimes not)? I’m going to argue it’s a fairly large percent.

    Some examples:

    So far, 100% of the skating has been aired twice (sometimes more). During the day, the live (or closer to live) coverage has great commentary by Tara Lipinski & Johnny Weir. Sadly, those who don’t have NBC Sports Network (quite a few of my friends) are totally missing this amazing commentary. That night, in prime time, the SAME events are re-aired… the viewer sees the same skating as earlier with different commentary. The primetime commentary is by Scott Hamilton, Tracy Wilson, & Sandra Bezic. I adore Scott Hamilton. I have for years. I’m thrilled that he’s still involved, but don’t see why I can’t hear him WITH Johnny Weir & Tara Lipinski. I haven’t watched every skating performance twice, so I’ve heard more of my preferred announcers (Johnny Weir & Tara Lipinski), but the times that I have listened to both, since I really wanted to see the performance again without replaying it myself rather than skipping it, I was disappointed with the primetime commentary. Perhaps it’s because Johnny and Tara are younger. I’m not sure. I definitely find them much more entertaining and it’s a shame those without NBCSN don’t even get the option to see them. They point out a lot of things not mentioned in the evening coverage I’ve found very interesting.

    The coverage of Bode Miller’s first skiing run was aired three times. I watched it twice, since my boyfriend had missed it the first time, but I skipped it the third. In this case, the commentary was exactly the same.

    Many other events have been re-aired, but each time they’re aired they showed the same snowboarders, skiers, ski jumpers, etc. I understand replaying the one main hockey game a day. It’s clearly labeled. But I think any repeated coverage should be CLEAR about being a repeat. They should mention that those who have been recording everything and watching in order have already seen this coverage. It should say “Replay” somewhere on the screen. The first time they did this, I thought I was imagining things and had to verify with my boyfriend that we’d already seen some of the events’ EXACTLY as aired.

    I think the live coverage should have more of the event. While I understand this is apparently all online, there are spoilers online too. I don’t want to know who won the events before I see the events and I’m already about 6 hours behind. By this time tomorrow, I’ll be even more behind. I can’t afford not to work for the entire Olympics and need sleep, so it’s impossible to stay on track. If I went onto NBC’s website to see what I was missing, they would tell me about things that have happened that haven’t aired and that have aired that I haven’t gotten to yet. This isn’t a very good solution for those of us who love the Olympics enough to see everything possible.

    There are many other things NBC could improve (a little flag by the NBC symbol when the skaters are performing, so you can see what country they represent if you can’t remember, showing the skater’s name until the music starts at least rather than flashing it quickly on the screen), but they are doing many things better this year and seem to be improving each time.

    So far, I haven’t seen Andrea Joyce say anything rude to the competitors (she’s the one who always seems to point out that they lost gold instead of concentrating on the fact that they WON silver or bronze and are still better than almost everyone in the world), which is a welcome change. I like the addition of the music the skaters are using for their routines. Though I would normally recognize it and have seen some of the performances many times already, it’s nice to see the composers getting the credit they deserve.

    I wish NBC hadn’t renewed. I think other companies might come up with better ideas for showing the Olympics and that all the channels could grow and learn from each other if they alternated the way they seemed to alternate in the old days. However, I’m glad that they’re getting better in some aspects. I hope one of these years they’ll be honest about their coverage and not repeat some events as often, but I’m not holding my breath.

    Hope you’re enjoying what NBC wants us to see of the Olympics or (better yet) that you’re in another country and able to enjoy less biased coverage (the Vancouver coverage of the 2010 Olympics was truly amazing).

    Go USA!

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  • The Pan Pacific championships had only been held in the United States one other time since they started in 1985 (they were in Atlanta, GA in 1995). Swimming is one of my favorite Summer Olympic sports, so when I saw that the championships were going to be a few miles away (and practically on my way home from work), I had to go. I wanted to make sure I saw Ryan Lochte and Michael Phelps (my two favorite American swimmers). They both competed the first night and Michael Phelps was swimming the 200m fly – the stroke I most wanted to watch live. I used to swim a lot and though I was pretty good at butterfly, it’s definitely my least favorite. Butterfly is definitely the most impressive to watch on TV and live, though.

    Not surprisingly, Phelps won the 200m fly. Though he won with the fastest time this year, he was clearly disappointed and ready to put this race behind him and concentrate on doing it better next time. In his post-win interview, he said he was far from the shape he wants to be in going into the Olympics in 2012. He may not have beaten his world record, but Phelps looked pretty good from where I was sitting. Ryan Lochte won the 200m free, which was also great to see live. Not surprisingly, he was much more pleased with his performance than Phelps. Lochte’s teammate Peter Vanderkaay came in third Aaron Peirsol, who was only in the A final of the 50m back because Lochte dropped out (he decided to only compete in one event per day) won the race. He thanked Lochte from dropping out of the race in his post-win interview.

    Allison Schmitt won the women’s 200m freestyle, followed by Morgan Scroggy as the US women finished 1-2 in that event. Teresa Crippen and Kathleen Hersey finished 2-3 in the 200m fly, Christine Magnuson won bronze in the 50m butterfly, and Natalie Coughlin won bronze in the 100m backstroke. The United States definitely had a great start in the swimming championships.

    The Australians also did very well, starting off the night with two swimmers (only one of whom was in the A finals heat) tying for the Pan Pacific Championship record in the 50m fly. Marieke Guehrer won gold alone, since her teammate Yolane Kukla who set the Pan Pacific Championship record in the first race of the night was in the consolation final.

    Needless to say, NBC didn’t show the event live, but they were there tonight and will air highlights of the championships Saturday morning and Sunday afternoon (Pacific time). It’s really great that NBC will be televising the championships in HD, though. I look forward to seeing the races I watched (and the rest of the championships) from another angle.

    I really enjoyed my first big swimming event. Until tonight, I don’t think I’d attended a swimming meet where I didn’t compete. It was very exciting to see world championship swimming so close to home. I never would have expected to see swimming championships in Orange County. Those of us in southern California are very lucky. We’ve had one of the mildest summers I can remember as the rest of the country has been facing record highs and we get to watch the Pan Pacific Swimming Championships live. What more could an Olympic-obsessed hockey fan trying to fill the time before the NHL season starts up again want? Training camps start in just a little under a month, so it won’t be long before the NHL is back. It was nice to have the swimming championships as a distraction until the NHL returns.

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  • As I prepare to travel to my uncle’s funeral in Pennsylvania, I’ve been thinking about all the fond memories I have of him. He’d been suffering from cancer the last couple years and I was pretty good about writing to him and dropping everything (even U2 tickets) to make sure I saw him when he was in southern California. I didn’t call enough and that’s something I can’t change now, though I hope I’ll remember when I have another sick relative or friend and take the time.

    I know my uncle knows I loved him and thanks to the Olympics and my aunt who was visiting him, I talked to my uncle recently. While watching one of the hockey games on TV, my aunt and uncle needed a hockey term defined for them. Naturally, they called me on my cell phone. I was in a bar (Score on Davie) in Vancouver watching the US women’s hockey team destroy Sweden in their semifinal game. My aunt tells me that any time they were watching hockey they were always looking for me and my uncle was really impressed and happy that I picked up the phone to talk to them even though I was in Vancouver for the Olympics. I’ll forever be happy that my aunt and uncle didn’t know what the announcers meant when they talked about a hat trick. Though NBC should have explained hockey terms during the Olympics, since many viewers of the Olympics are not people who regularly follow the individual sports, I’m actually glad that NBC was typically unaware of their audience. It allowed me a chance to talk to my uncle one last time. We never know what our last interaction with a loved one will be. I was lucky that the Olympics brought me a very recent memory of my uncle. Thank you Aunt Tricia, the Olympics, and NBC for bringing me my last memory of Uncle Hubert. I will always remember the last time we talked.

    Every mass my uncle said (to my knowledge), he ended with a traditional Irish Blessing. I think it’s only fitting that I do the same…

    May the road rise to meet you,
    May the wind be always at your back,
    May the sun shine warm upon your face,
    May the rains fall soft upon your fields,
    And, until we meet again,
    May God hold you in the hollow of His hand.

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  • I’ve always liked Evan Lysacek’s figure skating. I like his style so much better than that of Evgeni Plushenko and one thing that bothers me about the new system of scoring is that it tends to reward skaters who just do jump after jump, but have no real style. Of course, my other big problem with scoring is that a skater can fall (sometimes even more than once) and still rank higher than someone who didn’t fall (Patrick Chan coming in 5th and Johnny Weir ending up in 6th is a good example of this in the most recent men’s figure skating).

    When Evan Lysacek won gold in Vancouver, he kept the streak alive for the American skaters. Every men’s skater from the US to go into the Olympics as the world champion has defended his title by winning gold. The last skater (from any country) to defend his world champion title at the Olympics was Scott Hamilton in 1984.

    Lysacek’s win with the new scoring system surprised me for a couple reasons. Though Lysacek clearly deserved to win from my perspective, I was concerned when Plushenko skated that he’d be rewarded for more difficult jumps or something. I don’t understand the technical aspect of ice skating as much as I do hockey, gymnastics, and some other Olympic sports. I just know what I think looks good and can’t really imagine how a program where someone falls can be better than one where someone doesn’t if they’re in the same general category. I’ll never be able to understand that aspect of the new judging, I’m sure. Figure skating frustrates me now, since the judging makes no sense a lot of the time.

    When Lysacek’s scores are compared to Plushenko’s, Lysacek beat Plushenko in the technical score. That really made me happy; as I’m sure it did many who prefer his routines to Plushenko’s. What surprised me is that Plushenko and Lysacek tied in the artistic score for their routines. I don’t think the judges could have possibly seen the same two routines I did. Sure, Lysacek skated quite a bit earlier than Plushenko, but how could they think Plushenko’s routine was as artistically pleasing?

    It’s sad that the current figure skating system is such that I’m shocked when they get it “right” from my perspective and the person I think deserves gold wins. I agreed with the winners of the medals almost all the time with the old system.

    As much as I’ve always liked Evan Lysacek on the ice and in interviews, the way he handled Bob Costas throwing Plushenko’s comments at him on national TV again and again gives me even more respect for the young man. Lysacek should have been on NBC celebrating his gold medal win, not responding to a bunch of childish remarks by Plushenko. The fact that NBC spent so much time with Lysacek discussing Plushenko’s remarks is embarrassing. I’d say it was a bad sign from NBC, but since their coverage has been so horrible it’s not really surprising at all. Lysacek handled himself with impressive grace and poise, praising Plushenko’s skating and even defending some of Plushenko’s comments. Evan Lysacek exceeded my expectations in that area and always seemed to have the perfect response as Bob Costas went on and on about something that was so childish it should not have been given prime time coverage.

    As usual, NBC falls short of my expectations and Evan Lysacek proved that he’s not only a world class athlete. He’s also a very classy guy.

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  • I’ve had a wonderful time in Vancouver! Many of my pictures look like they could have been taken at the Summer Olympics instead of the Winter Olympics. There are many pictures of flowering trees, flowers in bloom, sailboats and rowers on the water, and the sun making everything shine. The only pictures I have of the snow are the mountains and the snow caps seem to get smaller every day. We didn’t make it up to Whistler or Cypress to see any of the sports up there. Sadly, the scalpers down here don’t seem to cover the sports on the mountains and we hadn’t pre-purchased our tickets. We did watch some of the sports live on TV, though, which is something I couldn’t have done in southern California.

    The Canadian coverage of the Olympics is a lot more thorough than the American coverage on NBC. Though they seem to have fewer channels covering the Olympics, I’m sure they have many more hours of coverage than NBC’s channels. Their channels have the Olympics airing live from the time the events start in the morning until they end. They have replays of games and events after that and unlike the US prime time coverage, they do not start with one sport, then go to another, then go back to the first sport, etc. If you want to watch ski jumping and not watch the other sports going on at that time, it’s simple – just choose the channel showing ski jumping. The only exception to this rule is when they are showing hockey games. They pick another sport airing at the same time to fill the gaps during intermission and go back to the hockey game as soon as intermission is over.

    Watching USA vs. Canada men’s ice hockey in a local pub had to be a very close second to being in Canada Hockey Place to watch the game in person. Other than the two of us in our USA hockey jerseys, there was only one other fan we could see cheering for Team USA. There was a guy wearing an American flag as a cape (the Canadian flag as a cape has been very popular almost everywhere we’ve been). He didn’t join in when we chanted “USA! USA!” However, he did cheer when the US scored.

    Everyone around us was very nice to us even though we were clearly cheering for the “wrong” team. They seemed to respect the fact that we had the guts to wear USA hockey jerseys into a Canadian bar to cheer our team on to victory. Needless to say, the trash talk from the Canadians took place a lot more before the game than during, since the US scored early to take the lead and never looked back. Canada tied the game a couple times, but never had the lead in the game.

    Vancouver has been beautiful and everyone has been very friendly and helpful. I definitely want to come back here when I’ll have more time to enjoy the city.

    I’m watching USA vs. Sweden women’s ice hockey right now from a bar with Wi-Fi and looking forward to seeing the US men’s ice hockey team continue to play well. One of the Canadians in Smiley’s (the bar we chose to watch the game) last night pointed out that Canada had the better individual players (Crosby, Getzlaf, Perry, etc.), but that USA had the better team. Since this is a team sport and not a skills competition, Team USA seems to have the advantage at the moment. Though Luongo played well in Canada’s first game, I doubt that Norway tested Canada the way the Swiss and American teams did. I’m not sure the TSN media analysis of Canada’s position in the Olympic standings being Brodeur’s fault is fair. Though I haven’t seen Canada vs. Norway yet and I did see a couple glaringly obvious mistakes by Brodeur in last night’s game against Team USA, it’s not like Canada lost 10-8. They only scored 3 goals. I don’t see how they can blame the game entirely on Brodeur when they weren’t scoring very much.

    The rest of the Olympic hockey tournament should be very interesting. Perhaps thinking Team USA had a chance in men’s ice hockey wasn’t such a crazy thought after all. ;-)

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  • This is my first trip to the Olympics where the Olympics are my main goal and the only reason for being here. I’d only attended one Olympic event before (gymnastics in the Barcelona 1992 Olympics). Now that I’ve been to a few events, I can say without a doubt that the 2012 Olympics in London (which I’d already planned to attend with friends) will not be my last. My friend, travel companion, and organizer of this great trip, Stacy, said once you attend one Olympics it’s addictive and you want to go back. I’ve only been to three events so far and I couldn’t agree more.

    Our first event was the Russia vs. Latvia men’s ice hockey game at Canada Hockey Place (GM Place). We were in the 4th row, near the corner. Typically a bit close to be my ideal hockey seat, but they were great for my first Winter Olympic event. The crowd was amazing and the game was fun to watch, though the Russians were definitely in a different class than the Latvia team. With Alexander Ovechkin, Evgeni Malkin, Pavel Datsyuk, and the other amazing Russian players, Russia was expected to dominate the game and didn’t disappoint the spectators. At that point, it still looked like Canada was the best team in the Olympics this year. At this point, it really doesn’t seem that way. They just barely beat Switzerland in a shootout (a team the US beat by two goals in regulation). Sunday’s USA vs. Canada game is definitely going to be interesting and I can’t imagine many people in Canada paying attention to anything else. I feel sorry for the other sports going on at that time. There aren’t a lot of events going on at the time, but there are events that end right before the game or shortly after it starts that will make things tight for some of the spectators and athletes who want to find a place to watch the game.

    My hockey thoughts can be found at HockeyBuzz. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my Olympic experience so far. I’ve seen two hockey games including Alexander Ovechkin’s 1st Olympic game (and first couple goals), Evgeni Malkin’s 1st Olympic goal (& game), Team USA’s 6-1 win over Norway, and much more.

    Our second day in Vancouver, we spent most of the morning getting to the curling matches we attended. Neither of us had ever seen curling in person before and it was a lot of fun. The US vs. Switzerland match was very exciting. It went to an extra end, so we got to see overtime in our very first curling match. Denmark and Germany also had a very close match. The other matches ended before they got to the 10th end, since the one team knew they were too far behind to tie it up.

    The woman who sat next to us at curling is Canadian and was a wealth of information on curling. It was really great to talk to her about the sport, since she’s played it before and is a big fan of curling. Every time we had an odd question (like about how they smooth out the ice, which apparently was the wrong question, since the ice surface isn’t actually smooth like hockey ice), she had the answer. This is part of the fun of the Olympic games. Wherever you go, there are fans who love the sport and the Olympics. You may not be rooting for the same team, but everyone seems to have a deep respect for good competition and those who are willing to support their team (say, by wearing Team USA hockey jerseys). On our way out of the Canada Hockey Place in our USA hockey jerseys (along with many others in USA hockey jerseys), the Canadians heading inside for their game were chanting for Canada and we chanted back for USA. It was very similar to the spontaneous shouting I heard on the streets in New York City during the Subway Series in 2000.

    We don’t have internet access in our room, which we hadn’t anticipated at all, but other than that our trip has been completely perfect. There have been fireworks we can see off our balcony every night (if we’re back in time, which we haven’t always been).

    The coverage of the Olympics here has been amazing and it’s great to watch from another perspective. The Canadian media doesn’t seem as Canadian-centered as the NBC coverage is American-centered, but perhaps if we were recording everything possible on a DVR here, we’d see that it is a lot more Canadian coverage. I liked that TSN had a special on Shaun White. Another great thing the competing media do here is tell you what’s airing on every other channel showing the Olympics. NBC doesn’t do that in their broadcasts and they actually own every channel airing the Olympics in the US. Coverage has been live here – even for things like figure skating, which NBC airs on a delay for the west coast. Canada’s coverage seems to be less east coast centered. They realize that there are people no the west coast who would like to see events as they happen.

    There are some amazing commercials here relating to the Olympics. Chevrolet (which many know is not a car I’d typically plug) has a great series of ads where the cars talk to each other about the Olympics, taking athletes to and from the games, etc. Coke also has a great commercial talking about how hockey is Canada’s game. RBC has a series of commercials with various sports. Visa has a funny gravity commercial that’s related to the Olympics. I’m sure they’re available online and I suggest checking them out.

    The cauldron was surprisingly difficult to locate – especially given the fact that Stacy and I had both noted that it was by the Convention Center. We tried to find it after the Russia/Latvia hockey game, but didn’t go quite far enough. Fortunately, when the ramp that gives you the perfect unobstructed view was open, they also had people telling you where to go. The only sign we saw for the cauldron was located close enough to the cauldron that you could see the cauldron well before anyone with binoculars could see the sign. However, if you’re going to the Olympic Cauldron I can definitely say the wait (we waited 20-25 minutes) is worth it for the ramp. Wait a little while and enjoy the best view of the cauldron. We got some amazing pictures there.

    Everyone here (volunteers for the Olympics and just average Canadians) has been amazingly friendly and helpful. The events have been well organized (especially with start times so close to the end of the previous games). Signage (with the obvious exception of the Olympic Cauldron) is very well done and there are maps in many locations.

    Getting tickets for events on the mountains seems to be a bit more difficult than we’d anticipated and shuttles to get up there are a bit difficult to organize when you have no internet access (we were supposed to, but do not and both of our phone carriers charge too much for us to bother using the internet on our phones) is a bit difficult.

    My only complaint about the Olympics here in Vancouver would be that the free Wi-Fi access that has been advertised widely about the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics does exist. However, it is not connected to the internet. That means even though Stacy has an iPhone and I have a Centro (both Wi-Fi capable), we could not get to the internet from the Olympic venues. We talked to quite a few people at the various events who were similarly disappointed. If they hadn’t advertised the free Wi-Fi access, I wouldn’t have a problem with the Wi-Fi they have not being connected to the internet, but what good is Wi-Fi without internet access?

    The weather here has been amazing and it’s still beautiful, sunny, and fairly warm. We’re enjoying seeing as much of Vancouver as possible, though Vancouver is a gorgeous city and I’d love to come back here when the Olympics aren’t in town so I can check out more of the city and mountains.

    GO USA!

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  • Normally in sports when I think of Alexander the Great, I have to admit that I think of Alex Ovechkin. This time around, though, it’s for Alexandre Bilodeau of Canada. Bilodeau is the first Canadian to win a gold medal on Canadian soil and though I’m very pro USA (being born and raised here) for the Olympics, I’m thrilled that he was able to accomplish this goal and to please everyone in Canada. When I heard NBC mentioning that Canada had never won a gold medal in a home Olympics before (having hosted two previous Olympic Games), I was stunned.

    The excitement on everyone’s faces as Bilodeau won the gold medal for Men’s Moguls was amazing to watch and must have been great to experience in person. I’m so happy for everyone who was able to attend that event (and the medal ceremony I just got to watch, since prime time is delayed 3 hours on the west coast). Everyone they showed in the audience for the medal ceremony looked very proud to be singing their national anthem at a medal ceremony at home. I’m sure like many great moments in sports history many people who weren’t there will say they were present, but those who really got to experience those moments in person will surely never forget them.

    Congratulations to the Canadian Alexandre the Great! He managed to take the lead and win the first gold medal for Canada at home. This surely takes some of the pressure off of the other Canadian Olympians, though I’m sure the men’s ice hockey team still feels a great deal of pressure to win gold.

    As a side note, I’m no happier with the skating rules that allow someone who falls to win a medal (which happened in Torino) than I was when it happened in Torino. Ice skating and gymnastics just are not the same since they messed with the scoring.

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  • I’m not saying that Dustin Brown (husband and father of two), Jon Quick (who had been sick and probably wouldn’t have made it to the Opening Ceremonies even if he’d already planned it), Drew Doughty, Michal Handzus, or any of the other players who could have attended the Opening Ceremonies and didn’t have the wrong attitude about the Olympics and I’m not saying that they should have been at the Opening Ceremonies. I guess Jack Johnson just seems to be having more fun with the experience than the other guys. Maybe it’s just that (like me) Jack is really into the Olympics in general and would be watching as much as possible if he wasn’t there. I didn’t ask him that one.

    When asked about traveling to Vancouver and back in a short time period (and with a more difficult travel schedule than normal, since he couldn’t get one of the direct flights from LAX to Vancouver), he said “Well, it’s the Opening Ceremonies… I think it’s a no brainer… I had the opportunity. Why waste it? It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity. If I’m fortunate enough to play in the next one, it’s in Russia, I can’t just go over and back.” At the end of this, he brings up a very good point, which I asked him about later. Most of the NHL Olympians couldn’t attend the Opening Ceremonies even if they were as interested in doing so as Jack Johnson. They either had games or were on the wrong side of the country (which is true of most NHL teams). This is why I think the NHLPA should go for broke if they end up managing to allow their players to play in the Olympics going forward and get a break that would allow every NHL player to attend the Opening Ceremonies in Russia if they so choose. I think it should be the players’ choice and Jack Johnson (who did take advantage of his opportunity to attend the Opening Ceremonies) agrees. He described the Opening Ceremonies as the “coolest experience I’ve ever had in my life – something I’ll never forget,” so it’s not surprising he thinks the other NHL players in the Olympics should have the same opportunity he had in the future.

    He’s planning to meet as many of his fellow Olympians as possible in the Olympic Village and attend as many other events as he can. I’m not sure how much free time he’ll have, since I know from the experience of John Speraw (assistant men’s volleyball coach for the gold medal winning men’s volleyball team in China) that they didn’t get much free time with all the games they played and practices, but I hope Johnson has enough free time to enjoy a few other events while he’s in Vancouver.

    Hockey fans everywhere should be happy to hear that when I asked him about the coolest experience he’s had meeting a fellow Olympian so far and who he’s had a chance to meet in his brief time with his fellow American Olympians, Johnson said, “I got to meet Shaun White. He came up and asked me to take a picture with him, which I thought was pretty cool.” He went on to say that he’d met a couple of speed skaters, bobsleders, figure skaters, and that he wants to meet as many other athletes as possible and cheer them on, since that’s part of the Olympic experience and that he knew many of the other members of Team USA would be cheering on Team USA’s ice hockey team.

    As a side note, Canada’s women’s ice hockey team makes a good argument for the mercy rule in international ice hockey competition with an 18-0 win over Slovakia. Talk about total domination. I’m looking forward to seeing their other games and hope most of them are a bit more interesting.

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  • The death of Georgian luge athlete Nodar Kumaritashvili is tragic and a horrible thing to happen – especially when it was the main news on the day of the Opening Ceremonies and happened before the ceremonies took place. I understand why tonight’s NBC broadcast (and probably many around the world) started by mentioning the tragic event from earlier today. In spite of the warning (I’m glad NBC threw that in, I had no desire to see what I’d already seen described), I don’t think it was appropriate to start the broadcast with video of the tragic death. The Olympics Opening Ceremonies are watched by people of all ages and I think the video of the death could have been shown tomorrow and only made available online initially. I’m sure many disagree and were glad they got to see the video of the tragic death in HD on the opening night of the Olympics, but I wish NBC had handled the situation differently.

    I was very disappointed with NBC’s coverage of the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing and I’m hopeful that this year’s coverage of the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver will be much better. I know a lot of people on the west coast who still believe we will get live coverage of the 2010 Olympic Games (which we did not in the Beijing games even when the east was able to watch Michael Phelps win gold again and again live). I don’t know why they believe this will happen, since the Olympics are taking place in the same time zone. I doubt it happened in 1984 when the Summer Olympics were in Los Angeles. I didn’t live here at the time, but I know how coverage has been more recently and I doubt it happened. Those of us on the west coast don’t get the Oscars live even though they take place in Los Angeles. Why would NBC allow us to watch any Olympics live? Like all other sports broadcasting in the United States, the NBC Olympics will most likely be very east coast centered. The Opening Ceremonies started at 7:30 pm here. They started at 7:30pm on the east coast. So, unless those on the west coast have DirecTV or Dish with the east coast NBC channels, they will not be able to see the Olympics live. Those on the east coast finished watching the Olympics Opening Ceremonies live not long after those of us on the west coast could start watching them if we wanted to watch them live. My plan had been to sign up for the east coast channels for the Olympics from now on so I could watch the broadcasts earlier (though still not live), but I can’t get DirecTV, so that’s not possible. I’ll be at the Olympics in less than a week, though, so it wouldn’t have made sense to pay extra money for a week’s worth of advantage anyway.

    NBC definitely did a lot right in tonight’s broadcast. One of the best things was that they interviewed a lot of athletes from different sports. They didn’t just interview those from the sports that are most popular. They interviewed a variety of Olympians. They even interviewed Jack Johnson, the only American NHL player at the Opening Ceremonies. I did think it was bad that the reporter insisted on making Jack say who he thought would light the flame for the Olympic Games to begin. Most of us thought it would be Wayne Gretzky (and although I it hasn’t gotten to that point as I type this in the west coast broadcast, I could easily find out if we’re all correct online). Not surprisingly, Johnson’s answer when pressed was, “I’ll go with Gretzky – seems like the safe bet.” He realized resisting the reporter was futile and gave the answer we’d all expect from almost anyone asked that question. The interviews might not have been very good, but at least they chose a variety of Olympic sports and not just a couple people everyone in the country recognizes already.

    The Opening Ceremonies also gave us our first North American TV coverage of former NHL star Jaromir Jagr (who won two Stanley Cups with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 91 & 92, his first two seasons in the NHL) in quite a while. Clearly, he’ll be prominent in the Czech Republic’s men’s ice hockey team competition later in the Olympics. Initially, a couple of the flag bearers surprised me, and then I remembered that most of the NHL players were not as lucky as Jack Johnson and couldn’t attend the Opening Ceremonies even if they really wanted to do so. Johnson had the advantage of being on the west coast, not having a game that night or the next afternoon, being allowed to skip a practice, etc. I don’t think getting to attend the Opening Ceremonies should be something NHL players typically can’t do. If the NHLPA is able to keep Olympic participation in their contract, I think they should get an Olympic break that covers Opening Ceremonies through Closing Ceremonies. Part of the reason Jack Johnson of the LA Kings was the first American NHL player to attend the Opening Ceremonies is that he’s one of the only NHL players who would have the chance. Since NHL teams are not likely to allow players to skip games to attend the ceremony, the NHL schedule eliminates the possibility to attend for most NHL Olympians. I think they should all be able to do what Jack has decided to do and take in as much of the Olympics as possible if that’s what they’d like. Normally, the Olympics are too far away and one couldn’t fly to them and get back in time for a morning skate the next day. I realize that a lot of Olympians from all sports (winter and summer) choose not to attend because of early competitions the next day, training, or even because they’re not interested in the long ordeal of the Opening Ceremonies. I think the NHL players should also have a choice. I know they’re not leaving for NHL games, but they are playing the same sport they play in the NHL and getting a lot of completely free (to the NHL) advertising for the NHL. I’d think the NHL would want as much national coverage as they can get.

    My best friend doesn’t follow the NHL (other than what he hears through me on a regular basis) and he isn’t a huge fan of sports outside the Olympics, but he noticed that they interviewed Jack Johnson during the Opening Ceremonies and immediately thought of me, since he knew Johnson was an NHL player. National TV coverage is something that’s good for any sport. If the NHL is trying to expand their audience, why not advertise on one of the biggest world stages available for a bit longer? Allowing the players to all attend the Opening Ceremonies (if they’d like) would give the NHL more national exposure. The Kings have gotten a lot more national coverage this year than they normally do, since they’ve been doing well and have been mentioned on the NHL Network a lot more. In spite of that coverage, more people in the United States saw Jack Johnson’s interview than would ever see anything on the NHL Network or Versus. I think the NHL should break earlier for the Olympics and encourage their players to enjoy the whole Olympic experience if they’d like.

    I think the graphics when the countries were entering were well done. I liked how they showed where each country can be found on a world map starting out at the United States was. It was a neat touch and a good graphic concept that was also well executed. The way they listed the upcoming countries was okay, but I think that the bottom bar graphic could have been a lot smaller. There was no need for it to take up almost ¼ of the height in the HD broadcast.

    I think all the projection design of the Opening Ceremonies was amazing. I think they did a better job than China with the visuals for the projection. The opening with the ice breaking apart was so well choreographed. I’m sure that those acting in that segment could barely (if at all) see the icebergs breaking apart below them on the screen due to the lighting on them. I can’t imagine how many hours that took to coordinate. The one guy even “swam” for a while and then grabbed on to another iceberg. I thought that was amazing. My favorite part of the Opening Ceremonies came not long after that section – the whales. I don’t know how they did it, but the whales looked like they were breaking through the plane of the screen with the other whales. I still have the Opening Ceremonies on my DVR and have already watched the ice breaking, whales, etc. a second time. I’m sure that won’t be the last.

    Some of the segments I really liked (like the step dancing with the leaves, the running then flying through the fields, etc.) were great initially, but seemed to go on a bit long.

    Everyone knew Wayne Gretzky would be the one lighting the flame. What we didn’t know was that for the main part of the ceremony he would be joined by basketball player Steve Nash, skier Nancy Greene, and speed skater Catriona LeMay Doan. I thought that was a wonderful touch and a great surprise. The technical difficulty was unfortunate and it was clear those about to light the flame didn’t know what to do and were wondering what was going on like the rest of us. I think the torch lighting was still pretty well done. The extra two and a half minutes seemed like an eternity. I understand the awkward looks on the faces of everyone as the ceremony came to an unexpected stand still, but Gretzky had to know there were a ton of cameras on him throughout the ride to the outside flame location. Couldn’t he have pretended to look excited about being the one to light the other flame? I was very surprised that he didn’t look happy to be a part of something so amazing.

    As usual, I don’t think that the Opening Ceremonies should have sports guys announcing the events. They don’t seem to study their media guides enough, since they often aren’t able to name the Olympians in the close-ups. I think they need people who are used to doing parades or heck, just any really huge Olympic fans who will study their guides. They do not need to be sports or news people. They need to be people who can help the audience with some of the things they might not know from time to time and who will be quiet and allow the home audience to fully enjoy and appreciate most of the Olympic Opening Ceremonies. NBC never seems to get this part right. I hope NBC will air some events live on the west coast (especially the bronze and gold medal hockey matches), but if the NBC site is accurate that will not be the case. The gold medal match is listed on the Official Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics site as being at 12:15pm on February 28th. NBC lists the game airing at 3pm on NBC in Los Angeles. Some people will not avoid the news of the gold medal game and enjoying a game when you already know the outcome is a lot more difficult. Why is it so impossible to allow everyone across the country to watch a major event (like a gold medal match in the Olympics) live?

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