NEW YORK, N.Y. – Highlights from media coverage of the Pyeongchang Olympics:
WARDROBE MALFUNCTION: Gabriella Papadakis took no chances. Her ice dancing costume on Tuesday contained no hooks, nothing that could come undone as it did a day earlier in the Olympics’ most famous wardrobe malfunction. The French athlete and partner Guillaume Cizeron completed a lovely, lyrical free skate to win a silver medal behind the Canadian team of Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, but it was hard not to see in their faces the belief that the faulty costume had cost them gold. NBC analyst Tanith White said she was “sitting here grabbing my chest feeling my heart pound” after their performance. White, however, punted when the time came to give her opinion on the deserving winner. “It’s making me sweat, just the idea of having to choose between the Canadian and the French, but most important, they were both exceptional,” she said. True, it was tough. But that’s her job.
WARDROBE MALFUNCTION, PART TWO: After two wardrobe malfunctions on the ice, it was hard to watch Canadian Kaitlyn Weaver’s ice dancing routine without focusing on a loose red strap that kept falling down her arm. Apparently it was part of the costume.
TUMBLE: NBC analyst Luke Van Valin built up the tension as defending American gold medallist Maddie Bowman skied through her final run in the freestyle halfpipe, noting as she was in the air that Bowman had reached the point where she wiped out in her first two runs. Then it happened again. Van Valin and partner Trace Worthington wisely stayed quiet as the camera bore witness to Bowman sobbing in the snow, recognizing the moment as a metaphor for the U.S. team’s rough showing in Pyeongchang. It was a welcome example of Van Valin stepping out of a world in which he’s too comfortable. He tends to get lost in numbers describing various moves, and “amplitude” is clearly his favourite word. We were stunned, however, to hear him talking about an earlier conversation with a judge about what they needed to see in a routine by American Brita Sigourney. Extraordinary reporting. But are Olympic judges supposed to be that forthcoming about a competition that hasn’t been completed yet?
I’M SO EXCITED: A tie for bobsled gold! OMG OMG OMG! We thought NBC’s Leigh Diffey would blow a gasket when a Canadian team hit the same 3 minutes, 16.86 second winning time as a pair of Germans. Darned if he can’t pull history out of thin air. “It’s a tie!” Diffey said. “The last time Canada won a gold medal it was a tie as well. History repeats!” Not off your couch and cheering yet? “The Olympic sliding centre has seen some amazing things these games but nothing like this!”
TWEET OF THE NIGHT: “So great that @leighdiffey and @JohnMorgan7 can make almost every bobsled run sound like a walk-off home run in Game 7 of the World Series.”
RUSSIAN TROUBLE: NBC doesn’t have a great track record of talking about uncomfortable Olympic stories that are making news elsewhere, like the sexual misconduct accusations against Shaun White or Shani Davis’ unhappiness at not being a flagbearer. So it should be noted that the network addressed, in prime time and elsewhere, the doping charge against a Russian curler.
RATINGS: It was a comparatively slow Sunday for Olympic content, with an average of 18.2 million watching on NBC, NBCSN or through streaming services in prime time. That’s down 15 per cent from Sochi four years ago; the NBC-only telecast was down 23 per cent. Saturday was the least-watched night of the Olympics so far, with 16.1 million viewers on NBC, NBCSN and streaming services, although that was down only 6 per cent from Sochi. Viewership has largely exceeded expectations for the first half of the Olympics, but interest tends to dwindle in the second week.
LAST LAUGH: NBC baffled some viewers Sunday by showing extended coverage of meaningless training runs by downhill skiers. The Nielsen company gave a window into NBC’s thinking: The night’s viewership peaked at 20.7 million when America’s skiing sweethearts, Lindsey Vonn and Mikaela Shiffrin, were on the mountain. So no one should have been surprised to see yet another Vonn practice run on Monday’s telecast.
More AP Olympic coverage: https://wintergames.ap.org