February 18, 2014

Olympic Viewing: Twizzles, aerials and Costas

Highlights from television coverage of the Sochi Olympics:

TWIZZLERS: For a night of theater and beauty on the ice, it was hard to imagine better performances than those provided by American dancers Meryl Davis and Charlie White and their Canadian rivals, Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, on Monday. Before the Americans began, NBC's Tom Hammond skillfully set the stage for sports fans who will never equate twizzles with home runs or jump shots. "Whether you're a fan of ice dance or not, you really have to appreciate two athletes at the top of their form," Hammond said, pointing out the pressures they faced. It was impossible for a nonexpert to tell what made one team deserving of a gold medal and the other team the silver, however, and NBC analyst Tracy Wilson never got around to explaining it.

EYE ON COSTAS: Bob Costas was back as NBC prime-time host after six days out with an eye infection, thanking subs Matt Lauer and Meredith Vieira and viewers who supported him, while apologizing for the uncomfortable distraction. His eyes looked better, though not fully healed. It was a long wait in a hotel room to get better. NBC made sure Costas was able to follow the games by having the feed of its American broadcast wired in to his Russian hotel room. He watched devotedly, with the exception of a break Saturday to watch Syracuse, his alma mater's undefeated basketball team, keep its record intact by beating North Carolina State.

UP CLOSE: NBC's Olympics chief says that criticism over reporter Christin Cooper's interview with Miller won't stop NBC from telling stories about the lives of Olympics competitors. There was an angry online backlash to the interview televised Sunday, where Cooper repeatedly asked Miller about his late brother as the skier collapsed in tears. Miller said Monday he wasn't angry at the reporter, which NBC Olympics Executive Producer Jim Bell said "ought to take some of the temperature down on it or should, anyway." In a case like that, "you'd be irresponsible not to tell that part of the story," Bell said. It's even more important with the Olympics because fewer people know the athletes involved, he said.

Text Only | Photo Reprints