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February 24, 2014

Olympic Viewing: Putin's seatmate, most tweeted

Highlights from television coverage of the Sochi Olympics:

GOOD SEAT: Smart feature Sunday by the underused Jimmy Roberts on Irina Skvordsova, a Russian woman badly hurt in a bobsled accident who sat next to Vladimir Putin during the Olympic opening ceremony. In the story, Skvordsova said she was surprised the night of the ceremony when Putin sat next to her. If true, that's a smart use of political imagery along with a kind gesture.

MIRACLE WORKER: Time for a moratorium on "Do you believe in miracles?" Actually, it's been time for a couple of decades now. No one sent Al Trautwig the memo, and he reached for the cliche at the end of an otherwise well-called 50-kilometer men's cross country race that was a podium sweep for the Russians.

CLOSING THE RING: What a keen, self-deprecatory move from Olympic organizers having dancers in the closing ceremony form the Olympic rings, with the fifth ring mimicking the much-photographed snowflake that failed to open in the opening ceremony two weeks ago. Then the dancers filled it out. "The producers have a sense of humor," Al Michaels said.

CRIS, MEET MARC: There's a risk in having a sports announcer (Michaels) and ex-football player (Cris Collinsworth) host your coverage of the closing ceremony. "Why are the houses upside down?" Collinsworth asked during one number, before commentator Vladimir Pozner gently introduced him to the work of artist Marc Chagall.

BOBBING FOR GOLD: During the four-man bobsled finals, NBC pulled out a brief film clip of a bobsled race from 1924 that illustrated how far the sport and its equipment had advanced. NBC's Leigh Diffey told how the sport got its name, from competitors bobbing their heads forward to get an extra edge. Great detail that added texture to the broadcast.

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