Highlights from television coverage of the Sochi Olympics:
SEIZING THE MOMENT: Would be fascinating to know, in today’s world, how many people already knew the result of Saturday’s thrilling hockey game between the United States and Russia before tuning in to NBC’s prime-time telecast. The network, which rarely spends much time on hockey in the evening, smartly recognized the moment and replayed the overtime and shootout at the beginning of its broadcast. Most who knew the results appreciated the chance to see it, and those who saw it once probably didn’t mind seeing it again. Good touch having Al ”Do-You-Believe-in-Miracles” Michaels and hockey play-by-play man Mike Emrick on hand to put it in immediate perspective, although it was odd to place Michaels’ interview with American star T.J. Oshie three hours later. The NBC Sports Network is airing a full rerun of the game Sunday at 4:30 p.m. ET.
TWEET CRAZY: Twitter went nuts when Oshie scored the winning goal, hitting 72,000 tweets in the minute after the game finished. That tweet-per-minute level was easily more than for any other Winter Olympics event so far, Twitter said. In a few hours, Oshie’s following jumped from 92,000 to over 193,000 by the end of the evening. Oshie’s name had been mentioned in some 136,000 tweets by noon ET, including one by President Barack Obama.
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PROFESSOR EMRICK: Math, medicine, linguistics – there seems to be nothing Emrick doesn’t know and can’t fit effortlessly into the call of a game. When the Russian crowd began chanting during the home team’s game with the U.S., Emrick quickly said that what they were saying, roughly translated, meant ”Go get the puck.” When a partner suggested that American Ryan Kesler’s hand was badly swollen barely five minutes after it was hit by the puck – even though Kesler wore a glove – Emrick cautioned, ”we won’t diagnose that.” Kesler quickly returned to the game. And when, during a break, the camera caught four Canadian hockey officials sitting in the stands who each had NHL experience, Emrick remarked, ”2,134 wins in four guys.” Wow. Does the man have a calculator implanted in his head?
WHAT HOCKEY GAME?: In Scandinavia, Saturday’s biggest event was the women’s cross-country ski relay, a thrilling race where Sweden’s Charlotte Kalla stormed from third place to win the gold medal. In Norway, the fifth place showing was a shock and cause for national mourning. NBC analyst Chad Salmela expertly put the race and surprise finish in perspective, saying he couldn’t have picked the results out of a hat.
SPACE RACE: Interesting report by Tom Brokaw on the space race between the United States and Soviet Union, completed by the veteran NBC anchor as he was undergoing cancer treatment. These looks at history add texture to Olympics broadcasts, and it’s a shame many sports fans don’t appreciate them, because this one was likely to get lost airing at the end of NBC’s daytime coverage. Here’s hoping the report finds another life elsewhere.
TWEET OF THE DAY: ”Wife says the CBC’s mod-’70s fireplace Olympic set is supposed to remind Canadians of the rec room where they lost their virginity.”
SOCHI SELFIES: Surely NBC could have found something better for Willie Geist to do than a segment on ”Sochi selfies” taken by athletes on their smartphones. He also repeated information on the medal count that Meredith Vieira had given five minutes earlier.
RATINGS: With a lackluster men’s figure skating competition Friday, NBC’s prime-time viewership was 19.2 million, the Nielsen company said. It was the first time during the Sochi Games that viewership dipped below 20 million, and was off from the 23.3 million NBC reached during the corresponding Friday in Vancouver four years ago.
UPCOMING: Ice dancers Meryl Davis and Charlie White go for gold in Sunday’s prime-time broadcast.
David Bauder can be reached at dbauder(at)ap.org or on Twitter(at)dbauder. His work can be found at http://bigstory.ap.org/content/david-bauder.