About two thirds of the way through the interminable Opening Ceremony broadcast, Mike Tirico told the audience that the ceremony would be available the next day on the NBC sports app without commentary. I turned NBC off immediately and started to watch hockey instead.
Complaining about the broadcast is a cliche at this point, and I don’t want to belabor the point. But holy God, it wasn’t just jingoistic, it was oppressively stupid. However, I thought maybe it was just the ceremonies that would have this issue, and I promised myself to try out the regular coverage of actual sports the next morning.
I slept through the first gold medal awarded in these Games. Charlotte Kalla of Sweden outlasted Marit Bjoergen of Norway in the women’s skiathlon some time around 3 AM local time. However, I did wake up in time to catch my first live event, the men’s normal hill jump.
Ski jumping is one of those sports that sounds cooler in the abstract than in the actual execution. Watching one guy jump off the side of the mountain is thrilling, watching thirty consecutive guys do it gets a little old. You’ve seen one guy jump the length of a football field, you’ve see them all, right? Honestly, the biggest issue was high winds which kept causing long delays.
However, things started to pick up after the obligatory disappointing American when who should show up but Robert Johansson, the owner of a luxurious handlebar mustache. All of a sudden, the Poseur Clan had a rooting interest. He shattered the previous leader’s mark with a spectacular jump and wobbly landing that was just enough to tease us with total wipeout disaster. Instead. the Norwegian pulled down the jump and set the standard for the final jumpers to beat.
I quickly pulled up the international ski jumping rankings, and things looked dire for our mustachioed hero. Not only did he have to hold off four of zee Germans, but two of his own countrymen. Sitting last in the waithouse were two Poles, including the #1 jumper in the current rankings, Kamil Stoch.
Andreas Wellinger of Germany landed a jump just as long as Johansson’s 113.5 meters, but took a commanding lead thanks to a longer first jump earlier in the day. None of the final four jumpers came even close to Wellinger, as he would win by 9 points which brought up the requisite argument at Poseur HQ why on earth ski jumping is judged. But rules is rules, and it ain’t just the distance, it’s also nailing the landing.
One of the Norwegians, Johann Forfang, would pass up Johansson, but the two Polish jumpers came up short in those final two jumps of the competition, and out of the medals. Our hipster took home the bronze.
High off this excitement, I gave NBCSN’s regular coverage a try. I know it is edited and tape-delayed, but after watching a sport live, I understood the presentation could be improved by some judicious editing and some good commentary. Unfortunately, neither thing happened.
We watched the snowcross, a pretty cool event involving lots of tricks and flips while snowboarders also tried to go as fast as possible, if only to get more air. The experienced was ruined by focusing way too much on the Americans, who crashed out and were eliminated, while showing none... repeat, NONE... of the athletes who beat them. Part of the appeal of sports is competition. If you just show one team, there is no competition or frame of reference.
Even worse, NBC insists on airing a commercial once every five minutes or so. We are one day in, and I’m already sick of that damn Toyota ad. I couldn’t take it. Watching the Olympics on television was a frustrating experience that made me hate sports, TV, and America.
Within an hour, we had given up, and I was watching the replay of short track speedskating on the NBC app, which is a godsend. I highly doubt I will be back to NBC’s coverage. It is the app or nothing. Day one, and TV has already defeated me.