Winter Olympics Coverage: Night #1, and Post-Action Openings

A Post By: Michael Gallo

My 2014 Winter Olympics experience started with an infected, pus-filled eye. This came thanks to Bob Costas, who prefaced his entire broadcast Thursday night with a detailed description of why he was sporting a Stuart Scott lazy eye. I can’t really think of a stranger way to start an international competition on the scale of the Winter Olympics.

Oh wait, yes I can.

You can put actual events and competitions before the Opening Ceremony. This format led to some general confusion, and an uncomfortable feeling, like I was cheating on the Olympics.

And maybe the worst part is the fact that the Winter Olympics didn’t exactly start with a bang. After Bob Costas’s eye infection confession, the coverage went to some super boring, mundane women’s slopestyle competition. I don’t want to sound misogynistic, but women suck at sports.

During the broadcast, NBC showed a commercial for a new show coming out this winter called Growing up Fisher. It’s about a family with a blind father. When Hollywood makes fun of sitcoms, they come up with plots like that.

Through several rounds of slopestyle, mogul skiing, and figure skating, Bob Costas and the rest of the NBC crew brought up the Russian Trifecta. The components of the Russian Trifecta are: the anti-gay propaganda laws, President Putin, and terrorism. If you ever find yourself bored during the Winter Olympics (nearly impossible), then I suggest playing a drinking game where you take a shot any time one piece of the Russian Trifecta is mentioned. You have to finish the entire bottle if they bring up Pussy Riot, since they essentially touch on all three parts of the Trifecta.

In about an hour of television time, NBC brought up the anti-gay laws, and potential terrorist threats no fewer than 36 times. It was incredible, and quite frankly, skillful how they were able to squeeze the buzzwords in there.

The irony of Bob Costas interviewing an old Soviet spokesperson on the anti-gay propaganda laws, and then cutting to a grown man figure skating in a sparkly, low-cut leotard…was priceless.

Friday night, millions of people tuned in to watch the Opening Ceremony. Rumors were easy to come by. NBC was telling anyone who would listen that the rehearsals were spectacular, and that the stadium the ceremony was being performed in, cost a lot of money, and was only built for the opening and closing ceremonies.

The opening ceremony itself was bizarre and slow. Russia made the easy mistake of featuring a plethora of images and actors that literally only a Russian would recognize. To a certain degree that makes sense, but the Olympics are also about global unity and international cooperation. I think they probably should have spent a little more time making sure a single person OUTSIDE of Russia would be able to recognize just ONE element of the opening ceremony. London’s opening ceremony featured lots of British actors and images, but someone like James Bond is also known on an international level. The Soviet Union wasn’t exactly known for being open and reaching out to an international audience, so maybe you should explain a few things. It didn’t help that the NBC crew had a Russian correspondent in the booth with them discussing multiple details about the show, not with helpful facts, but with comments like “I remember that from my childhood….”

Oh yeah? Fantastic, that’s not helping me, you jerk. The only symbols that smacked me in the face were the sickle and hammer. Shocking, I know.

It didn’t help that my father was in the room, yelling at the TV and questioning why every political atrocity that Russia was responsible for, wasn’t being featured in the ceremony. You’re right Dad, the next time the US hosts; I bet they will have a dance routine during the opening ceremony featuring dancing Gitmo prisoners.

All in all, the opening ceremony fit the bill. It was bizarre, surreal, and confusing. And that’s what an opening ceremony should be. Maybe it was a little boring, and maybe it did go on for about an hour too long, but Russia has a lot of history. A history that probably could have been spiced up a bit.

However, the Russian alphabet bit played like an LSD flashback.

Oh, and one more thing: during the Parade of Nations, it seemed like a pretty high amount of people are representing some bogus countries. If you have lived and trained in the US for 24 of your 25 years, then you should have a pretty damn difficult time representing the British Virgin Islands (where you lived for a year). I mean for God’s sake, someone got to represent a country because he donated a lot of money to them. Seriously?

I guess these are the things we should come to expect from what will most likely be one of the strangest Olympic experiences of all time.

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