Vancouver Day 6: Big ratings, a big fall and dumb comments
Brian Stemmle is a very good ski analyst. The former Olympian knows his stuff, explains things in terms that non-skiers can understand and comes up with some great lines.
But what the heck was he thinking Wednesday when Sweden's Anja Paerson took a frightening fall in the women's downhill? The CTV-Rogers analyst made it sound like he was celebrating big air at the halfpipe instead of potentially serious fall.
If you didn't see it, Paerson was on pace for a medal when she somehow flew into the air like a ski jumper. Seconds after she skidded down the course after a rather hard landing, Stemmle sounded like he was having the time of his life.
``Wow!" he shouted, a chuckle in his voice. ``Unbelievable air ... Look how far she's gone in the air."
As cameras focused on a rather upset-looking Lindsey Vonn at the bottom of the course, Stemmle continued to celebrate the fall.
``That was incredible! Oh my! That was awesome. I can't believe she's even on her knees right now, even up on her feet."
At this point, announcer Gerry Dobson asked if Paerson was okay. ``That's the most important question right now," he said.
But that didn't slow down Stemmle.
``They didn't include women's ski jumping in these Olympics," he said with another chuckle. ``We just saw it right there."
He did criticize organizers for not making the gates safer, and later expressed concern when a Romanian skier took a more serious fall, but the damage was done.
Now, if anybody understands ski falls it's Stemmle, who almost died in one. So maybe he knew instinctively that Paerson wasn't seriously hurt. But viewers were left with the impression that he's a bit of a goof.
RATINGS SOAR: It's now official: Olympic fever has driven Canadians to madness, or possibly exposed us as a nation of sadists.
According to BBM Canada, an average of 6.1 million people watched Tuesday's men's hockey game between Canada and Norway. That's about the same number who watched the Super Bowl and Grey Cup.
But this was an 8-0 blowout in a game that could have sparked a Greenpeace protest. Even more amazingly, 9.1 million tuned in for the final minute. Let's hope they did so in anticipation of figure skating, not in hopes of seeing another Canadian goal.
That boosted the CTV-Rogers consortium's prime-time average to 5.7 million Tuesday, the highest of the Games.
In saner revelations, an average of 3.7 million watched Maelle Ricker's snowboard victory, an amazing number considering the event was run on a weekday afternoon.
BEST INTERVIEW: You've got to love those figure skaters, who seem to lead the Olympics in great quotes. There's American Johnny Weir and his daily missives. Then there's Russian Evgeni Plushenko, who tossed out a WWE-style slam to all competitors (that's you, Patrick Chan) who don't have quads in their programs. Here's what he had to say to CTV Tuesday: ``Without quadruple it's not, I'm sorry, it's not men's figure skating." Real men do quads, eh?
CANADIAN STARS ON NBC: There's a bit of a myth that NBC focuses solely on American athletes, but the truth is it does a better job of featuring foreigners than a lot of networks, including the Canadian ones. This time around, NBC is focusing a lot on, surprise, Canadians. You see Canadian fans, families of Canadian athletes and Canadian athletes. Tuesday night, Mary Carillo did a great feature on a figure skater. Yup, Patrick Chan. ... Canadian announcers are getting noticed, too. Pete Dougherty praised curler and NBC analyst Colleen Jones' candidness in the Albany Times Union.
GREAT STUFF: CTV opened Tuesday's prime-time show with a great tribute to hockey by Michael J. Fox, not Terry, ... It's still not as good as it could be, but CTV and family are doing a much better job of telling viewers what's on and where.
THE NOT-SO GREAT STUFF: That was some great figure skating coverage CTV squeezed in between commercials on Tiesday night. Could they have squeezed in any more? ... Shouldn't that Canada-Norway curling match included a ``do not adjust your set" warning considering what the Scandinavians were wearing. Are these guys really descended from Vikings? ... Before anybody gets too carried away with calling Jarome Iginla the reincarnation of Rocket Richard, did anybody notice it was Norway he scored three goals on?