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Calling Chen’s triumph, and an ill-advised question from NBC


    Nathan Chen of the United States reacts following his performance during the men’s free figure skating final in the Gangneung Ice Arena at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Gangneung, South Korea.

NEW YORK >> Highlights from media coverage of the Pyeongchang Olympics:

CHEN’S TRIUMPH: Tara Lipinski and Johnny Weir brought an edge-of-your-seat enthusiasm to their call of American skater Nathan Chen’s triumphant performance on Friday night’s telecast. “Are you kidding me?” Lipinski exclaimed while Chen was in the midst of a record six quad jumps. “This is about who he is as a person and the depth of character that Nathan Chen has,” Weir said. His score backed them up. Lipinski and Weir’s narration felt honest, and not like home-team boosterism because they hadn’t pulled punches describing Chen’s poor routines earlier in the Olympics.

CHEAP EMOTION: With the second part of a two-question interview of American aerialist Madison Olsen, NBC’s Kelli Stavast brought up Olsen’s father, who died last August. “You have so many friends and family here supporting you except, of course, for your dad, Tom. What do you think he would be saying to you if he was here?” Stavast asked. Yes, it was intrusive. It also was useless. What do you really hope to elicit with a question like that, other than tears? Mission accomplished. The exchange was reminiscent of NBC’s Christin Cooper bringing skier Bode Miller to tears in 2014 for questioning him after a race about his dead brother. Miller, now an NBC ski commentator, later urged critics to cut Cooper some slack.

TAKE THAT, BODE: Yes, the Anna Veith who won silver in the super-G is the same Anna Veith that Miller had cited in suggesting marriage could be hazardous to a female skier’s career .

VONN’S SLIP: Lindsey Vonn seemed to know she had blown her chance at winning a medal in the slalom before Miller and partner Dan Hicks did. She clutched her helmet in agony then howled at the gods after the race. It’s not that Hicks and Miller didn’t notice Vonn’s out-of-control skid as she neared the end of the course. But Vonn knew it was fatal.

RATINGS: NBC had its roughest night of the Olympics so far. The 19.3 million people who watched the games on NBC, NBCSN or streaming services in prime time on Thursday was down 16 percent from NBC’s 22.9 million viewers in Sochi four years ago. On NBC alone, the viewership of 16.2 million represented a 29 percent drop, the Nielsen company said. It hurt that the night’s two most anticipated (and ultimately disappointing) performances — Mikaela Shiffrin’s second slalom run and Nathan Chen’s short program skate — happened around midnight on the East Coast. NBCSN, which aired the entirety of the skating program, had its biggest audience of the Olympics with 2.75 million.

GOLD ZONE:’s “Gold Zone” is a highlight show that gives a solid overview of the previous day’s best performances, with a few twists. Friday’s show, for example, showed Yun Sung-Bin’s gold medal-winning skeleton run as it was called on South Korean television (they were a little excited). For medal ceremony junkies, it caps the highlights with the winners getting their due. “Gold Zone” streams at noon Eastern each day, timed for people in offices to watch during lunch. They might want to consider a more compact version for people without the luxury of a two-hour lunch break.

THE WAIT: NBC’s Joey Cheek says one of the most agonizing things about speedskating is recording a fast time early, then having to wait and watch rivals take a shot at it. That’s true in other events, too. Because cameras are watching, it raises an etiquette question: How do you react to a competitor’s misfortune when it’s good for you? Nikita Tregubov of Russia, bronze medalist in men’s skeleton, set a bad example. He leaped, thrust his fist in the air and shouted for joy as Latvia’s Martins Dukurs sat with his head in his hands after learning he finished a tenth of a second behind Tregubov.

QUOTE: “That performance is what angel’s breath looks like.” — NBC’s Weir — really, who else could it be? — describing the men’s short-form figure skate of Japan’s Yuzuru Hanyu.

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