If you feel that bronze is for baby shoes, maybe the U.S.-Czechoslovakia hockey game for the third-place medal never held much promise for you.
But the game dominated yesterday afternoon's CBS telecast, though, as the Czechoslovakians turned it into a rout, I was tempted to check out the "China Beach" episode featuring Nancy Sinatra over on Lifetime.
CBS caught the frustration of American goalie Ray LeBlanc, whose teammates were serving as checkout clerks at Shots R Us. Before the second period, we saw Le- Blanc asking to be taken out of the game, but being told by the coaching staff that he'd earned the right to stay in goal. There also were instructions and encouragement from the coaches, though with some well-placed bleeps.
CBS analyst John Davidson, not shy with an opinion throughout the Games, offered another one unlikely to endear him to the ruling class of international hockey: "I think the worst part of Olympic hockey is the refereeing."
Not so trashy: It has been belittled as a trash sport, but short-track speed skating is a keeper. Just about every race CBS showed yesterday was exciting, culminating in American Cathy Turner's skate-blade-thin victory for a gold medal. This event is like human NASCAR racing on ice.
Only PTPers need apply: Weekend co-host Andrea Joyce said she really wanted to meet Alberto Tomba, but it seems she's in the wrong time slot. Tomba reportedly gave CBS' Katarina Witt and Paula Zahn ski lessons last week. But they're on in prime time.
Speaking of Tomba, it appears that CBS never wants to stop doing so. Yesterday afternoon, the network aired another segment on the Italian skier, with lots of footage already broadcast at least once. I think I've seen Tomba water ski more than I've seen him on the slopes.
Looking ahead: This morning on CBS (9 to noon), the network carries the gold-medal hockey game between the Unified Team and Canada, picking up action live about 45 minutes after the game begins. . . . CBS comes back at 4:30-6 p.m. with a recap of the hockey tournament and Alpine skiing exhibitions. . . . During the final prime-time show of the Games (8-11), CBS plans plenty of highlights, as well as the closing ceremony, which is expected to take up about an hour of the program. . . . Also in prime time, Charles Kuralt will take a look at life in the French Alps beyond the Olympics. . . . CBS dispatched James Brown to Lillehammer for a report from the site of the next Winter Games.
Ratings game: Kristi Yamaguchi and Co. boosted CBS to a 25.0 rating and 40 share in national ratings on Friday night in prime time. In overnight ratings (measuring the top 25 markets), CBS had a 27.0, NBC 18.8 and ABC 13.4. National ratings normally are lower than overnights. A rating measures the percentage of all television households watching a program. A share measures the percentage among homes where television is in use.
Through 14 nights, CBS' prime-time average is 19.4/30, 3 percent higher than ABC's 14-night average during the 1988 Calgary Games.