Straight talk on luge curves, hockey teams and ho-hummers LILLEHAMMER '94

February 17, 1994|By PHIL JACKMAN

After exhaustive study and endless consideration, the conviction here is that there have been so many wipeouts on curve 13 of the luge run that it should be straightened out immediately.

* How would you like to be a producer for CBS facing three hours of prime time with yesterday's Olympic schedule of women's luge, freestyle skiing (moguls), men's 1,500-meter speed skating and three hockey games involving all eastern European countries?

Oh well, the folks out there in TV land needed a break after the rush of the first few days of the Games and some high-profile events dead ahead.

Tonight, for instance, the lineup is sensational with the men's short (technical) program in figure skating, downhill gold medalist Tommy Moe back on the hills shooting for glory in the Super G and Team USA facing Canada in a must-win hockey game.

And, oh yes, Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan on the same ice.

Another advantage of a dull day is it accorded the network the opportunity to get excellent features on the legendary Norwegian skater Sonja Henie, speed skating hero Johann Olav Koss and Brian Boitano out of the can.

* Whatever happened to the tenet that you build a hockey team from the back forward, meaning the goal and defense come first?

Chances are Team USA is going to make it into the second round despite its slow start, but this is a strange time for coach Tim Taylor to get around to preaching defense. And his practice of putting five forwards out on the power play is pathetic.

* Before the Games began, TNT's Lillehammer host John Naber promised interesting interviews with athletes. We're waiting, big guy.

* To give you some idea how subjective judging is in figure skating, I had passion over perfection, St. Petersburg over Moscow, Natalia Mishkutienok and Artur Dmitriev over Ekaterina Gordeeva and Sergei Grinkov in the pairs final. Meanwhile, eight of nine judges went with the chalk.

Seriously, does pairs have to involve a male and female or could two people of the same suit compete?

* Many are suggesting that the reason for the dynamite Olympic ratings being rung up by CBS daily is a clever marketing scheme devised by the network. Bull. The frozen state of half the country seems a more apt explanation. The Tonya-Nancy thing is a given.

* One of the best things about TNT's coverage of the Games after CBS hogs all the "good" stuff is the cable provides looks at the also-ran participants. For example, in pairs figure skating, we got a chance to see the duos at the back of the pack.

With all due respect, some of the trailers looked as if they began skating together sometime last week, which causes you to more fully appreciate what it takes to make the top 10, much less a medal.

* After all those days off from school due to the ice and snow, how tough was it for the First Child Chelsea to get excused cuts from Sidwell Friends School in Washington in order to sneak off to Norway?

* Someone has to take Scott Hamilton and Peter Carruthers aside and insist that they each use just one "wow" per skating program.

* After a positively brilliant evening of pairs skating the other night, CBS affiliate Channel 11 showed the terrible header the German woman took during the sports segment of the late news. This is in keeping with only showing fights out of a hockey game, of course.

* Is CBS news anchor Dan Rather your very best, favorite, cuddly person in the world yet or is CBS going to have to keep running those promos for the CBS Evening News?

* It tells you something about the administration of amateur sports when, during the Parade of Nations, a country is said to have one or two athletes and there's a dozen people behind the flag. Officials, y'know.

* There's absolutely no truth to the rumor that Tonya Harding will sign on with Vince McMahon and the World Wrestling Federation as a latter day "Miss Elizabeth."

* As Nancy Kerrigan's coach, Evy Scotvold, was running around saying Nancy would be snubbing Harding and no pleasantries would be exchanged, they were described as semi-cordial yesterday when they came face to face. Watch, they'll end up co-hosting a talk show on CNBC.

I haven't even seen Kerrigan's long program yet and I'm giving it a 5.8 both technically and artistically. She's skating to Neil Diamond's "Jonathan Livingston Seagull."

* After years of the quirky practice of showing skaters' reaction to technical and artistic scores from the "kiss and cry" bin, an interesting show of true emotion was caught the other night when Lloyd Eisler of Canada, not looking up at the scoreboard, said of his marks, "I don't give a rat's [behind]."

* Yes, they're teammates and all, but would you fully trust the words of a mate who had just run the downhill as you stood there in the start house ready to go?

* Dave Thomas, the big man in the Wendy's operation, seems like a nice guy. He should keep it that way by quietly slipping out of the hamburger commercials.

* U.S. skier Brian Heckman, putting all he has learned since arriving in Norway together with the Tonya Harding conspiracy, says, "This Olympics is almost like a soap opera." Almost?

* While a tense hockey game between the Czech Republic and Germany was raging on TNT yesterday, a quick check of Showtime uncovered a hockey movie entitled "Rookies." At one point, the star of the show took shots at both goals, an interesting concept, eh?

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