CBS' buildup helps keep it from saving Boitano's stumble for last


February 18, 1994|By RAY FRAGER

Maybe because it had been so widely reported -- including by CBS -- that Brian Boitano was going to lead off the men's figure skating short programs, CBS couldn't delay his appearance last night.

So Boitano was the first skater we saw -- and the first we saw stumble.

Afterward, he was shown a replay of his missed jump and asked to explain. Boitano said that, while he was in the air, he wasn't thinking technical thoughts (which I think was Peter Pan's secret).

"When I was going into it," Boitano said, "I was thinking, 'Land it, land it.' "

Analyst Scott Hamilton had a less psychological explanation for the stumble. Boitano was leaning backward on the jump, Hamilton said.

That's one of the things a good analyst does -- cut through the babble.

Want to rephrase that?

Ski announcer Tim Ryan noted a large contingent of German fans for the men's Super G and said, "The Germans are here in force." That's probably not a good choice of words for any event in Europe.

Bob-bob-bobbin' along

So we haven't seen goalie cam yet, but at least CBS showed off another neat point-of-view camera -- the one mounted inside the front of American Brian Shimer's bobsled.

Strung out

Thanks to CBS, we know the secret behind making hockey work on network television: shorten the games to a few minutes and play them with orchestral strings in the background.

True grit

Just when you're ready to give up on this Olympic spirit business as hopelessly idealistic and outmoded, along comes German speed skater Gunda Niemann.

CBS caught Niemann, a favorite in the 3,000 meters, falling and taking out a competitor with her. Niemann just had lost her chance to win a medal, but she checked on her fallen fellow skater, then went on to complete the race. Let's hope Tonya Harding was watching.

Numbers game

Say, if this NFL thing doesn't work out, maybe Baltimore can get the Winter Olympics. With our recent weather, a luge might have been the best way to commute on some days anyway. The ratings show that Baltimore viewers enjoy the Winter Games even more than the national average.

Wednesday night in prime time, CBS' Olympic show drew a 22.8 rating and 34 share. In Baltimore, it received 24.0/33.

The first five nights of prime time have averaged a 24.8 rating, 28 percent up from the same period during the 1992 Winter Games. Baltimore has averaged 25.9 through five nights.

The Olympics have boosted Channel 11's news ratings, too. The Sunday early evening news got a 22, 10 rating points higher than Channel 11's January average on Sundays, when it sometimes had an NFL lead-in.

And furthermore: 24.5, 67,357, -19, 0.792. Just thought you might want to see some more numbers.

(As always, local ratings courtesy of Sharon "The Ratings Maven" Walz of WBAL-TV.)

Ratings measure the percentage of television households watching a program. Shares measure the percentage among homes where television is in use. In honor of the late Jimi Hendrix, I typed those two sentences with my teeth. Let me stand next to your Olympic fire.

Looking ahead

Tonight on CBS (8-11, channels 11, 9), there's Dan Jansen's last shot, the 1,000-meter speed skating. Though just about everybody else has had a chance to chew over the story, Charles Kuralt takes his turn. His piece is supposed to include comments from Jansen's competitors, who want him finally to win Olympic gold.

Whoever it was that picked Peggy Lee's "Fever" and 10,000 Maniacs' "Because the Night" to promote the return of ice dancers Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean should get a bonus from CBS. Though the pair reportedly has toned down its act to please the judges, Torvill and Dean still should generate plenty of heat during tonight's show.

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