CBS captures both sides of Kerrigan, nice on ice and not so nice


February 26, 1994|By RAY FRAGER

Nancy Kerrigan beamed. Oksana Baiul bawled. And Tonya Harding took a big wad of gum out of her mouth.

So went the Olympic women's figure skating finals last night on CBS.

Kerrigan took the ice at 10:38, the same time as on Wednesday. It was good enough for huge ratings that night, CBS must have figured, so let's do it again.

Kerrigan skated a fabulous program, and announcers Scott Hamilton and Verne Lundquist gushed.

"She's grown so much as a skater, an athlete and a person this year," Hamilton said.

After Kerrigan turned a scheduled triple flip into a double, Hamilton said: "If I know Nancy, she's going to fight for every element."

After her routine, Lundquist said: "[She] has seized the moment and made it her own."

dTC But then Baiul went out and made the gold medal her own. Perhaps the most astonishing part of her performance was to see her afterward, dissolved into tears and with the awed, wide-eyed look of someone even younger than her 16 years.

Let's not lose sight of what this competition was about, though. Shortly after Kerrigan and Baiul skated, it was time for a commercial. And there was Kerrigan, on the ice in her same long-program outfit, skating with Mickey Mouse. "Nancy Kerrigan, you've won the hearts of the world," she was told. So what else is a gal to do except go to Disney World?

Earlier, maybe Hamilton and Lundquist were trying to be totally objective about Harding. Or maybe they weren't.

L In any case, the resentment crept through in their comments.

CBS' cameras outside the rink (Hallway Cam?) caught Harding having trouble getting her skates laced when it was time to come out for her long program.

(As Harding later told CBS' Tracy Wilson -- after first carefully extricating that gum from her mouth and tossing it -- she had broken a lace and couldn't find one long enough to replace it.)

Hamilton said: "Things like this just don't happen," adding that a skater should go ahead and perform anyway at that point.

When officials allowed Harding to be moved back to last in her group, Hamilton expressed concern over how it would affect the skater scheduled to follow Harding, Canada's Josee Chouinard, who went out ahead of time.

Lundquist twice said Harding had been "granted the privilege" of a reskate and said that Harding "took her time" getting on the ice.

When it came to Harding's program, Hamilton was more objective.

Finally, at the end of the night, we saw a different side of Our Nancy. Kerrigan and bronze medalist Chen Lu were seen waiting for Baiul so that the medal ceremony could begin, they mistakenly believed the delay was because Baiul was putting on fresh makeup.

Kerrigan was heard saying: "So, she's going to get out here and cry again."

That's not quite a warm and fuzzy comment. But warm and fuzzy don't get you Olympic medals.

On need-to-know basis

CBS last night presented the story of the most reprehensible behavior at the Games, and it had nothing to do with figure skating.

The mother of Uzbekistan's Lina Cherjazova, gold medalist in the women's freestyle skiing aerials, died three weeks ago.

Her country's Olympic committee kept the news from Cherjazova, CBS said.

How did she find out? When she called home after Thursday's victory.

Numbers game

Thursday night's CBS prime-time Olympic coverage drew a 23.1 rating and 34 share, up 50 percent from the second Thursday during the 1992 Albertville Games.

With Wednesday's boffo box office from the women's figure skating competition, CBS' 13-night average is at 27.1/34.

Can you believe CBS guaranteed advertisers only an 18.6 rating?

Ratings measure the percentage -- hold it, hold it. My shoelace is untied. Can I start over? Thanks.

Ratings measure the percentage of television households watching a program.

Shares measure the percentage among homes where television is in use.

There, was that good enough for the Ukrainian judge?

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