Announcers' cutting remarks on Harding slice objectivity to shreds


February 26, 1994|By RAY FRAGER

Maybe CBS' figure skating announcers were trying to be totally objective to Tonya Harding. Or maybe they weren't.

In any case, the resentment crept through in the comments from Verne Lundquist and Scott Hamilton last night.

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

(As Harding later told CBS' Tracy Wilson, she had broken a lace and couldn't find one that fit.)

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.

"I'm sure she was severely affected by what happened to Tonya Harding," Hamilton said.

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

Hamilton later added: "This is so rare in skating. It never happens. But it's the fourth time it's happened to Tonya."

When it came to Harding's program, Hamilton was more objective, just doing his job in pointing out mistakes and achievements.

Still bumping

Cathy Turner didn't exactly extend an olive branch to Zhang Yanmel after the Chinese speed skater protested Turner's victory Thursday, which included some contact between the two. Zhang tossed her congratulatory bouquet after the medal ceremony and wouldn't shake Turner's hand.

Last night, CBS had Turner saying: "It was the worst display of poor sportsmanship I've ever seen. She should have her medal taken away."

Ah, Zhang might have tossed the olive branch, too.

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?

The real thing

I was thinking the other night that the polar bears who go down a luge run and off a ski jump in the Coke commercials weren't seen marching in the opening ceremonies. And then I realized, of course, I wouldn't have seen them. Because the bears are white, they blended in.

I keek a touchdown

Now I know why those European place-kickers always wore helmets with one bar for a face mask. That's the kind of helmets some of the skiers wear during slalom competition.

Looking ahead

Bonnie Blair drops by the CBS studio this afternoon (1-6, channels 11, 9), which also includes short-track speed skating coverage. Maybe Blair can explain the short-track rules. Is Mace allowed or what?

By far, the best part of tonight's show (7-11) will be the figure skating exhibition. Women's champion Oksana Baiul may have to go before Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean. Baiul is only 16, so she's not old enough to watch T&D's "Bolero."

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