And now, we uncover CBS' medals


February 28, 1994|By RAY FRAGER

The Winter Games were an energizing experience. Those pictures of snow-covered land being traversed by vigorous athletes inspired me.

Yes, I'm on my simulated cross country skiing machine that's still used by seven of 10 purchasers five years after they bought them.

I'm Bjorn Dahlie, cruising to another gold medal. I'm Vegard Ulvang, The Terminator, gliding across the Arctic Circle. I'm . . . very tired.

Let's give out some medals and recall highlights and lowlights for CBS' coverage while I see if anybody wants to buy an exercise machine.

The good as gold medal: Greg Gumbel, prime-time host. Nothing was as much a lock for the Olympics as Gumbel's turning in a fine performance anchoring CBS' telecasts. Gumbel is everything you want in a host, though, the way it worked out many nights, he was less filling.

The no need to stay up after Dave nickel medal: Pat O'Brien, late-night host. It was already freezing at the Winter Games; we didn't need another dose of cool.

The how did I get stuck with this tin medal: James Brown, freestyle skiing announcer. Brown, a solid pro, must have ticked off somebody to have been assigned aerial duty.

The good to see you again aluminum medal: Sean McDonough's hat. It brought a tear to my eye remembering the good times of Albertville when McDonough appeared at the bobsled/luge events with that same, brown hat.

The Quick Draw McGraw cobalt medal: John Morgan, bobsled analyst. Morgan packed more observations and opinions into each minute of air time than any other analyst. And he was no homer when it came to U.S. competitors.

The hire this guy full time silver medal: Al Trautwig, cross country and biathlon announcer. Trautwig was the lead man in making TC what could have been unappealing events into entertaining segments. He treated the competition seriously, but still maintained a light touch.

The triple Lutz with a cherry on top chromium medal: Scott Hamilton, figure skating analyst. He was much improved from Albertville. Hamilton generally knew when it was time to say something and when it was best not to over-analyze.

The blue-line special bronze medal: Mike Emrick and John Davidson, hockey announcers. These two are a top-notch team, but too bad the United States wasn't. As the U.S. squad faded, so did Emrick and Davidson, relegated to weekend afternoons.

The Ahmad Rashad hanging around on the sidelines barium medal: Mike Eruzione, hockey reporter. Let's go down to Mike for this report on how coach H. Stixx is telling his squad to step it up.

The hit the mute button zirconium medal: Dick Stockton, speed skating announcer. Two of the best American stories, Dan Jansen and Bonnie Blair, happened on Stockton's watch. Other than hearing him jabbering when he should have kept quiet, do you remember anything that Stockton had to say?

Best quote of the Games platinum medal: Peter Mueller, Jansen's coach. Asked whether Jansen had trouble in the 500 meters because the ice was slippery, Mueller told CBS, "Ice is always slippery."

The most revolting development bismuth medal: Radio skating. Yes, I listened, too -- but I felt so ashamed. Live radio play-by-play of figure skating is a broadcasting trend that we should hope never catches on.

The let's see how tough they are titanium medal: Given to the winner of the Cathy Turner Challenge. Here's the plan: Take all those whining short-track speed skaters who didn't like Turner's tactics and have them face Turner in a special edition of "American Gladiators."

The best new Olympic personality silver-haired medal: Dave'smom. If David Letterman has any clout at CBS, he'll not only get his mother to Nagano, Japan, in 1998, but he'll also get her Jim Nantz's spot.

The don't believe the hype, missing in action zinc medal: Goalie cam. Neither of the U.S. goaltenders wore it. That's their prerogative, because it could have interfered with their play and maybe the U.S. team would have done something such as win only one game. Jason Alexander would have worn it.

The brilliant placement einsteinium medal: Those point-of-view cameras. Whether at takeoff point for the ski jump or alongside the speed skaters, many of the shots gave us a better appreciation for how high -- in fact, sometimes how dizzying -- the level of competition was.

The cinema verite strontium medal: Donna Weinbrecht, U.S. freestyle skier. Weinbrecht allowed CBS to film her doing practically everything but brushing her teeth for the network's piece on her comeback from a knee injury.

The Fred and Ginger you should be dancing palladium medal: Tim Ryan and Andy Mill, skiing announcers. It must have been a pretty cold day in Kvitfjell when they were hopping around doing the "Achy Breaky" together.

The Casey Kasem gold record medal: Whoever was behind the music for CBS' promos and teasers. "Save the Last Dance for Me" for pairs skating, "Fever" for Torvill and Dean -- the choices almost always fit.

The waiting is the hardest part lead medal: Figure skating coverage. When we return to Hamar . . . . Yeah, we know, but you're not going to return for a half-hour.

The in your face, critics, plutonium medal: CBS. The network has no reason to believe there was anything wrong with its coverage -- the ratings are certain to set an Olympic record.

The for old-times' sake tungsten medal: Ratings measure the percentage of television households watching a program. Shares measure the percentage among households where television is in use.

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