With the addition of team figure skating to the Olympic manifest, I wasn't surprised to hear from my grumpy old pal the Sports Curmudgeon. "Hey, Frank," the crabby kibitzer said, "when you gonna admit that anything that calls itself a sport that has music outside o' halftime ain't a real sport?"
Actually, there are other sporting defenders of the faith who are even more critical. They maintain that any sport — like figure skating, gymnastics, diving, halfpipe — that is resolved by exterior judges rather than by the participants themselves is not a true sport.
Now to the Winter Olympics in Sochi, where American snowboarder Shaun White attempted a three-peat today. He was trying to be the first three-time gold medal winner in the half-pipe competition, actually the first American man to win three consecutive golds in any Winter Olympic event. And NPR's Robert Smith watched the action today and joins us now from outside the half-pipe venue. Robert, how did things turn out for Shaun White?
This week, the men start playing ice hockey in Sochi. Now, I admit that, although I'm a confirmed TV sports fan, watching National Hockey League games just isn't one of my vices. The Olympics, though, inject a dose of chauvinism into the game, which is kind of fun. I was a kid when the U.S. beat the Soviet Union back in 1960. And in the age of HDTV, we can actually see the puck, which makes the game a lot more watch-able, at least for me.
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Sports history was made today at the Winter Olympics in Sochi. For the first time, women were allowed to compete in ski jumping. And some of the women who jumped today had been fighting for equality for their sport for more than a decade.
NPR's Tamara Keith was there at the RusSki Gorki Jumping Center and joins us now. And Tamara, let's start first with the medalists, who came out on top today?
It took 50 years — and for Erin Hamlin, three Olympics — but an American has finally won a singles medal in the sport. Erin Hamlin took bronze behind two powerful Germans in the women's final Tuesday.
Natalie Geisenberger's winning margin of 1.139 seconds was the largest at the Olympics since 1964, the sport's first year at the games. She set a track record on her first run Monday and did the same again on Tuesday, in a run that saw her top 84.5 mph.
In an event that came down to a dramatic final run, American snowboarder Shaun White finished in fourth place in the men's halfpipe Tuesday, falling just short of the podium with a score of 90.25. White needed a score of better than 94.75 to take gold.
The margin was close – the top four men all finished with scores above 90. But Switzerland's Iouri Podladtchikov moved from third to first place on his second run, in the event in which only the best score is counted.
When American Sarah Hendrickson launched herself down the 90-meter jumping hill in Sochi, she flew into history, becoming the first woman to ski jump in Olympic competition. She ultimately finished in 21st place.
Carina Vogt from Germany brought home the gold. Daniela Iraschko-Stolz of Austria took silver, and France's Coline Mattel, 18, won bronze.
Originally published on Tue February 11, 2014 1:55 pm
There's big news for Team India as Day 5 of the games gets underway and potentially historic news for the man known to millions as The Flying Tomato.
After a standoff between the Indian Olympic Association and the International Olympic Committee, the three athletes from India can now officially compete for their country. Until today, they were competing under the Olympic flag, as "independent athletes," in cross-country skiing, Alpine slalom skiing and luge.
NBC says its coverage of the Winter Olympics drew more than 100 million viewers over the last weekend of the Games. That indicates lots of interest, which will fill more than 1,500 hours of coverage across all of NBC's platforms - broadcast network, cable channels and online. With all this coverage and so many ways to watch, we turn to NPR television critic now, Eric Deggans for some tips. Good morning.
ERIC DEGGANS, BYLINE: Good morning.
MONTAGNE: How are fans getting their Olympics coverage these days - for the most part?