Catching Olympic Fever: Let the Games Begin! | Local News


It was already going to be an Olympics like no other – with ever-changing COVID restrictions, TV correspondents working remotely in Connecticut to “cover” events in China, and lingering political tensions between the United States and the host country – and that was before we learned burner phones.

But the show will go on regardless, with the opening ceremonies today at the National Stadium in Beijing. (If you want to see the show live, it starts at 5:30 this morning on NBC. The rest of us will tune in tonight at 7. Hope the NBC editors put together a nice episode.)

What else will be different?

Hush: Spectators – whose numbers will be severely limited due to COVID-19 – are asked to clap, not clap, so as not to spread the airborne virus.

Solo act: NBC usually has an army of announcers, analysts, and reporters at the Olympics. This time? Not really. Most comments will be based on video feeds. Poor host Mike Tirico will mostly be alone in his cozy studio in China.

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Frequent traveler: Tirico will also spend a lot of time on planes. He anchors NBC’s primetime Olympic coverage before returning to the United States to host NBC’s Super Bowl coverage on February 13. women’s skating and bobsleigh events.

Speaking of double duty: The Chinese use the “Ice Cube” for curling events. It’s the same site used during the Beijing Summer Olympics in 2008, where Michael Phelps caused a stir with the US swim team. American curlers were thrilled to compete on the same “ice” where Phelps made his name.

First part : The Olympic opening ceremony is a big deal for the host country, with each host striving to make a splash. Do you remember the stadium full of batsmen during the 2008 Beijing Summer Games? We expect something spectacular today too. Like the 2008 Olympics, the 2022 Winter Olympics Opening Ceremony is designed by Chinese filmmaker Zhang Yimou, known for his stunning cinematography and use of color.

The lighter side

While the usual worries hang over any Olympics – terrorism, injuries, bad food in the Athletes’ Village – here are some lighter Olympic moments to watch:

Crazy pants are back! The Norwegian men’s curling team first came to attention at the 2010 Winter Olympics when they competed wearing clown pants. We hope this tradition will continue.

There will be a lot of coverage on short track speed skating. I don’t know who will win, but I know that at least one team will be disqualified from each race.

For a few weeks, the American public will be watching hockey (men and women) with a level of interest not seen since the 2018 Winter Olympics.

All grown up: Four-time Olympic gold medalist Shaun White, who burst onto the world stage as a teenager with an unruly mop of red hair, is now a grizzled snowboarding veteran at 35. And he faces teenagers.

Learning Curve: We can use all that couch time to figure out what sledding is and how it differs from skeletal. They are two true Olympic winter sports, just like biathlon, which combines cross-country skiing and target shooting. (How did it become a thing?)

Choose your side: Don’t make fun of the fierce rivalry between, say, Sweden and Norway in cross-country racing. These sports are everything in these nations. That’s what’s so fun about the Winter Olympics; we get to see the Super Bowl for other countries.

To agree: If Chad Salmela, NBC’s top cross-country analyst, calls a run, be sure to tune in. His explosive enthusiasm makes cross-country skiing, which isn’t usually a glamorous sport, a staple of the Olympics. Plus, he’s a close neighbor: When he’s not yelling at Norwegian skiers, Salmela is a track coach at the College of St. Scholastica in Duluth, Minnesota.

Home telephone : About those untraceable “burner” phones? It’s a fact: the FBI encouraged athletes at the Games to use “preheated” phones to avoid Beijing state surveillance of their smartphones. Luckily I’ll be watching from Kenosha. We wouldn’t want hundreds of photos of my greyhounds falling into the wrong hands!

Do you have a question or a comment? Email Liz at [email protected] or call her at 262-656-6271.


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