5 things to know about the Olympics this week


The U.S. is clawing its way back up the Olympic medal standings (kind of). The country has 16 total medals and is tied with Russia for second overall behind the Netherlands. The U.S.’ four gold medals leave it tied with Russia and Canada for third, behind Switzerland, Norway, the Netherlands and Germany. Here are five more things to know:

Olympic ratings are sinking

After a quick start, NBC’s ratings for the Sochi Olympics are fading. Saturday night’s prime-time telecast was seen by 17.1 million viewers, the smallest audience so far and smaller than any night of the Vancouver Olympics in 2010. The Saturday telecast opened with the compelling story of the U.S.-Russia men’s hockey game, but things quickly went downhill, and there were few notable performances by Americans to keep home team fans interested. The comparable Saturday in Vancouver had 26.7 million viewers, and the Turin Games in 2006 had 19.7 million. The hockey game on the NBC Sports Network was seen by an average of 4.1 million people, swelling to 6.4 million during the shootout, strong numbers that indicated how word spread quickly about what was going on.

Bob Costas’ eyes are back

Ol’ Red Eyes is coming back! NBC said that Bob Costas will return Monday night as host of the network’s prime-time telecast, with Matt Lauer filling in one last time on Sunday. That means Costas will have missed seven days because of a stubborn infection that reddened first one of his eyes, then the other, and left him sensitive to light.

Hockey Hangover

NBC’s hockey team was quick to call out the U.S. men for looking energy-deficient during part of the game against Slovenia on Sunday, probably a natural hangover from the previous day’s excitement. The announcers were a little less inviting to the non-hockey fanatics, with repeated references to a “natural” hat trick without explaining the phrase. We’ll assume it has nothing to do with hairstyles.

Biathlon race canceled due to fog

The men’s 15-kilometer mass-start biathlon race at the Sochi Olympics has been postponed until Monday at 10 a.m. (0600 GMT) because of fog.

The race, initially set to start 7 p.m. local time (1500 GMT), had been delayed for one hour as organizers said fog at the Laura Cross-Country Ski and Biathlon Center made the visibility too poor on the shooting range.

However, conditions didn’t improve enough to start the race at 8 p.m. (1600 GMT).

Martin Fourcade of France will be aiming for his third gold medal of the Sochi Olympics, while Ole Einar Bjoerndalen of Norway could win a record 13th Winter Olympic medal.

Cases of mistaken identity

Alpine race announcers broadcasting to fans in the grandstand have not seen too clearly this weekend.

Medal winners were mistakenly identified during the men’s super-G race Sunday despite a personnel change overnight after similar problems at the women’s super-G.

Images of Americans Bode Miller and Andrew Weibrecht in the finish area were broadcast on the giant screen with a commentary naming them as Miller and teammate Ted Ligety, who placed 14th.

That wasn’t the worst of it. Saturday’s winner Anna Fenninger raced down the course as announcers enthused about Tina Weirather’s great run. Weirather was listed No. 17 but withdrew injured, so the 17th starter was No. 18 Fenninger.

If the Austrian did not hear that flub while racing, she got a second chance moments later when announcers explained their error at length.

The International Ski Federation asked Sochi Olympics organizers, who are responsible for venue presentation, for a tighter show, prompting the changes Sunday.

 

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