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What to watch on TV at the Sochi Games

Predicted day-by-day highlights of the Winter Olympics.

February 06, 2014|By David Whitley
  • U.S. skier Bode Miller will be one of the favorites when the downhill competition takes center stage on Sunday at the Sochi Olympics.
U.S. skier Bode Miller will be one of the favorites when the downhill competition… (Fabrice Coffrini / AFP /…)

The Winter Olympics are back, starring Nancy Kerrigan!

Twenty years after her knee whack turned into ratings gold, NBC is bringing Kerrigan back. It's ostensibly to get her expertise on figure skating, but let's be honest. People apparently want to relive her "Why me? Why? Why? Why?" moment.

At least that's what NBC thinks. When Tonya Harding's ex-husband masterminded the plot to eliminate the competition, it was bad for Kerrigan's knee but great for the Olympics.

The soap opera turned the Lillehammer Olympics into the sixth-highest-rated show in history. The 48.5 average is still higher than even Sunday's Super Bowl, which drew a 46.4 as Peyton Manning wailed "Why me? Why? Why? Why?"

TV LISTINGS: A day-by-day guide for Sochi Olympics

After 20 years of silence, Kerrigan has finally opened up in a documentary about the attack. It will be shown sometime during the 18 days, though NBC isn't saying when. Maybe it wants to build the suspense, or plug it in if the U.S. team starts to bomb.

There are about a million more pressing stories in Sochi, and NBC vows to cover them all.

It has 1,539 hours to fill, and only so many can be devoted to a 20-year-old kneecapping. To help you navigate the programming blizzard, here's a look at the most promising things to watch every day


Opening ceremony

(NBC, 7:30 p.m.)

It's supposedly a nine-part exploration of Russian history, but surely it won't be that boring. There's always the mystery over which of the country's aging Olympic heroes will light the caldron. NBC nominated Kerrigan based on the fact she's read "Dr. Zhivago." The way he runs things, Vladimir Putin might just do it himself.

And there's always the fashion show. The U.S. team will wear Ralph Lauren. If we're lucky, the lone competitor from Bermuda will walk in sporting the wolf coat Joe Namath wore at the Super Bowl.


Team figure skating

(NBC, 8 p.m.)

Nothing gets ratings like figure skating, so the powers-that-be have concocted a new "team" competition. They'll tally the point totals of a male, a female, a pairs and a dance team, with the winner getting a long-term deal with Ice Capades. Note: A late proposal by Russia and France to include "team judge bribing" was narrowly defeated.


Men's downhill

(NBC, 7 p.m.)

Bode Miller is not back for his 17th Olympics. It only seems that way. Quick synopsis: party boy, bombed in Turin, redeemed in Vancouver, blew out knee, custody battle with ex-girlfriend, washed-up elder statesman now gathering strength for his record fifth Olympics. If you didn't know better, you'd swear NBC's publicity department has spent the past 15 years making the whole thing up.


Men's 1,500 short-track speedskating

(NBC 8 p.m.)

Apolo Ohno has retired, but Viktor Ahn has not. Though he did retire Ahn Hyun-soo.

To clarify, Ohno and his eight medals are gone. The void is expected to be filled by the Russian Ahn. He was actually the South Korean Ahn until he had a falling out and became a naturalized Russian citizen. He changed his name to sound like "Victory," and if he wins, South Korea may declare war on Russia.

If that doesn't interest U.S. viewers, J.R. Celski might grab a medal if he changes his name to Apolo Ohno.



(USA Network, 2 a.m., CNBC 2 p.m.)

The Eddie the Eagle of sports returns. Curling originated in Scotland in the 16th century, when bored farmers got drunk, put on golfer's pants and slid big round stones across frozen ponds. Fast-forward to the 1998 Olympics, when IOC chiefs must have gotten drunk and made it a demonstration sport.

Somehow, the sight of adults feverishly sweeping ice in front of a turtle-like stone became a cult hit. Now Norway has rocked the curling and fashion world with its zigzaggy chevron print trousers.

The betting line for gold: Take the pants, give the points.


Men's speedskating

(NBC, 8 p.m.)

Eight years ago, Shani Davis won the 1,000 meters to become the first African American man from any country to win an individual gold medal at the Winter Games. Now he'll try to become the first American to win the same event at three Winter Games.

Sure, that's not as titillating as some loser hitting a figure skater on the knee with a police baton. But it would still be pretty cool.

Thursday, Feb.13

Luge team relay

(NBC, 3 p.m.)

With all due respect to team figure skating, this is by far the Games' best spinoff sport. A male, a female and a doubles team rocket down the track and hit a "uvula-shaped" pad that releases the starting gate for the next sled. Sometimes they miss. Other times they wipe out. And there is no "cry room" with runny mascara if you lose.

Friday, Feb. 14

Women's aerials

(NBC, 3 p.m. and 8 p.m.)

China now produces the world's best aerial acrobats, like Xu Mengtao. She's one of only three women who've pulled off a triple somersault with four twists. Another is America's Ashley Caldwell, a former Punt, Pass & Kick champ. Xu, as far as can be determined, never won a Punt, Pass & Kick competition.

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