Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Jan. 19: NBC's Screw-Up (And This Has Nothing To Do With Jay and Conan

By Sylvia Gurinsky

Then there was NBC's screw-up. No, not Jay Leno and Conan O'Brien.

The other screw-up. The one figure skating fans know about.

The United States Figure Skating Championships have been taking place since last week in Spokane, Washington, and will continue into next weekend. These are the big ones. The ones that decide who will represent the country at the Olympics next month in Vancouver.

Typically, the national championships take place over the course of a week, maybe Tuesday to Saturday, with pairs and dance finals shown on tape, the men's final shown live Saturday afternoon and the ladies' final shown live Saturday night. At least that's how ABC, which taught the world how to cover the sport, handled it during more than four decades.

But because of figure skating's recent miseries in this country, ABC waved goodbye to the national championships, which are now on Olympic network NBC, whose call letters increasingly stand for "Never Be Competent."

Apparently, NBC pushed the United States Figure Skating Association to stretch out the competition to a length almost as long as the Olympics; however, only the women's final will be shown in live prime-time, this Saturday night. The men's final, in which prospects are much better for an Olympic medal, was shown yesterday afternoon. The dance final, with reigning Olympic silver medalists Tanith Belben and Ben Agosto, is scheduled for this Saturday afternoon.

The whole thing presents a logistical nightmare for skaters, coaches, families and fans headed to Spokane. It's also a source of disgust for fans having trouble finding everything on television.

Maybe if NBC gets Jay and Conan to host the coverage?

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