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Rogge, NBC put best foot forward



Published: Wed, February 20, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



The things you can learn in mid-winter watching the networks of NBC:

UTwenty-two years ago tonight, ABC's Al Michaels asked the nation, "Do you believe in miracles?"

Canadian pairs skaters Jamie Sale and David Pelletier probably do.

How things have changed since the last Winter Olympics were staged on American soil.

Just two weeks ago, who could have imagined that the Olympics would quickly right an unjust decision?

Good moves: Credit goes to IOC President Jacques Rogge for lighting a fire under ISU chief Ottavio Cinquanta to resolve the ripoff in the great skating debacle.

When Rogge was elected IOC president, it was suggested he was no friend to North American interests.

We disagree.

We'd take off a beret to salute him if we could find one.

UOne of the smartest things the Peacock network did for the Winter Olympics was hire/borrow the ESPN announcing crew for the Salt Lake Games.

Play-by-play announcer Gary Thorne knows his stuff but refuses to take himself too seriously while analyst John Davidson is crisp and on-target with so much of his instant analysis.

Thorne and Davidson are well aware of and quick to share which NHL teams the players come from. The broadcasting duo come across as genuinely in love with their work.

And between-periods analyst Bill Clement is fantastic in sizing up what has happened and what's to come.

Unlike some of the Winter Games analysts, Davidson and Clement are passionate about their sports without yelling and talking at 100 miles per hour (have you heard bobsled analyst John Morgan?)

NBC could have tried converting someone from their stable of announcers into hockey broadcasters. It was far better for them to admit that nobody, at least in the U.S., does it better than ESPN's crew.

UIt was fun to see a nice guy like Ward Burton emerge from the pack to win the Daytona 500. If only we could understand what he said in Victory Lane. (Tell you what, word out of Arlen, Texas, is that "King of the Hill's" Boomhower reports he comprehended every word Burton said.)

UTracy Wilson, the former ice dancer from Canada, also does a wonderful job for NBC during the skating portions of the Olympic telecasts. Most of us watching don't have a clue as to what to look for in ice dancing, but Wilson's assured voice conveys details in a confident-yet-relaxed manner.

UWe've always been a huge fan of Wayne Gretzky, Team Canada's executive director. So it's painful to report that The Great One made a tremendous blunder when Team Canada didn't extend an automatic invitation to Colorado Avalanche goalie Patrick Roy.

No-brainer: Since 1986, Roy has backstopped four teams to Stanley Cup championships (the Canadiens in 1986 and 1993, and the Avalanche in 1996 and 2001).

Roy's Hall-of-Fame credentials speak for themselves -- to ask him to audition was insulting.

Roy said "thanks, but no thanks" to Team Canada. And the Canadians have missed Roy's swagger in front of the goalposts.

UHere's what we like about Olympic hockey: 15 seconds for line changes (instead of what seems like hours for the NHL); the elimination of the red line for two-line passes; and no TV timeouts.

Theses games are a breath of fresh air because they breeze by in no time.

UIf computer hacking ever becomes an Olympic event, Suki is the early favorite for the gold medal.

XTom Williams is a sportswriter for The Vindicator. Write him at williams@vindy.com.




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