The Olympics Sap-o-Meter
Falling in a winter blunderland.
Posted Thursday, Feb. 25, 2010, at 9:32 AM
Check out Slate's complete coverage of the 2010 Winter Olympics.
Wednesday was a night of mishaps for Olympic athletes. First came Lindsey Vonn's disqualifying tumble on the giant slalom, which also interrupted teammate Julia Mancuso's run. Next, a South Korean speed skater impeded a competitor during the women's 3,000-meter short track relay, disqualifying her team and handing the gold to China. Near the end of the night, favored Chinese aerial skier Xu Mengtao fudged the landing on her final jump, pushing her down to sixth place. *
Amid the fumbles, there was a decent amount of sap—especially whenever Vonn, one of Vancouver's sap MVPs, was anywhere near a camera. After the skier went down, taking a punishing fall that NBC would show repeatedly, commentator Tim Ryan pointed out Vonn's mother, Linda, looking anxious. "She's concerned about the well-being of her daughter," he said, explaining maternal unease to NBC's viewers. Thanks to worried moms, the Sap-o-Meter registered a moderate 31 Sap Points on the night.
Family mentions more generally continued to have a strong showing, with four daughters, six moms or mothers, and five dads or fathers. (Sons slacked on this female-heavy evening, failing to be brought up even once.) The evening's sappy high point, a featurette about a blind sled dog named Isobel, didn't use any of the Sap-o-Meter's designated words—though it certainly set a saccharine tone for the evening. "You look at Isobel and you think, you know what, never say never," her owner said, sounding proud.
The true sappiness of the Olympics, though, was encapsulated by a montage of the Games' greatest moments set to the tune of the Canadian Tenors' sap-o-riffic "Your Moment Is Here." Our Sappiest Line of the Day, uttered in the lyrics of the song: "Through the fire or the pain/ For the glory of the game … / You have found the world awaiting/ It's your turn now/ Because your moment is here." (Emphasis on sap words is ours.)
Previous Sap-o-Meter entries:
Monday, Feb. 15: Slate's scorecard of NBC sentimentality makes an emotional return.
Tuesday, Feb. 16: The Sap-o-Meter finds redemption.
Wednesday, Feb. 17: Pride and tears at the skating rink.
Thursday, Feb. 18: Lindsey Vonn cries, NBC rejoices.
Friday, Feb. 19: Tom Hammond, NBC's czar of determination.
Monday, Feb. 22: Father's Day comes early to Vancouver.
Tuesday, Feb. 23: A Canadian skater becomes "the daughter of the Olympics."
Wednesday, Feb 24: Mothers and daughters on ice.
Correction, Feb. 26, 2010: This article originally misidentified the Chinese skier who crashed in the women's freestyle aerials competition. It was Xu Mengtao, not Xinxin Guo. (Return to the corrected sentence.)