The Olympics Sap-o-Meter
Lindsey Vonn cries, NBC rejoices.
Posted Thursday, Feb. 18, 2010, at 11:22 AM
Check out Slate's complete coverage of the 2010 Winter Olympics.
In its quest to find sap in Wednesday's utterly unsappy events, NBC proved that athletes aren't the only ones who can overcome adversity. On this sixth evening of Olympics coverage, the peacock fought through horrific ski spills, interviews with barely coherent snowboarders, and even an uncensored expletive. Oh, and Lindsey Vonn won a gold model. And cried. A lot. Now that's the stuff broadcast television dreams are made of.
NBC established the tearjerking tone of its Vonn coverage with the first question of Todd Brooker's post-race interview: "How long have you been dreaming of this moment?" While Vonn's words didn't light up the Sap-o-Meter—her responses ranged from "It's awesome!" (twice) to "It's so awesome!"—her leaking eyes sent the subjective sap count soaring. "An emotional Lindsey Vonn," Bob Costas explained to those viewers unable to interpret the meaning of tears. "Obviously those emotions a combination of joy, pride, relief, thanks, appreciation all rolled into one." Thanks to Vonn's golden sobs, NBC's final tally on the night reached a respectable 38 Sap Points.
Emotion remained a presence in Tuesday's broadcast even after Vonn left the slopes, notably when Shaun White's coach advised the gold medalist to "make sure you stomp the shit out of" his last halfpipe run. In a sappy save, Costas apologized and smoothly assessed the conversation as "obviously a lot of emotions there from Shaun White and company." Dedication and determination, too, bound together American gold-medal winners White ("deliberate in his dedication, he persevered and what a payoff"), Vonn ("a look of determination on her face"), and Shani Davis (who, after his victory, thought of "all of the hard work and determination and dedication" that preceded his race).
Our Sappiest Line of the Day presages sappier moments to come on Thursday, when figure skating returns to the airwaves. The men's competition "will come down to the free skate with Olympic glory on the line," Tom Hammond explained. (Emphasis on sap word 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.