14 February 2014

Where are the Medals Ceremonies?

     I love the Russian national anthem.  I’ve loved it since I first heard it played at a medals ceremony in the Olympics sometime back in the USSR era. The awarding of medals has always been one of my favorite parts of the Olympics. Not only for seeing the pride on the athletes faces and the tears running down their cheeks, but for hearing the national anthem of so many other countries. And nothing made me quite so happy as when a Soviet athlete won and I knew I would hear that gorgeous bit of music.  
     I have also always loved figure skating events. Back in the day, you didn’t have to be an expert to recognize the classic quality of Russian skaters. For years I watched their country’s skaters and coaches, whom I came to know by name. What they were like as people, what they sounded like - no one knew because they were not allowed to give interviews.
     And then the USSR fell and everything changed. Suddenly I heard, for the first time, the voice of Tatiana Tarasova who I had been watching for years. I remember the odd feeling it gave me to finally have a voice to go with the image. Unfortunately, along with the downfall of the government, out went that beautiful national anthem. I clearly remember the feeling of sadness when I realized I would never again hear it on a podium. And then they brought the anthem back!
     How thrilled was I when, the other night, the Russians took gold and silver in pairs skating. Unbelievably, the entire final round had been broadcast live, and after the final skate I readied myself for the medals ceremony. I stared at the screen in disbelief as NBC cut away and did not broadcast the event.
     For those in the US who have never watched an international sporting event from Europe, or probably any other continent, you have no idea what you are missing. For some reason, NBC thinks Americans only want to watch Americans, and only want to watch the top ten in any sport, and only late at night as a highlight reel. That’s not the way they do it elsewhere around the world. Events are shown live, beginning to end, including medals ceremonies.
     It’s hard to understand how in 2014 the Olympic coverage seems inferior to what I watched as a kid. Sure, the images are now in color and of a far better quality, but I miss seeing things like medals ceremonies and hearing other countries national anthems. One would think that all those parts missing on the broadcast would be available on NBC’s massive Olympic site, but they are not. I’m still working out how to Google in Russian to see if I can find a video of the pair’s medal ceremony.