You know it was a packed day at the Olympics on Tuesday if NBC didn’t even try to squeeze a Mary Carillo anthropological adventure into primetime. Let’s break the broadcast down. (Click on links for videos.)
WOMEN’S GYMNASTICS Perhaps now that the event finals are over, we’ll see Gabby Douglas smile again. We got a small grin at the end of her beam routine — which drew gasps when she fell off on a leap – because the stress was finally over. For her. Aly Raisman, on the other hand, found herself in the middle of a U.S. protest after her score placed her in fourth. Kathy Kelly, vice president of the U.S. women’s program, and Marta and Bela Karolyi, quickly pantomimed for her coach to file an inquiry. “For what?” Aly’s coach asked. They thought the judges hadn’t calculated the difficulty value of Aly’s routine correctly.
Turns out, they were right. The adjustment, which was poetically debated while Katy Perry’s “Firework” played in the arena (“Come on, show ‘em what you’re worth”), meant Aly tied with Romania’s Catalina Ponor for third. Because Aly’s execution score was higher, she got the medal. You might recall that Aly lost the bronze in the all-around on a tiebreaker. It’s so unfair that high jump can have a three-way tie for a medal and gymnastics screws someone. China’s Deng Linlin and Sui Lu took gold and silver as we learned that at the end of their workouts, the Chinese gymnasts stand on their tippy toes on the balance beam for about five minutes (Survivor challenge!) and have the ability to simulate the lighting of televised events in their training center.
Unanswered: Do they also recreate the rows of photographers waiting to capture Russia’s Ksenia Afanasyeva hand movements (odd but I appreciate the effort to do poses we wouldn’t have thought up ourselves in elementary school ) and Viktoria Komova not fighting long enough to make the U.S. commentators happy?
On floor, Reisman won gold by sticking that final forward flip she’d removed from her routine after landing on her head during warmups earlier in the Games. Reisman’s parents were entertaining as ever. Her mother reminded me of Connie Britton as she sat nervously awaiting her daughter’s turn. Reisman’s father leapt to his feet when she was through with the best routine she’s done in London, and the man sitting behind him had the nerve to ask him to sit down.
Ponor, 24, got the silver doing a routine to an elevator music cover of “Fever” that would have felt a bit inappropriate if she’d been a teen. The crowd booed the score, but there was no protest from her coach. Our favorite Russian mean girl Aliya Mustafina actually smiled after her bronze-winning routine and gave Raisman a belated thumb’s up (the universal language of gymnasts) for her routine after an awkward hug. Jordyn Wieber stepped out-of-bounds and had some trouble with her “dance elements” and left the floor holding back tears. Italy’s Vanessa Ferrari received my lowest leotard fashion score for her distracting one sleeve number (was she hiding a tattoo that matched the one on her ankle?), but she got high marks for selecting the Last of the Mohicans soundtrack as her music.
MEN’S GYMNASTICS Men’s gymnastics got the shaft this Olympics. The still rings always seemed to get cut for time. This time, NBC felt fine putting the parallel bars final in late night because no American qualified. You can watch the gold, silver (one of the Germans who hopefully endorses a hair product), and bronze performances on NBCOlympics.com. NBC didn’t even show the full high bar final, which is probably the most exciting event in all of gymnastics. I named Epke Zonderland our Olympic Stud of the Day for his thrill ride, which earned the Netherlands its first-ever gymnastics medal — a gold. Watch it below and note Danell Leyva, who finished fifth, enjoying the hell out of it. Germany’s Fabian Hambuechen earned the silver for his high-flying routine, which finished with him encouraging the audience to cheer even louder for him. I was rooting for him to beat China’s Zou Kai, who took the bronze. The U.S.’s Jonathan Horton finished sixth.
NEXT: The joy and pain of track and field, beach volleyball battle