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Olympics recap: Figure skating! Figure skating! Figure skating!

Ashley Wagner probably won’t win an individual medal in Sochi. But there’s got to be some sort of award for her faces — she’s as animated as Jim Carrey in The Mask, only without the benefit of, you know, actual animation. Need even more proof? Let’s start things off by counting down Ashley’s top 5 expressions while receiving her disappointing short program score:

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1. “Umm, exqueeze me? Baking powder?” 

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Olympics recap: Emotional Bode Miller interview makes headlines, Meryl Davis and Charlie White lead in ice war

NBC’s primetime Olympics broadcast Sunday will be remembered as the night that reporter Christin Cooper made Bode Miller cry by essentially asking what he was saying to his late brother, Chilly, when he spoke to the sky before his run in the men’s Super-G. We’ve devoted a separate item to it, which includes Miller’s response to the backlash against Cooper, and you can read that here. I think it was a fair question — considering how open both Bode and his wife Morgan, who’s allowed herself to be mic’d during Bode’s events in Sochi, have been with NBC — but it shouldn’t have been asked then when Miller was already wiping away tears. It should have been saved for Matt Lauer to ask in the studio, when Miller and surprise Super-G silver medalist Andrew Weibrecht sat down with him for a chat that aired in NBC’s late-night coverage. READ FULL STORY

Olympics preview: In defense of Ice Dancing -- VIDEO

After curling, no Winter Olympics sport is more maligned than ice dancing, which begins Feb. 16. (Watch the short dance live on NBCSN, starting at 10 a.m. ET, ahead of NBC’s primetime coverage. The free skate airs live on NBCSN at 10 a.m. ET on Feb. 17, when medals are decided.) As you heard countless times during the figure skating team event, the greatest rivalry in the sport is between the USA’s reigning world champions Meryl Davis and Charlie White, who’ve been undefeated in the last two years, and their training mates, Canada’s reigning Olympic gold medalists Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir. The gold medal could come down to a bobble in a twizzle — the traveling side-by-side spins on one foot that test their unison (and balance) — or a hesitation in a lift.

Arguing over whether ice dancing is a “sport” is futile. Those who say it’s not will always argue that there’s too much emphasis on the “artistic” side, which, granted, can result in catastrophically questionable choices such as that “aboriginal” program from Russia’s Oksana Domnina and Maxim Shabalin at the Vancouver Games. Those who say it is will always point to the difficulty of the above mentioned twizzles and lifts and to the intricacies of skating that closely while matching steps down to the depth of a curve and to the height of a raised arm or leg. It’s the symmetry of the latter that makes Torvill and Dean’s “Bolero” program still hypnotic 30 years after they skated it to Olympic gold in Sarajevo.  READ FULL STORY

Olympics recap: The Canadian curse on ice, one really happy American on a sled

Aside from watching skeleton slider Noelle Pikus-Pace finally win her Olympic medal, there wasn’t much to love in NBC’s primetime broadcast on Valentine’s Day. Commentator Scott Hamilton referred to the men’s free skate as “disappointing,” and Ted Ligety admitted he “choked” in the Super Combined. On the upside, I did have time to wonder how many people have sang, “I like the way you work it, Ted Ligety” to the tune of “No Diggity” to him, so that’s something. (Update: At least one.) Here we go.

OLYMPIC STUD OF THE DAY: It’s possible no runner-up in the history of the Olympics has ever been happier than Pikus-Pace. We heard her long journey in Thursday’s telecast, and her story finally got a happy ending as she slided to a silver behind Great Britain’s Lizzy Yarnold. What we learned: Noelle’s son (in green below) has inherited his mother’s good lungs. READ FULL STORY

You need to start reading this figure-skater-turned-comedy-writer's Olympic tweets

27-year-old Chris Schleicher is a writer for The Mindy Project. Before launching his comedy career, though, Schleicher spent 16 years as a competitive figure skater — he and his pairs partner (a.k.a. his sister) were ranked 13th in the nation before Schleicher retired in his early 20s. (He actually got the Mindy job by writing a pilot about his skating days, which, naturally, was called On Thin Ice.)

In short, Schleicher knows more about figure skating than you do — and he’s also a lot funnier when riffing on the sport’s inherent ridiculosity. So please, before NBC airs the men’s long program finals tonight, add this guy to your Twitter feed; you won’t regret it. (What, like you had Valentine’s Day plans?) See why by reading some of his greatest recent hits:

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Olympics recap: Jeremy Abbott's a phoenix, plus the slopestyle boys at their 5 most precious moments

There are many candidates for Thursday’s Olympic Stud of the Day, an EW.com tradition dating back to the 2008 Summer Games that honors the athlete who was the night’s biggest/coolest badass. The U.S.’s Joss Christensen, Gus Kenworthy, and Nick Goepper swept the inaugural men’s ski slopestyle event — a feat the U.S. has only accomplished twice before in Winter Olympics history. Japan’s Yuzuru Hanyu became the first male figure skater to ever score above 100 points for a short program. Zhang Hong was the first Chinese speed skater to win long-track gold. But we’re going to give the honor to figure skater Jeremy Abbott.

America’s Abbott took to the ice in the men’s individual event hoping to redeem himself after falling on a quad in the team competition. And what happened? He fell again. Harder. I watched it air live Thursday morning on NBCSN and gasped when he slid into the wall and stayed down. I 100 percent expected him to stop the program (and 50 percent expected him to lie there sobbing before he’d leave the rink). This was his absolute worst nightmare coming true. But then… he got up. The crowd cheered, then clapped along to his music for the rest of the program. He landed his triple lutz-triple toe combination and stood up on the triple axel. When the music stopped, he was smiling. SMILING. It gave me chills.  READ FULL STORY

Tara Lipinski: Get ready to love Jason Brown -- VIDEO

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The men’s figure skating event gets underway Feb. 13 in Sochi, with the free skate following Feb. 14 (both air live at 10 a.m. ET on NBCSN before NBC’s prime-time coverage). If you’re a fan of the U.S.’s Jason Brown, you’re probably wondering if the Olympic audience could possibly be as responsive to him as the crowd at Nationals. We asked 1998 gold medalist-turned-commentator Tara Lipinski. Watch her response below.

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Olympics recap, Day 6: A historic tie, Kaitlyn Farrington takes gold, and Russia wins pairs skating (and our hearts!)

Day 6 of NBC’s Primetime Olympics coverage saw more action than the Tinder-using athletes on the prowl at Olympic Village.

The biggest shock of the night? Something we thought only happened at the Producer’s Guild Awards — A TIE! Dominque Gisin of Switzerland and Tina Maze of Slovenia tied for gold in the women’s downhill, a race in which “nine one hundredths of a second” is an actual thing. For Gisin, the win comes after the athlete has endured nine knee surgeries (!!) , which [S.H.I.E.L.D. spoiler alert] is more surgeries than Agent Coulson received to come back to life. In other words, she’s amazing. And while we’re on the subject of fascinating facts, Maze, too, is a rock star. Literally. In her native country, the skier is a well-known pop star and model. The crown jewel of her country. Meaning, the Beyoncé of Slovenia. The T-Swift. The Britney. But more badass than all of those combined because she’s now also a gold medal-winning Olympian.

On the American front, Kaitlyn Farrington scored the US another gold by rocking the halfpipe, besting event fave and fellow American Kelly Clark, who took bronze. On a night that saw a number of upsets — Julia Mancuso and Shani Davis, who competed in downhill and 1000-meter speed skating, respectively, failed to medal — Farrington’s surprise victory was a spirit-lifter.

We also saw the conclusion of the pairs skate, where Russia’s powerhouse duo Maxim Trankov and Tatiana Volosozhar took the gold, which was not a surprise. More surprising? How incredibly interested I was in their romantic lives. Actually, no, that was not a surprise either. I have no self-control.

Time to give out some EW Gold Medals for the night: READ FULL STORY

Olympics: Tara Lipinski talks figure skater superstitions -- VIDEO

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As figure skating continues at the Sochi Olympics — the pairs medals are decided Feb. 12, and the men take the ice again Feb. 13 and Feb. 14 — the jumps aren’t the only thing to tune in for. We asked 1998 gold medalist-turned-commentator Tara Lipinski, who’s calling all the action live on NBCSN with Johnny Weir and Terry Gannon, what else we should be watching — and she told us to keep an eye out both for pre-skating rituals and excitable coaches. (Can we get picture-in-picture for Brian Orser?) READ FULL STORY

Olympics: Curling coach answers 5 burning questions

No Winter Olympics sport takes more abuse from TV viewers than curling. With 12 days of curling on tap in Sochi (daily play continues until medals are awarded to the women on Feb. 20, and the men on Feb. 21), it’s time we change that. We phoned 2010 Olympics coach Phill Drobnick, who’s now the Project 2018 National Coach for USA Curling, to ask a few burning questions, like why the sport’s three-hour matches are interesting and if we could, theoretically, become Olympians if we started training today.  READ FULL STORY

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