Olympic TV schedule: What to watch Feb. 11

Brace yourselves: Bob Costas will not be your host tonight for NBC’s prime-time telecast. Apparently this is what passes for dramatic news these days. “Breaks Hosting Streak of 157 Consecutive Olympic Primetime Shows,” proclaimed the news release breathlessly, and, I might add, eventually, since the news had “broken” hours before. If Kathy Lee and Hoda have discussed it, it’s no longer news. Besides, what is he suddenly, Cal Ripken?

“Today” co-host Matt Lauer was tapped to take his place, so it’s not like they grabbed some boom operator and threw him in a comfy seat. (I wish they’d let Mary Carillo have a crack at it. She’s smarter and funnier.)

But truthfully, it doesn’t matter. A chimp in a suit could host the evening Olympic coverage — and probably get better ratings than Costas or Lauer — because the coverage is all canned. No one watches to see the host. Just get a chimp. Or get that puppy and Clydesdale from the Budweiser commercial to cavort in the snow between taped events. Gold, Jerry. Gold.

And speaking of gold … the United States didn’t win one in the snowboard halfpipe. Or a silver. Or a bronze. That had never happened before in Olympic history, albeit a short Olympic history. The Americans made up 25 percent of the field for the finals, yet none of them — Danny Davis, Greg Bretz and Shaun White — could stay off his bum.

White ended up fourth after a pretty solid but not spectacular second run, missing the podium by two points. His first run was a disaster, with a bad slip and a worse fall, when he landed hard on the rim of the pipe, first with his board, then with his bottom.

Iouri Podladtchikov had an impressive second run to win the gold. Japan’s Ayumu Hirano and Taku Hiraoka took silver and bronze, respectively.

It should be clear to even those of us who have never snowboarded a halfpipe — show of hands — that this particular halfpipe course was not in great shape. Still, everyone went down the same pipe, and a few managed to keep their boards under them and their wits about them. So it was a level playing field — in the shape of half a pipe.

While everyone expected a U.S. medal in snowboard, no one thought there’d be one in women’s ski jumping — and sure enough, there wasn’t. The American women were at the vanguard of the push to include the event in the Olympic program, but they were not in the vanguard of competitors Tuesday on the normal hill.

Carina Vogt of Germany won the inaugural gold, followed by Daniela Iraschko-Stolz of Austria and France’s Coline Mattel. The big surprise was who wasn’t on the podium — Sara Takanashi of Japan, who was fourth.  She’s won virtually every event this season coming into these Games and was gold medal favorite. Jessica Jerome had the best performance among the Americans, finishing 10th.

Meantime, every morning some American grabs a medal while no one is watching, because no one can, and that role was filled Tuesday by Devin Logan, who won a silver in the freestyle slopestyle. Logan suffered a torn ACL and meniscus and two microfractures in 2012 but is back with a vengeance — and she’s only 20.

A pair of Canadians, Dara Howell and Kim Lamarre, won gold and bronze.

And speaking of pairs, we turn now to the short program in pairs skating, where the top U.S. duo, Marissa Castelli and Simon Schnapir, finished the day in ninth. The long program is Wednesday. Of the top 10 couples, three are Russian, with Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov in the top spot.

The women’s luge wasn’t on NBC’s original schedule, but given the epic fail that was snowboarding, it’s possible you’ll see some highlights of Erin Hamlin’s historic bronze medal in luge. The United States has never won a medal in the sport in its 50 years on the Olympic program, so it would be surprising if NBC didn’t bend the schedule to incorporate Hamlin. That would be an epic fail, and on Matt Lauer’s watch, too.

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Rick Maese · February 11, 2014