Transcript

2006 Winter Olympic Games

Ben Agosto and Tanith Belbin
American ice dancing duo Ben Agosto and Tanith Belbin win the silver medal. (Matt Dunham - AP)

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Liz Clarke
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, February 21, 2006; 11:00 AM

Tanith Belbin, 21, and Ben Agosto, 24, earn the United States' 1st medal in ice dance since 1976. On Day 11 of the Turin Olympics the American men were shut out of the medals in giant slalom. With a 4-0 victory over Finland, the U.S. women's hockey team won the bronze. Tonight, the ladies' Olympic figure skating competition kicks off at the Palavela.

Full Coverage: Turin 2006

Washington Post staff writer Liz Clarke was online live from Turin, Italy, on Tuesday, Feb. 21, at 11 a.m. ET to field your questions and comments about the events and athletes that comprise the 2006 Winter Olympic Games.

Turin Handbook:

Who's There? Twenty-five hundred athletes, 650 referees and judges, 2,500 coaches and team officials, and 2,300 representatives from the International Olympic Committee, the various national Olympic committees and the sports federations. All of those people still won't outnumber the media members, all 10,000 of them. An additional 6,000 are guests of the various Olympic sponsors. One million spectators are expected, although ticket sales have been sluggish.

A day-by-day guide to the 2006 Winter Games

Photos: Winter Olympics: History

Tales From Turin:

An Olympic Journal by Dan Steinberg

The transcript follows.

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Liz Clarke: Greetings from Italy! I'm in Sestriere, up in the Alps, trying to keep track of the US alpine skiers, who are having a miserable Olympics. It's snowing slightly here; not sure about Turin, where all the speedskating and figure skating (today's big events) take place. Am eager to chat about Olympics! Parliamo! (That's, 'let's chat,' I think)

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Bethesda, Md: Liz, can you please, please, please interview Joey Cheek? And find out if he's single?

Donating the $25k from his gold medal to charity was attractive enough, but he wins silver and donates the $15k from that, too?!!! I've got the world's biggest crush on this guy!

And if he doesn't have a letter from Harvard in his mailbox right now, stating that they made a huge mistake and would love to admit him on a full scholarship, well, then they've lost out. Oh, wait - if he doesn't go to Harvard, maybe he'll come to Georgetown. Okay, never mind, we don't want snooty Harvard to take home. We want him to go to school in DC!

Liz Clarke: What an adorable letter! Joey Cheek sure has made a lot of fans with his charitable gesture, and it's nice to see. I have gotten several e-mails from readers penned to him, asking me to forward them. I do believe he IS single. And I, too, was wondering if Harvard had reconsidered! He really has proven to be an athlete that the US can be proud of, it seems. And yes, he said the night he won gold that any bonus he receives for subsequent medals would all go to the Right to Play charity, earmarked for the children of Darfur.

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Burke, Va. Hello Ms. Clarke,

Beginning to feel more like a native Italian as your cumulative days in country mount? Hopefully it has been fun and enriching. So, as the Olympics approach the end what do you predict for the U.S. team? Sasha Cohen, Chad Hedrick, the men's curling team, and the women's and men's bobsled teams win medals? Anybody else?

Liz Clarke: Wow, you are really keeping up with the Olympic events! I hate for anyone to give my predictions much weight (though I DID predict US women's hockey team would win bronze, not silver or gold). Sasha Cohen debuts tonight with the short program. Irina Slutskaya is her main hurdle for gold. Slutskaya is more athletic, with more impressive jumps, and ought to win gold. Cohen may well get silver; more, if Slutskaya stumbles. The big Shani Davis-Chad Hedrick showdown in the 1500 is tonight; I sure cant call that, but expect them to share silver & gold between them. Curling is entirely Dan Steinberg's arena; I defer to the maestro. As for bobsled, women's is shaping up as a surprise, perhaps, with the lesser known US pair doing better than Jean Racine (has a new last name that escapes me) and Vonetta Flowers.

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Anonymous: Why was public awareness and ticket sales low?

Liz Clarke: I'm not sure that public awareness was a factor in low ticket sales. Ticket sales were a huge disappointment. I have yet to been to a single sold-out event, and it's really depressing--mainly for the athlete's sake. From what I've gathered from Italians I meet, the tickets were very expensive. There also isn't one Italian superstar who has gotten the country fired up, though they have won medals in several sports. The lesson of this Olympics may be that the public's interest in the Olympic movement--both in the US and worldwide--is waning. I'm unclear whether that's because of doping scandals, disillusion over professional athletes in the games, or just an over saturation with sports. But I'm sure that if Turin were hosting soccer's World Cup, everything would be sold out.

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Washington, D.C.: Do you think the Shani Davis controversy has diminished his (and/or other skaters) potential sponsorship opportunities after the Olympics? They kind of seems like jerks--not sure if I want their faces staring at me from a box of Wheaties.

By the way--who would you put on the Wheaties box?

Liz Clarke: Last question is easy: I'd put Joey Cheek and Shaun White on Wheaties box from this Olympics! But there are several days yet to go.

I am not so sure Shani controversy (over declining to take part in US team relay in order to be fresh for his main event, the 1000) has hurt his sponsorship opportunities. I know Chad Hedrick was peeved b/c he felt it cost the US a medal. But I've been interested in the response of other athletes--speedskaters in particular--who say they think what Shani did was totally understandable. I imagine he'll emerge from the Games as quite marketable, though it would be nice if he and Hedrick shake hands after tonight's race.

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Joey Cheek: It's so refreshing that someone who was an unknown to most Americans before the Games has turned out to be such a big story, not only because of what he's done on the ice but also off. Such a nice contrast to Mr. Miller, who is now what, 0-4 in his events? I hope he continues on this path on Saturday and comes away with no medals. Maybe then we won't have to hear about him all the time! I have noticed that NBC has stopped promoting him all the time and has started touting other American athletes. Now, if only we could also get them to tout other non-Americans, we'd have something!

Great Post coverage -- I've really been enjoying the stories from you and the rest of the crew!

Liz Clarke: I'm assuming this writer is NOT Joey Cheek the Olympics, but instead writing to us about JCheek. In any event, an interesting comment. I cant see NBC coverage over here so hadn't noticed or gotten wind that network is toning down Bode-promos. He is, in fact, 0-4 for medals in 4 events, with one more to go on Saturday. a big disappointment.

and thanks for kind words about our coverage; will share them with our happy crew here!

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Alexandria, Va.: What is your take on the so called feud between Shani Davis and Chad Hedrick? I don't think Hedrick should have went after Davis in the media. You keep any negative statements about your "team" within the team and not bring to national attention and not congratulate him for winning the race.

Liz Clarke: I tend to agree with you. I wonder what Amy Shipley thinks; she's our speedskating ace. Among those who defended Shani's decision was Dan Jansen, former US Olympic medallist. In general, the US speedskaters seem to be a very fractious, angst-ridden bunch.

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New York, N.Y.: Are there any events that the U.S. is not competing in?

Liz Clarke: Good question! Not that I can think of. just as soon as I write that, someone will write and correct me. and in fact, I hope they will. At first I was going to say ski-jumping, but there are some, from Alaska. I think the US takes part in everything; team is 211 strong here.

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Chesapeake, Va.: Why is it the snowboarders don't wear the aerodynamic suits all the other athletes seem to wear?

Liz Clarke: Am so glad you asked, because I asked this SAME question to the US half pipe coach 2 weeks ago. I thought it was simply a matter of hipster attitude. As a viewer and journalist, I wondered how the judges could assess performances fairly when the baggy clothes obscured the body so much? how can you tell what the athlete is doing? anyway, I was told that the baggy clothes are essential to allow snowboarders to bend knees full, raise arms over the heads, etc. They have to have freedom of movement. Apart from that, some kids take it another step and wear their baggy pants hanging off their rump; THAT is an affectation. or style, I guess. rather than competitive necessity.

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Chesapeake Beach, Md.: The term 'jerk' is being used to describe a lot of athletes this year. From Bode, to Shani, to Chad Hedrick, to even Sasha Cohen and Emily Hughes--there seems to be a number of athletes who are out there for "me" and can't say a decent word about a fellow teammate to save their life.

Do you think this is having an impact on the TV ratings and possible endorsement contracts that may or may not follow this Olympics?

Liz Clarke: I don't know if it's having an effect on TV ratings. I think the main reason for the TV ratings slump is that competing networks have deciding to 'counter-program' against the Olympics--trotting out their BIG shows (like Lost and American Idol)--whereas in the past they just conceded the ratings and put on re-runs, thinking there was little hope of siphoning off an audience.

From what I have seen, I think Bode is the only one who'll take a hit in commercial prospects as a result of these games. He has a big deal already with Nike; and Nike has always been comfortable with 'rebel' personae--like Andre Agassi (as a youngster) in tennis. But I imagine Nike likes winners, as well, and Bode has been a bust.

There's so much speedskating yet to go that I don't think you can close the book on how Shani, Chad both performed and behaved. Tonight will be a big test

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Easton, Md.: Liz, I spent last week in London and can attest that, if you love the Olympics but for whatever reason can't attend the real thing, watching TV in the U.K. is the next best thing. Hours and hours and hours of uninterrupted sports, pure sports, with no commercials or 'up close and personal" stuff. While I realize not everyone is interested in watching 80 near-identical ice dance routines, but if you are, you'll think you died and went to heaven watching this coverage. If I can't make it to Vancouver in 1920, you can bet I'll spend those 2 weeks in London, unless Canadian television steps up and does something comparable.

Liz Clarke: Very interesting comment. When I moved from Turin to Sestriere last week, I lost my access to Eurosport and have been VERY bummed since. I love the way sports (and news) are broadcast here. Interesting about London. I wonder if NBC will do any soul-searching after these Olympics. they have the Olympic contract for many years to come....

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Washington, D.C.: I watched ice dancing last night for about 15 minutes. The best part, by far, are the costumes. Who comes up with this stuff?? The first pair had the lady dressed up like a stripper/Vegas showgirl, complete with pasties! I wonder if the judges can even concentrate--I was too busy laughing.

Also, they need to find a new man to do the color commentary for ice dancing (no idea what his name is). He adds exactly nothing to either watching or understanding the competition.

Liz Clarke: I post this will little to add, other than I'm amazed by how many questions, comments we have about ice-dancing today

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Washington, D.C.: What's the general feeling about Lindsey Jacobellis over there? Sympathy or schattenfreude? And who comes out of this as the bigger cautionary tale: Jacobellis, demonstrating the dangers of showing off, or Bode Miller, proving that if you're going to shoot your mouth off, you'd better produce?

Liz Clarke: ooooh, I love this question! I think Bode comes off as the greater cautionary tale. Jacobellis did herself no favors by first denying that she was show-boating--trying to convince people she grabbed the board to 'stabilize herself,' when she was leading by a few MILES. to her credit (or her handlers' credit), she changed the story and confessed she had gotten 'caught up in the moment." I think most people--teens, adults, parents of kids--can empathize with an impetuous, joyful action, even if stupid. She wasn't venomous in any way. She just showed off; who hasn't at one time? Bode is a far bigger puzzle and muddle of contradictions. Athletically, he has been entertaining here for a few seconds and then crashed out. He might be able to put a good face on his results, but he keeps running away from the media. And if you judge him by what he's said in the past, maybe the moral is to just zip it. He hasn't helped himself here at all.

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Speedskating: I don't think Hendriks is upset that it cost the U.S. a medal - I think he's upset it cost HIM a medal. He has created the fuss - not Davis.

Liz Clarke: Good point. I'm not saying you're wrong at all. Chad was very hot to go for 5 Olympics medals, and the relay was one of those

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Reston, Va.: I'm sorry I don't buy the reasons for snowboarding's apparel. I see other athletes in the more aerodynamic garb doing things. And events like snowboard cross seem to be in need of reducing drag.

I've asked your resident curling and cheese expert this, but do you know why seats at some venues are clear?

washingtonpost.com: Tales From Turin

Liz Clarke: Here's a rebuttal worth reading.

As for clear seats, I am clueless. I haven't seen any yet or had occasion to ask. Curious.

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Gallery Place, Washington, D.C.: I must say, I'm impressed with how Apolo Anton Ohno handled the short track race on Satuday. He was very gracious when he received the bronze medal after the two South Korean speed skaters won silver and gold. He could have aired his sour grapes, especially considering the contentious history b/n Ohno and the South Korean skaters and the possibility that they worked together to block him out. But he was a class act all the way, congratulating both on a good race. His behavior was much more in the Olympic spirit than the long track skaters. Well done Apolo!

Liz Clarke: I totally agree. he was so over-exposed during Salt Lake in 2002, and I think many teens could lose their bearings after that. he really seems to have remained on an even keel, very focused and very gracious

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Washington, D.C.: I've never watched ice dancing before and I didn't think I ever would. But my girlfriend indulged me with two hours of curling, so I indulged her by watching ice dancing.

oh.my.god. Do they always fall that much? If every other pair falls, I'd watch it all the time. The anticipation to see who would crash to the ice next had me on the edge of my seat.

if they don't always fall...then what was up with last night?

Liz Clarke: I have no idea what was up, but it apparently was a BIG hit with TV viewers. it would be very funny is ice-dancing is what turns out to save the Olympics from irrelevance,...

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Ice Dancing: Prior to this year, ice dancing was the one figure skating event I never watched. Boy, am I glad I tuned in this year. Great competition, and how about all those spills the other night? Crazy! I have a new appreciation for what those dancers do, even though it may not strike you at first as being as difficult as the pairs' competition. Interesting to find out that doing the lower lifts is actually harder than the high lifts that seem to dazzle everyone!

Liz Clarke: Here is another; believe me, there are tons more. I'm starting to feel I missed out on a good assignment by not covering ice-dancing!

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Snow boarder gear: Please don't tell me you bought that explanation. Downhill Skiers aren't bending their knees ?

Liz Clarke: well, you're right; they are bending their knees. But I really respect the snowboarding coach who gave me this explanation. So I passed it along to you. maybe baggy boarding clothes are, in fact 99 percent style (however misguided) and 1 percent competition-driven. I think the kids look really cool, but I would like a better sense of what their limbs are doing while they're whirling around

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Shani again--different controversy: I think what will hurt him is not that he didn't skate the team pursuit but that he acted like a complete jerk when the NBC reporter interviewed him shortly after the race. He was extremely unpleasant to her for reasons of his own and alienated a lot of people who had been in his corner before. Why would you hire someone as the public face of your product if he chooses to be rude and unpleasant in his moment of glory? It was a very strange and uncomfortable moment--was any explanation ever given?

Liz Clarke: You know, I have heard a ton about that today. I didn't see the interview with Melissa Stark, but am told he was just as you say--rude, curt, disinterested. Am also told he was very expansive and gracious talking to print reporters before in his press conference. I don't know WHAT the story was, but my guess, and its only a guess, is that he either has some gripe with Melissa Stark or with NBC. Wish I knew because it was very uncharacteristic behavior. and as a P.S, usually athletes are more likely to be rude to print reporters and put on a happy, sunny, fake face when the TV cameras roll. so this is unusual behavior....

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Washington D.C.: I wish everyone would get over it with Bode Miller...he finished in the top 10 in a couple of events and DNFed a couple of others. Far below expectations, perhaps, but that's skiing. I've loved watching him race over the past few years, and he's added a huge boost to the U.S. alpine ski racing scene. He doesn't need to boo hoo to a bunch of patronizing reporters...I'm quite certain no one is more disappointed than he is. Good luck in the slalom, Bode!

Liz Clarke: Bode is the defending world cup champion, you're right, and a compelling athlete to watch. so let's post this, but I will object to your reference to "patronizing reporters." am not sure what that means. But Bode, at 28, published an autobiography; signed a deal with Nike based around a "join Bode" campaign; and competes and is coached on the dime of the US Ski team. I do think that athletes who feed off the public's interest in them owe the public, at least occasionally, a comment or insight or glimpse into what they're doing competitively. he's here representing the US Olympic team.

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Washington, D.C.: Regarding the color commentators, which (especially in ice skating) annoy me as well: I feel like they're all trying to replicate Al Michael's "do you believe in miracles?" from 1980....that's going to be a hard thing to do.

Liz Clarke: Yep, I have little tolerance for shrieking color commentators (se college basketball). Sometimes it's nice to watch sports without the sound....

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Alexandria, Va.: Well my snowboarding pants and jackets are lined for warmth and have knee pads and other pads built in for when I fall. (which happens a lot). There are also a lot of layers under those clothes. Not to mention my extra pockets are stuffed with my keys, Gatorade bottles, cash, ID, and if I was a serious boarder - the avalanche rescue marker. So that is why everyday snowboarder pants are that way...as that is how it's always been, no need to stuff them into skin tight lycra if they aren't comfortable competing in it. Besides, I'd bet good money Burton (which designed them) will be selling the uniforms as part of their new line. Besides - at least the snowboarding team as lived up to the hype (for the most part) vs the US ski team and their skin-tight lycra.

Liz Clarke: so there! glad you wrote!

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Fairfax, Va.: Hi Liz,

You made an interesting observation and opinion on why attendance at the Olympics has been low. You are right. The World Cup will be sold out and would be wherever it is held. While the World Cup and Olympics are both held every 4 years, the World Cup is about just one sport - futbol or soccer. The Olympics, of course, have so many different, diverse and even obscure competitions, that it would be hard to expect all events to be sold out. As you also know, soccer is the most popular sport worldwide. That said, nothing fosters more of the Coca Cola good will mentality of the international brotherhood of man (non-gender specific reference of 'man')than the Olympics. Gotta dig the opening and closing ceremonies which illustrate that nicely.

Liz Clarke: Interesting thoughts. but let me just add, when I saw I haven't been to a sold-out venue here yet, I'm NOT talking about 60,000-seat soccer arenas. I'm talking about speedskating venues that seat 3,000 MAX...and snowboarding, skiing grandstands of a few thousands as well. I'm talking about crowds the size of a Texas high-school football game. it's really depressing

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Washington, D.C.: Might Shani Davis have been rude to Melissa Stark because of his feelings toward NBC in general? The coverage of his decision to not race in the pursuit was incredibly negative. Him not racing cost the U.S. a certain medal, he did it because he is more interested in his own success, etc. They basically bought the Chad Hedrick version hook, line, and sinker.

Liz Clarke: may well be. we need to report and explain this, it sees, given the interest. and I really have no insight other than as a viewer.

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Steubenville, Ohio: RE: Ice dancing commentary. I agree, and think the poster was referring to Dick Button, an Olympic skater from decades ago. He seems to have turned into a "Grumpy Old Man" with his critique of the skaters. I wish they would give the male commentator job solely to Scott Hamilton. Scott seems to appreciate the efforts of the participating skaters and gives them credit when due. Costuming is a bit on the scant side on the ladies, although we all know all the stuff is fastened to an underlining that won't fall off the wearer. I think tasteful, less scant costumes would be just as attractive in this active sport.

Liz Clarke: more commentary opinions...

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Anonymous:

Hi Liz, Bill C. from Raleigh. An observation on pre-Olympics publicity, especially over the final year leading up to the competitions: I understand publicity's importance to the Committee in raising awareness and support. But it would appear there's a tendency to over-hype a few athletes deemed to be "stars," at the expense of other team members. Seems like the 2006 Olympics support the adage that tall trees fall the hardest. Perhaps this sense of neglect helps motivate the Joey Cheeks and Ted Lighetys to come out of nowhere and win The Gold. Would appreciate any thoughts you might share on this perception. Many thanks!

Liz Clarke: thanks for the question, Raleigh! NBC really does have so much sway over who will be the story of the Olympics--particularly going into the Games. I think the thinking is that given that the sports are so obscure (at least in US), the only way to drum up interest is to gin up the cult of personality. so they seize on a few pretty faces. Bode did his part, of course, by going on CBS and talking about skiing wasted. But the truth is, the best stories will emerge from the Games--Joey Cheek, Ted Ligety. I'm not sure it does a young athlete any favor to hype them up so much, esp when their competitive moment only comes once every 4 years...

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Santa Rosa, Calif.: How can we persuade the Olympic Commission to return to the old style of points for ice skating instead of the new system which seems to put the emphasis on athletics and takes the joy out of the performance, especially for the athletes and the audience? Thank you.

Liz Clarke: Am not sure but I imagine it's all but impossible. Figure skating seems to be ruled by a governing body that answers really to no one, and is understood by even fewer. It will be interesting to see, in general, how the public reacts to this new judging formula after these Games

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Baltimore, Md.: Hi Liz! Love The Post's coverage of the Olympics -- much better than TV. Regarding the Shani Davis interview on NBC, after his medal ceremony he was interviewed again by NBC (not Melissa Stark) and he seemed much nicer. Maybe he's got a beef with Melissa Stark?

Liz Clarke: Could be. many thanks for kind words to the Post

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Silver Spring, Md.: Maybe attendance is down because these sports are well, dull to watch. I have not been able to maintain any interest in any of the sports. I cheered when Beer Bode screwed up but that is about it.

Liz Clarke: did you watch snowboard cross, I thought it was great! Women's figure skating is always a big draw; that starts tonight. Baed on today's chat, many people got oddly hooked on ice-dancing. go figure!

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Carlisle, Pa.: I think it was Dan Steinberg who noted in his chat that the clear seats exist in the newest venues and are for security reasons (no hiding bad stuff under your seat).

washingtonpost.com: Discussion Transcript: Olympic Blogger Shares Stories, Talks Coverage (Feb. 17)

Liz Clarke: that's a puzzling explanation b/c every one who enters an Olympic venue is xrayed and scanned -- as if boarding an international flight. in theory nothing gets in a venue that hasn't been probed and zapped and all that

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Germantown, Md.: Re: snowboard clothes - I guarantee the first time that a snowboarder shows up in a skin suit the next race the rest will follow suit. The baggies are definitely not helping times but as long as they all wear them, it doesn't matter.

Liz Clarke: maybe. but do you remember a decade (or 2 or 3) ago when a British female tennis player wore a skintight white catsuit to Wimbledon? I don't believe that ever caught on.

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Hyping athletes: Anybody else remember Dan and Dave?

Liz Clarke: great reminder!

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Arlington, Va.: To the DC critic of ice dancing -- I would encourage them to read Sally Jenkin's commentary in today's post. These are very hard working athletes who deserve some respect.

washingtonpost.com: Goose Bumps And Bruises (Post, Feb. 21)

Liz Clarke: For all to read

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Madison, Wis.: I have a different take on the color comments. Watching the ice dancing last night (wow . . . never thought I'd write that) I was impressed at how frequently silent the color and play-by-play commentary was. During the silver medal performance, they remained silent for most of it. It was a refreshing change. Have you noticed that many of the English-speaking venue announcers seem to speak with American accents? Are they employed by the Turin folks or the IOC? I wonder where they found those people.

Liz Clarke: Am not sure where they get venue announcers. Again, I don't see NBC TV broadcasts so cant comment on play-by-play--wheteher it's annoying or delightful. But I have enjoyed the venue announcers at the events I've covering--mostly all outdoor ski events. AT my events, it's hard to tell whether the announcers are Swiss, French or Italian. I think most are Italian; they narrate the action in non-stop stream, repeating each observation in Italian, then French, the English. they root shameless for the Italians (so duh--I guess they are Italian). and they're really polite to athletes who bomb out, saying, at worst: "What a peety" (as in , what a pity!)

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I'll fill the seats: I would LOVE more than anything to attend the Olympics, but with ticket prices where they are, it's never been a remote possibility (even when they were in Salt Lake City, a short airplane flight from home). Will these continued stories of empty seats cause them to finally realize that the ticket prices are untenable?

Liz Clarke: I wish; but I don't sense any cognition on part of Olympic organizers that empty seats are a problem. as long as NBC can shoot around it, and make it LOOK like fans are going wild (and the alps are blanketed with snow) they don't care. They get their big bucks from international sponsors like McDonalds, etc. It's too bad--mainly for the athletes, who are performing before lifeless audiences. and the dim-witted idea of introducing Olympic cheerleaders here only underscores how pitifully lifeless the venues are....

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New Jersey: NBC take note: I'd watch more but the television coverage is unbearable. Cut from one event to another, cookie-cutter profiles, long stretches of boring restatements by the "host." NBC, I've voted with my remote, and I'm NOT WATCHING until the coverage is better.

Liz Clarke: Last I heard we were working on getting a NBC producer to do a Washington Post online chat to field these questions. I really hope we can do that, and that you will all sign on and fling these questions/observations their way!

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Alexandria, Va.: Another interesting note about Olympic personalities: When ABC did the Games, they were great about giving us up-close-and-personal with non-US athletes: Tomba, Eddy "the Eagle" Edwards, Torvill and Dean, etc. NBC's profiles are fine, but they're ALL about Americans. I know you're not watching these profiles, Liz, but you have covered other countries' athletes, so tell me: should we suspect NBC jingoism, or do all the other nations' athletes have personalities that would bore a grapefruit?

Liz Clarke: Great observation! It is sad; that's an issue with tennis coverage, too. ESPN etc only highlights American players, and the pool is pretty thin. I think networks don't give viewers enough credit: People want to read about, watch, learn about great stories/interesting people. to necessarily Americans. there is hardly a shortage of fascinating athletes here from all over the world--most of whom speak two or three languages, by the way...

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Liz Clarke: Oops. We have run over time! I really enjoyed the questions; there are piles more that we didn't get to, I'm sorry. I wish I were a faster typist, then we could hash out more things. but just to give you a sense, most chatters are buzzing today about Shani-Chad; ice-dancing; TV and Bode. Thanks so much for the provocative questions, observations. Enjoy the rest of the games--with color commentary ON, or on mute. And enjoy The Post's coverage, too.

con baci e abbracci, Liz

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