Thursday, August 4, 2016

The Olympic Blurb 2016: The Olympic Analysts

In Olympics, sometimes the audio provided by announcers and analysts becomes even more iconic than the event itself. What happened at the end of the USA-USSR hockey match in 1980? No one will say where the players were on the ice; what they will say is "Al Michaels screamed, 'Do you believe in miracles? Yes!'"

Especially over the last 12 years of Olympic viewing, I have developed a fondness for the announcers of some of the Olympic events. Well, most of the time it's fondness. The other times are when I think, "Shut up *insert name here*!" Even more, when those announcers or analysts aren't in the booth for an event, I notice.

I am more than welcome to those new analysts that come into the booth, and a few will make my list here. But many of them have been with me in Olympic viewing for three Games or more, and that is how I've learned to appreciate them, even when they should just shut up and let the viewer watch the celebration.

My favorite analysts in the 2016 Summer Games:

Rowdy Gaines
Events: Swimming
Pedigree: 3-time Olympic gold medalist in swimming
Did You Know: His first name is actually Ambrose!

Of all the analysts, I think I have the biggest love-hate relationship with Gaines. He certainly knows his stuff, but he says a lot of stuff during the race in such an excited voice that you almost can'tunderstandwhathe'ssaying!!!

He has a great report with his announcing partner, Dan Hicks, and they are great in the booth together. Hicks is pretty calm and Gaines can be overly excited, and they balance out. Gaines sometimes will get excited if he notices someone making a charge, and while that may conclude with an exciting finish, most of the time that swimmer charging forward ends up fading away anyway. So we get all excited for nothing. Thanks, Rowdy.

I will always remember his and Hick's announcement of Michael Phelps' seventh gold in Beijing in 2008. That race was insane for so many reasons, but at the end when they announce that Phelps won, Hicks shouts, "He gets it done again!" and Gaines is screaming, "He did it! He did it! He gets it done again!" An announcement for the ages.

Ato Boldon
Events: Track
Pedigree: 4-time Olympic medalist in track
Did You Know: He's a native of Trinidad and represented Trinidad and Tobago.

While Gaines is the epitome of crazy analyzing, Boldon is a pretty calm analyst. He does a lot of analyzing, which people don't hear enough if they're watching other sports. He specializes in sprinting events, and there are two other analysts for middle and long distance events (Craig Masback, Tim Hutchings), but when I think analysts for track, I think Boldon.

Since he is a sprinting analyst, he doesn't get a lot of time, if any, to analyze during the races (Tom Hammond is a spectacular announcer and covers the race extremely well), but he does manage to provide a lot of information following the event.

Cynthia Potter
Events: Diving
Pedigree: Olympic bronze medalist in diving
Did You Know: Competed in both springboard and platform diving.

Potter is excellent at breaking down dives, even when she has to analyze the dive immediately. In my normal-person-view of diving, I think that most of the dives I see are amazing and awesome. Because I have no knowledge of diving and its technical judging, Potter almost seems like a downer. The dive finishes, I think, "That was so great!" and then Potter says, "And this is what he/she did wrong..."

It's not like she's a depressing person - she's just being matter-of-fact! All dives are not the same, and when the dive is shown in slow motion and from other angles, suddenly you realize that Potter was right - she's just faster on the draw than us.

Tim Daggett
Events: Gymnastics
Pedigree: Gold and Bronze medalist in gymnastics
Did You Know: He is part of the only US men's team in 100 years to win gold.

Daggett is a mix of Gaines and Potter. He can get super excited, but can also be super depressing. A lot of this is because of the sport; while diving is quick and swimming and track are consistent, one false move in gymnastics and it's all over, even if the rest of the routine went fine.

As a result, Daggett might be really excited because a routine is going really well, and suddenly the gymnast falls or misses a technique and you hear him go, "Oh no!" The disappointment in his voice is only reflecting our disappointment. Of course, when his commentary turns into saying "There's a deduction; there's a deduction" over and over again, it can be pretty annoying.

Nastia Liukin
Events: Gymnastics
Pedigree: Gold medalist in gymnastics

Did You Know: She was born in the Soviet Union.

I have quickly grown to appreciate Liukin's commentary as I have listened to her over the past few years in National, Olympic, and World coverage. She is new to analyzing compared to the others on our list, but that ends up being a strength. She knows the ins and outs of contemporary gymnastics training and can share that with us, the viewing audience.

Plus, she works very well with Al Trautwig, the announcer, and Daggett. It can be hard to share a booth with two guys who have been announcing together for years, but she provides great information and analysis of the technique and routines of the gymnasts.



Those are my favorite analysts for sure! If I can remember your name and vocal inflection, then you must be good at what you do.

(But seriously, you don't have to fill all the emptiness with talk. Silence is golden!)

Maybe I'll have a new analyst to add to my favorites after the Games begin tomorrow! Daily Olympics Blurbs will start on Saturday and cover the previous day's events. Follow me @CeePipes or like my Blurb Musings page on Facebook to get updates on my posts!

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