The triumph of Dan Jansen is one of the most emotional Olympic stories in recent memory. This was practically a goof-proof story for CBS.
Not that the network didn't try.
OK, I can accept the waiting until after 10 p.m. to start. And Charles Kuralt's short piece was a nice setup.
Then came the competition, and in relatively short order came Jansen. He set a world record in the 1,000-meter speed skating. At that moment, he wasn't assured of a medal, but it was an emotional moment for him and his family entourage, especially his wife.
The pictures were great. Jansen, a look combining relief and disbelief on his face. His wife, Robin, a torrent of happy tears unleashed. Husband and wife in an ice-side embrace, hugging away years of disappointment.
And, all the while, no one told announcers Dick Stockton and Eric Heiden to shut up.
This wasn't a time for analysis of the race. It was a time to soak up the emotion.
Of course, your emotion had to carry you through a couple of commercial interruptions. Rainy days and french fries always make me cry.
Still, the pictures remain, nearly too good to be ruined by commercials and babbling announcers.
Four years from now, when you try to remember why you should watch the Winter Olympics, you'll recall Jansen's victory lap with his baby daughter.
I'm OK, you're OK, he's OK
I'm sure he was being sincere, but there was just something about the way Brian Boitano's comments were presented last night that reminded me of Al Franken's "Saturday Night Live" Stuart Smalley character. (You know, the guy who keeps telling himself that, darn it, people like him.)
"I'm not going to skate [today in the long program] to go from eighthto first," said Boitano, the former gold-medal figure skater who stumbled during his short program. "That's not why I came back. I'm just going to make myself happy."
It's all downhill
This is just a guess, but I kind of doubt that CBS would have shown us women's downhill practice runs last night if Americans hadn't picked up two golds and a silver in Alpine events so far at Lillehammer.
Oh, look, it's our favorite warm and fuzzy news couple, Dan and Connie, here to tell us about CBS' prime-time Olympic ratings.
Connie: What a lot of people don't know about Dan is that, along with drinking coffee on commercials and walking in flooded houses, he likes tokeep track of CBS ratings.
Dan: I've kept a scrapbook of our network's ratings for about 25 years, though I haven't kept track of the evening news recently.
Connie: He told me that Thursday night's prime-time Olympic show drew a 26.2 rating and 39 share and that it was up 36 percent over the first Thursday during the 1992 Winter Games.
Dan: Connie, who's a first-rate reporter, learned that the six-night prime-time rating average is 24.7, up about 27 percent over 1992.
Connie: Dan has taught me that ratings measure the percentage of television households watching a program.
Dan: Shares measure the percentage among homes where television is in use. Would you like some coffee?
Make sure you have the extra-large bag of Cheetos today. CBS' Olympic coverage runs from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. and 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. (channels 11, 9). Bonnie Blair's effort in the 500-meter speed skating is being saved for the evening show, as is the men's figure skating.
No strings playing in the background of today's hockey game -- United States-Sweden is live this afternoon.
Oh, you may want to tune into the late-night show (11:35 p.m.-12:35 a.m.), when Al Trautwig answers the burning question, whatever happened to Fassal Cherradi? Cherradi is the Moroccan whom CBS delighted in showing falling down during cross county competition in 1992.