From half a world away, Nicole Bobek sounded weary on the phone the other day, for reasons other than jet lag and time-zone adjustments.
The 1995 United States women's figure skating champion is not tired of the boomlet of interest in her sport, but of the reasons behind the boomlet.
Bobek, who will join a group of American and European skaters at "The Centennial on Ice" competition (TBS, 8:05 p.m. tonight) says figure skating's recent rise in popularity is a byproduct of the flap that developed during the 1994 Winter Olympics between Nancy Kerrigan and Tonya Harding.
"I wish people would drop that and focus on the athleticism and treat it more like a sport and not like a soap opera. Unfortunately, [the Kerrigan-Harding controversy] won't be forgotten," said Bobek.
Skating does seem to be leading a charmed existence, particularly on television, where the public seems willing to accept anything on blades, no matter how moldy or repetitive the program might be.
Verne Lundquist, who will call the four nights of competition from St. Petersburg, Russia, lamented the fact that skaters seem to be performing many of the same routines in televised programs, but he marveled at how a taped exhibition drew a 5.4 rating on CBS going head-to-head against football one Sunday this fall.
"You see people who are not prepared to enter a variety of competitions, but the money is too good to pass up," said Lundquist. "You tend to see the same program over and over again.
"I don't know what the answer to that is, but I know it has to be addressed."
Moon, Montana leave studio
Two of the most successful quarterbacks of recent pro football vintage, Joe Montana and Warren Moon, will not return to NBC and Turner next season. Moon, facing charges in suburban Houston that he battered his wife, has been dropped from the Turner Sports broadcast teams for football and basketball.
Moon, who had been a correspondent for NBA telecasts on TNT and TBS last season, and for TNT's NFL pre-game show while an active player with the Minnesota Vikings this past season, was notified by Turner that his services weren't needed and that the option year on his contract would not be renewed. Moon has not been seen on NBA telecasts this year.
Though his wife, Felicia, has backed away from her allegations that she was beaten by Moon, prosecutors have proceeded to trial.
In a statement issued yesterday by International Management Group, which handles his business dealings, Montana said he was leaving NBC to spend more time with his wife, Jennifer, and their four children at their home outside San Francisco.
NBC, which hired Montana with much fanfare, agreed last season to allow the four-time Super Bowl winner to essentially split an analyst chair with former Washington coach Joe Gibbs so that Montana wouldn't have to make a cross country trip each week.
There's some potentially interesting programming on the radio talk shows in the next week.
For instance, Josh Lewin con tinues his "Meet Your Team" introduction of the city's nameless NFL franchise on "SportsLine" on WBAL (1090 AM) through early next week, with a yet-to-be- nailed-down visit from owner Art Modell.
Horse racing analyst Kim Goodwin returns to Stan "The Fan" Charles' "Sports Exchange" program on WCBM (680 AM) tonight at 10, and Mark Mussina and Spiro Morekas will chat up former Maryland basketball player Evers Burns on Tuesday at 10 p.m. on "Sports Showdown" on WWLG (1360 AM).