I obviously live for the adrenaline rush, and I love live television
February 15, 2018 9:24 AM   Subscribe

"Twenty years after she shocked the world by winning gold at Nagano, the figure skating prodigy is still an Olympic star, matching and maybe even transcending her prior profile as part of a captivatingly dynamic broadcast team with Johnny Weir." Tara Lipinski Hasn’t Lost Her Edge by Katie Baker at The Ringer
posted by everybody had matching towels (14 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
 
It sounds like a puff-piece, and I guess in some ways it is, but it is still a touching, funny, well-written article.
posted by k5.user at 9:57 AM on February 15, 2018 [1 favorite]


This is great. Johnny gets so much attention but Tara is great too.
posted by k8t at 10:16 AM on February 15, 2018 [2 favorites]


I think it's more than a puff piece. It really gets at why and how they are so effective. Like any top performers, it may not be easy to rise to that level, but this gives a great view of some of the ingredients it might take.

And as to the central point of the article: yes, more please!
posted by meinvt at 10:28 AM on February 15, 2018 [3 favorites]


You know how NBC uses golf commentators to botch biathlon coverage? Since expertise seems to not matter as much as enthusiasm, I absolutely want Tara and Johnny covering Notre Dame football this fall. Squeeeee!

Really though, those two have been entertaining as heck.
posted by Abehammerb Lincoln at 10:56 AM on February 15, 2018 [2 favorites]


Yeah, no offense to Tara, but so many of NBC's commentators are just completely mediocre, it's hard to imagine her being any worse than the bottom half of them. At least she's entertaining and given the time I'm sure she could learn enough to be a competent commentator in practically anything. This is pretty faint praise but she clearly has a head for the pressure of live announcing so geez NBC, give the people what they want.
posted by GuyZero at 11:11 AM on February 15, 2018


she clearly has a head for the pressure of live announcing

I would imagine that anybody who competes at the level of the Olympics probably has some experience operating under pressure that would be intolerable for anybody else

I remember watching the Bloomberg coverage of the elections and there was this one younger white commentator they had on who just wouldn't shut up about the point he was making. the rest of the team was happily making banter - going back and forth, voicing concern and moving on, but this guy just would not shut up about how right he was on this one thing. it was an obviously painful thing to watch and I was relieved when they pulled him off the panel and stuck in a woman of color instead who looked really surprised to be on at all but got into the groove very easily

in any case, that was also the day I realized I probably would never be able to cut it as a talking head. I'm much too pedantic for it, lol
posted by runt at 12:03 PM on February 15, 2018


I never really thought much of Lipinski as a skater (and this was when I was deep in my figure skating obsession). I always vastly preferred Michelle Kwan. But I adore her so much now -- she and Weir are my favorite part of the Olympics (and yes, have them be commentators on everything!) and their podcast is a delightful. She's not exactly someone I'd want to be friends with (although I think she'd probably be really entertaining to hang out with a few times), but I admire how absolutely honest she comes across. She's very self-aware and knowing about her flaws and her quirks. I don't get the impression she really cares all that much about trying to make herself look good. There's something really refreshing about that.

I don't know how I'd feel about her skating now (I'm more into the men's side at this point anyway) but I'm glad that I like her now.
posted by darksong at 4:14 PM on February 15, 2018 [1 favorite]


You know how NBC uses golf commentators to botch biathlon coverage? Since expertise seems to not matter as much as enthusiasm, I absolutely want Tara and Johnny covering Notre Dame football this fall. Squeeeee!

Really though, those two have been entertaining as heck.
posted by Abehammerb Lincoln at 10:56 AM on February 15


You have my permission and blessing to take her and her partner, with the proviso that you keep them away from NBC's horse racing coverage. NBC's horse racing coverage is terrible enough and when you add their flavour of colour commentary it just adds insult to injury.

As for their skating commentary, I can't say, as I watch skating on CBC.
posted by sardonyx at 6:05 PM on February 15, 2018 [1 favorite]


Tara Lipinski is cause for one of the enduring mysteries of my life. I was in elementary school during the heart of the Red Wings/Avs rivalry when she was frequently around Detroit to practice. A friend of mine went to one of the games at the Joe (probably in 97 or 98) and told all of us the next day that someone had handed out lyric sheets to a rivalry-themed version of the Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald. The only line I remember him saying was that it ended with "And if you don't wanna see blood on the ice go see Tara Lipinski," which is way too good and fits way too well for an elementary student to have invented on his own.

I've never been able to find the rest of the words.
posted by creade at 6:06 PM on February 15, 2018 [1 favorite]


I would imagine that anybody who competes at the level of the Olympics probably has some experience operating under pressure that would be intolerable for anybody else

The pressure to perfectly reproduce an intensive series of physical acts you have drilled in hundreds of times is I suspect quite different from the pressure to describe what you are seeing in an entertaining and informative manner live as it happens, even if both occur televised live on NBC every four years from somewhere cold.

There are actors who can do improv and actors who can't -- for that matter, there are actors who are only good on camera and actors who are only good on stage, even performing the exact same role. (See also: every single athlete -- all of whom have performed under the highest pressure imaginable to even get to play in the top tier of their sport -- who sucks at commentating.)

Which isn't a knock on Lipinski -- on the contrary, it's to her credit that she's good at this second skill set.
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 6:15 PM on February 15, 2018 [1 favorite]


I live in the major training center of Detroit, where you can catch good skaters at local rinks. Yes, I have SOME stories. Among them, 20+ years ago watching a jumping bean running thru her programs at DSC. Never my favorite, but knew she'd give Kwan trouble. 

I am not a fan of T/J as commentators. They talk too much, state the obvious, show their biases. And are often too fluffy - the whole WATCH ME 'tude of the 21st century wears on me.

So I mostly view the (sometimes wonky) alt feed on the app with anonymous, bland commentators. Aside from not having Weinski, it also airs the entire roster of skaters.

For dance I flip to the main coverage. Tanith (hey, another Detroit skater) is professional & usually concise. (A bit overly gabby when her hubby's rivals, my beloved Virtue & Moir, were skating.)

I miss Tracy Wilson. I miss any Canadian commentators.
posted by NorthernLite at 6:41 PM on February 15, 2018


I didn't want to--as someone who felt that Michelle Kwan wuz robbed--like Tara and Johnny, but they've really grown on me. I think they do a good job balancing between stating the obvious for the viewers who only tune in once every four years, and getting into more technical detail. And I like that they're willing to gripe about the current scoring system and also discuss stuff like how good a match someone's music is for their personality.

And they are often hilarious, like when they were calling the US championships and Johnny was explaining that his childhood coach had him try pairs briefly but had described pairs as "the woman is the flower and the man is the stem" and Johnny was all, "And that... was not for me" with hilarious intonation and made it clear that he wanted to be the flower. Heeee.
posted by TwoStride at 7:50 PM on February 15, 2018 [8 favorites]


keep them away from NBC's horse racing coverage

This. If I'm tuning in to NBC's Derby coverage (such as it is) I want background on the horses, trainers, and jockeys - not a bunch of bushwah on who's wearing what in the clubhouse.
posted by e-man at 9:32 PM on February 15, 2018


I miss any Canadian commentators.

I think we pay $5 per month for a VPN and watching the CBC coverage of the CAN-USA Women's Hockey game was such a relief.
posted by GuyZero at 11:13 AM on February 16, 2018


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