For Pete's Sake

‘Here comes Diggins!’ Finish of Olympic cross-country skiing enthralls viewers

Jessica Diggins of the United States, celebrates after winning the gold medal ahead of Sweden’s Stina Nilsson in the women’s team sprint freestyle cross-country skiing final at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
Jessica Diggins of the United States, celebrates after winning the gold medal ahead of Sweden’s Stina Nilsson in the women’s team sprint freestyle cross-country skiing final at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. The Associated Press

NBC has caught a lot of grief during the Winter Olympics.

Announcer Bode Miller apologized for saying a female skier’s performance could be affected because she had gotten married. The network fired an announcer for saying Japan, which colonized Korea from 1910 to 1945, served as an important example in South Korea’s cultural and economic transformation.

NBC also left the women’s Super-G coverage and told viewers Anna Veith would win, but Ester Ledecka took the gold medal in the biggest upset of the Games.

But on Wednesday, NBC’s coverage of the team sprint freestyle cross-country ski race was fantastic. Analyst Chad Salmela didn’t try to hide his emotions as Jessie Diggins rallied down the stretch and, along with teammate Kikkan Randall, won the first gold medal for the United States in the history of the event.

Salmela cried out: “Here comes Diggins! Here comes Diggins!”

As play-by-play announcer Steve Schlanger excitedly called the action, Salmela kept yelling, “Yes!” and then “Gold!” when the U.S. team won by 0.19 seconds.

Here’s a little secret: The announcing crew wasn’t in South Korea.

The Minneapolis Star Tribune reported that NBC has announcers call some of the Olympic sports, including cross-country skiing, biathalon, and events, from its International Broadcast Center in Stamford, Conn.

That mattered little to people who watched the race and were thrilled by Diggins’ effort and Salmela’s enthusiasm:

The Winter Olympics will begin in PyeongChang, South Korea, this week. Here are some facts you should know before the Games begin.

Pete Grathoff: 816-234-4330, @pgrathoff

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