February 12, 2006
Compelling coverage
PERRY LEFKO -- Toronto Sun

It was a golden moment for Canada and the CBC.

When wee Jennifer Heil of Spruce Grove, Alta., posted Canada's first medal -- and the first Olympic medal for a Canadian woman in moguls -- yesterday, it became a compelling moment for television.

And CBC was all over it, before, during and after the historic run by the 22-year-old with the perfect smile.

The broadcast duo of announcer Brenda Irving and analyst Veronica Brenner, roving reporter Mark Kelley and studio host Ron MacLean provided telling words. Some solid images -- in particular, Heil's coach Murray Cluff spitting after her run -- added complementary pictures. The fact the event happened for the first time at night provided a different portrait.

Viewers were told prior to Heil's run -- the final one of the competition because the Canadian had finished first in the qualifying round -- that Heil had to be "a little bit better, a little bit faster" than Norway's Kari Traa, who led to that point. It was later explained Heil had decided not to increase the degree of difficulty with her aerial tricks because "in her heart of hearts" that wasn't the route to go and she wanted to be "100% confident."

Kelley, an acclaimed investigative news reporter, provided an interview shortly after the victory. While indicating he hated to interrupt a family moment with Heil and her parents, Kelley jumped in to his job as a journalist. Aside from an irritating crackling sound from the microphone, the interview went well, particularly with Heil indicating her win was like a dream that she didn't know could come true. It added to the moment when Heil's mother told her daughter: "You worked so hard. You lived your dream. Here it is."

While MacLean proclaimed it a "wonderful moment," he erred by trying to bridge in a segment with alpine skiing announcers Kerrin Lee-Gartner and Scott Oake. It somehow morphed into Lee-Gartner's child-bearing ability.

BITS AND SOUNDBITES

Speaking of hockey, taking time during the Olympic coverage to preview the Leafs-Rangers game to be followed a couple hours later on CBC made for some difficult stickhandling. The visuals of Rangers star Jaromir Jagr taping his sticks, followed by MacLean's comment that he was "packing them for Torino," didn't work. Watching MacLean and Don Cherry try to do a long-distance Coach's Corner had even more tension than usual between the two. But Cherry came through with a good rant on the Rick Tocchet betting scandal and how it is "absolutely ridiculous" what the media has done to Wayne Gretzky. It will be interesting to see how CBC covers Gretzky's appearance at the Olympics ... Watching the women's hockey team annihilate Italy 16-0 after Heil's gold-medal effort was anything but inspiring. The only game that will matter is the Canadians and the U.S. in the final ... Good item by MacLean indicating Canadian long-track speed skater Arne Dankers may have been battling a cold or flu, as evidenced by the fact he was seen blowing his nose before the men's 5,000-metre event. He finished fifth. It was also noted during and after the race that American Chad Hedrick, who won the event and is hoping to win five medals, is a party animal and considered the Paris Hilton of speed skating ... Brian Williams should be on-site at the Olympics instead of positioned in a studio in Toronto. He is the Olympics -- and he keeps good time.