By ROB BRODIE -- Ottawa Sun
One week still to go, and we're declaring it official.
These are the most difficult Olympic Games ever for TV watchers to stay on top of -- and we're not just talking about being committed to seeing as much of it live as possible.
Let's just say Nagano was a picnic by comparison.
While the time difference was similar (14 hours ahead in Japan, as opposed to the 15 hours we're dealing with in Sydney), it was easy enough to develop a set viewing routine. The CBC was again Canadians' main source for English-language coverage.
Events rarely went much beyond 3:30 a.m., before live coverage resumed from roughly 5-9 a.m. But CBC helped viewers with their shuteye by turning around the exact same package immediately from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. If you chose to sleep in, you woke up knowing it was easy enough to catch up.
Sydney, by comparison, has been a viewer's nightmare.
The sheer volume of events going on in Australia makes it impossible for TV to do the quick turnaround with a full package. There are replays, but you're never sure when.
Consider this, too: CBC offered viewers roughly 240 hours of coverage in Nagano. Between them, CBC and new partner TSN will serve up at least 495 in Sydney.
You can stay up until 5:30 a.m. to watch the fate of, say, bronze-medal winning diver Anne Montminy, unfold live.
Or tune in the minute you get up, and cross your fingers the replay you want to see airs. Yeah, there's the trusty VCR, too. But tell me when you'd watch that tape.
These are the Olympics that are always on TV, after all.
THE OVERNIGHT SHIFT: With two Canadians in the hunt for medals at exactly the same time, what's a TV network to do? Drag out the split screen boxes, which the CBC used to great effect to keep viewers in touch with Montminy and high jumper Mark Boswell. Thanks to that, we never missed a wet step, in the pool or at rainy Stadium Australia ... Outspoken 1992 Canadian Olympic hurdle champ Mark McKoy had this to say to CBC's Ron MacLean about Toronto possibly getting the 2008 Olympics: "If we keep doing what we're doing (in amateur sport), we're going to have the poorest results of a host country in Olympic history."
DOWN UNDUH TALK: If you tuned into CBC's afternoon show yesterday, you saw glimpses of two rather obscure Olympic sports -- fencing and sailing.
Nice to see these relative unknowns, like Gracefield's Caroll-Ann Alie, get some much deserved face time ... Nepean rower Alison Korn is so well spoken in TV interviews like the one we saw yesterday with the CBC's Terry Leibel, you'd think a network might consider handing her a microphone.
QUOTABLE: "Other than passing the bar exam and winning a medal at the Olympic Games, I'm not sure what Anne has done this year." -- CBC's MacLean, tongue obviously in cheek, about Montminy, a lawyer in Montreal away from the diving tank.