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    Sunday, February 15, 1998

    Catriona making waves

    By ROB BRODIE -- Ottawa Sun
      OFTEN, a lot of the talk in sports television columns is about, well, talk.
     We remember the things an announcer said -- clever, dumb or otherwise -- or the things that weren't said. The questions that were asked or should have been.
     It's easy to forget that, as the old song goes, every picture can -- and often does -- tell a story. On a memorable, historic -- and yes, as CBC would put it, super -- Saturday for Canada at the Nagano Games, the images were there. Special images that viewers will file away as enduring memories for years to come.
     The thrill of victory, the agony of defeat ... it was all there for Canadian viewers to see, and to be touched by.
     So let's let a few pictures tell the stories:
     * The captivating smile of Catriona Le May Doan. CBC's Steve Armitage said it's a toothy grin that makes him chuckle just about every time he sees it. Early yesterday, it lit up a futuristic arena in far away Japan the same way it brightened living rooms across a nation. The joy on the face of Canada's golden girl of the speed-skating oval was so obvious to see. It really was true -- when Le May Doan smiled, Canadians everywhere smiled right along with her.
     * Elvis Stojko's grimace of pain. It took every ounce of Stojko's considerable powers to fight off the tears as pain seared through a torn leg muscle after his courageous free skate yesterday morning. No doubt, though, it was an image that left Canadians watching at home misty-eyed -- their hero's golden dream had been shattered. A powerful television moment, to be sure.
     * Sandra Schmirler's leap of joy. If you follow curling, you know the Canadian skip isn't shy about showing her emotions. After a last-rock scare in a semi-final against Britain, here was Schmirler letting loose again. And maybe, for the first time, it became obvious at last -- there's something a little more at stake here than a national or world championship.
     Then again, isn't that what we're treated to night after night during the Olympics.
     Isn't that, when it gets right down to it, the reason we all tune in?
     HIGHS: CBC's Chris Cuthbert keeps showing he's much more than just a mere talking head. The hard-working Cuthbert sets up figure skating analysts Paul Martini and Sandra Bezic with questions and comments that suggest he's done plenty of homework and understands the sport inside out. When looking to hand out TV gold medals (mikes?), that's the kind of preparation you notice in a big way ... Le May Doan's victory also made this much obvious to viewers -- when a Canadian athlete is golden, CBC can be counted on to match it with its own performance ... CBS' jump chart is a useful tool for viewers wanting to score figure skating themselves. Then again, maybe it's just another source of frustration when you see how the people who do the actual marking sort things out.
     LOWS: Who are these people griping that not enough curling has been shown on CBC? This is the Olympics, not the Brier or the Scott Tournament of Hearts, and viewers want -- and deserve to see -- as wide a variety of sports as possible. Just be thankful CBC pays way more attention to the sport than CBS, which treats curling as nothing more than an amusing sideshow ... Heard this from CBS' Andrea Joyce yesterday: "Next up, a preview of the men's figure skating final taking place later tonight." Heard it about 5 p.m., some eight hours after the event had ended. So much for being up front with viewers about what's live and what isn't ... Yes, the color scheme of the on-screen score/time clock on CBC might be a bit much. But at least the graphic exists on CBC's hockey coverage. On CBS, it's sorely missing.
     QUOTABLE: "This is shades of Brian Boitano 10 years ago (in Calgary)." -- Cuthbert, on the brilliant gold-medal skate of Russia's Ilia Kulik.