NEW YORK (AP) — A look at NBC's coverage of the Winter Olympics:
CARILLO TIME: Mary Carillo had her first idea for a feature to run during these Olympics when she was on the plane flying back from the Beijing Games in 2008.
That idea — about Canada's legacy of comedians — found a willing supporter in NBC Sports chief Dick Ebersol, former producer of "Saturday Night Live." NBC plans to air it during its Olympics coverage on, appropriately enough, Saturday night.
A former tennis pro who has covered 10 Olympics, Carillo hosts NBC's late-night telecasts on the games. She's also become the network's go-to features reporter, doing stories that give viewers a taste of the host country or some of the Olympics sports or traditions.
She traveled north to see what a Royal Canadian Mounted Police officer needs to go through for training, and met a blind sled dog. Carillo made three reporting trips to prepare pieces for the Olympics telecast, the first to Austria and the Netherlands in November 2008.
"Sometimes there's a moment in a telecast where you can go someplace else, and say this is what this country is about, maybe this helps explain the people here, and how they got to be how they are," she said. "There's room for these kinds of things and all I know is, I love being able to do them."
One upcoming feature involves a former National Hockey League player, Joe Juneau, who opened a skating academy in Canada's far northern regions, trying to help youngsters in an area where drugs and alcohol are a big problem.
Carillo enjoys diving into stories with a smile and seems game for just about anything. She dined on scorpions in China, and was willing to make a fool of herself in front of an audience trying some of the drills the Mounties go through.
This time, during her trip way up north, she tasted fermented walrus head — all for naught.
"It didn't even make the piece," she said. "I can still taste it."
HIGHLIGHT: Figure skating commentators Tom Hammond, Scott Hamilton and Sandra Bezic made good on the network's less-is-more promise, letting the broadcast breathe during the women's long program. During American Rachael Flatt's free skate, for example, Hamilton interjected only occasionally, to alert viewers to key upcoming moves. Bezic spoke up to mark the halfway point of Flatt's program, making her eligible for bonus points on jumps. Summing up the routine with admirable minimalism, Bezic offered: "Wow. She is really doing it."
LOWLIGHT: Al Trautwig, calling the cross-country leg of the Nordic combined, tried painfully hard to sell the moment as Americans finished first and second — the first time the U.S. has won gold in a Nordic event. As Billy Demong and Johnny Spillane entered the race's final kilometers, Trautwig said, voice hushed: "A little sun starting to shine. Maybe symbolic." Then, as Demong crossed the finish line, Trautwig noted the gold medalist grew up near Lake Placid, N.Y., site of the 1980 Miracle on Ice in hockey. "Billy Demong," Trautwig intoned, "is having his own little miracle."
EXCUSED ABSENCE: Andrea Joyce, the rinkside reporter for figure skating, offered a nice anecdote to remind us that some Olympians are still kids. She noted that Flatt's busy day included plugging away at homework. Flatt was going to ask for an extension, Joyce reported, but her friends kept texting her that they were working hard, too.
EXECUTING THE QUAD: In a single cutaway shot at Pacific Coliseum, NBC found Dorothy Hamill, Peggy Fleming, Tara Lipinski and the mother of Kristi Yamaguchi.
BETTER SAFE: When Canada's Joannie Rochette, whose mother died just days ago, completed her long program, NBC stayed away from family reaction shots. On Tuesday's broadcast, the network misidentified a family friend as Rochette's father.
RATINGS: The final score for the Vancouver games: "American Idol" 3, the Winter Olympics 1. In the last head-to-head competition between the two programs, "Idol" had an average viewership of 22.8 million people, the Nielsen Co. said. The Olympics were at 19 million for those two hours. For the full broadcast, the Olympics average 19.8 million, nearly four million more than the comparable night four years ago.
Associated Press Writer Erin McClam in Vancouver, British Columbia, contributed to this report.