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WNY was one of few places to see CBC's live coverage of gymnastics, announcer's gaffe

This is what I’m thinking in my Olympic diary:

Western New York is one of the few areas in the United States that gets the benefit of CBC-TV’s coverage of the Rio Games.

On Thursday afternoon, that meant WNY viewers who weren’t satisfied with NBC’s live stream of the women’s gymnastics competition that showed the gold medal performance of American Simone Biles and the silver medal performance by teammate Aly Raisman, could watch it live on CBC several hours before NBC’s tape delayed coverage in prime time.

On Thursday night, local viewers also got to see some unintentional comedy relief that made CBC announcer Elliotte Friedman a viral sensation in the States.

Friedman, best known for his work on Hockey Night in Canada, mistakenly confused U.S. swimmer Michael Phelps with his friend and rival Ryan Lochte as they swam in the 200-meter individual medley final.

After saying that Lochte had finally beaten Phelps and that Phelps might not even medal (he won the gold, Lochte didn't medal), Friedman realized he had the wrong lanes they were swimming,  apologized and corrected himself and issued this apology:

Few Americans outside of Buffalo, Detroit and a few other areas that get CBC saw it live.

But it became a national Twitter sensation and is all over the internet this morning.

I was watching NBC’s coverage of the race, but my son who lives in Virginia alerted me that Friedman was getting almost as much Twitter attention as Donald Trump.

Let’s hope he can eventually live it down.

One thing was missing from CBC’s coverage of the women’s gymnastics Thursday: We didn’t get to see any shots of the agony that Raisman’s parents, Lynn and Rick, were going through. You had to wait for NBC’s coverage to see that.

Channel 2 sports director Adam Benigni tried in his sports report at 6:25 p.m. Thursday night to spoil NBC’s delayed coverage of the gymnastics and avoided telling viewers what had happened a few hours earlier. He just said that Biles and Raisman "competed," not that they won.

Only three or four minutes later on the same station, “NBC Nightly News” anchor Lester Holt announced Biles had the gold and Raisman the silver.

In a Twitter exchange, Benigni said there is no edict to keep the news from viewers before NBC carries the competition. “For years, we have chosen to try not to spoil results for viewers," he wrote. "We get both sides of it.”

If I were Benigni, I’d revisit the policy. If Holt thinks it is acceptable to report history has been made, it should be OK for NBC affiliates to do it. That's especially true in an area like WNY that has CBC coverage. If viewers don’t want to know what happened, they should stop watching sports reports.

NBC host Bob Costas noted at the end of Thursday’s program that the tie in the women’s 100-meter freestyle that resulted in American Simone Manuel and Canada’s Penny Oleksiak both receiving gold medals also meant that, in a rare occurrence, both national anthems would be played.

It would have been a good time to mention that Oleksiak’s father, Richard, has United States citizenship. He graduated from the Nichols School and had a Hall of Fame athletic career there.

Still, hearing both anthems was a very nice way to end NBC’s night, especially in a border town like Buffalo where fans are used to hearing both anthems before hockey games.


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