Coming Sunday: What’s it all about, Angie?

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Simi Valley native Angela Ruggiero hasn’t just seen the lopsided scores that have been part of the women’s hockey tournament at the Vancouver Winter Olympics. She’s been helping produce them.

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With two goals and two assists from her defenseman position, the 30-year-old Ruggiero has heard the talk that there’s too big a discrepancy between the haves — Canada and the U.S. — and have nots — Russia, China, etc. — during the preliminary rounds that ended Thursday.

After the U.S. finished off Finland 6-0 in its final game, coming after a 12-1 win over China and 13-0 over Russia, there has been some worry that women’s hockey could go the way of women’s softball in the Olympic movement — disappear because of a lack of balance in the world’s performances.

Canada won its three games 41-2; the U.S. won its three games by a combined 31-1. The U.S. and Canada have combined lost just four games — two to Sweden, and two to Finland — since the women’s world championship was sanctioned by the International Ice Hockey Federation in 1990.

“I put the onus on the federations,” Ruggiero said in a story posted by the Toronto Globe and Mail (linked here). “Especially the countries that have men’s programs like Russia.”

These are the fourth Olympics for women’s hockey, and the problem, says international federation president Rene Fasel, has been consistent: a lack of female players. There are 700 million women in China, he points out, and yet only 166 play hockey. Canada has 85,000 players, and the USA boasts almost 60,000.

“The IIHF and the federations need to step it up and help their women develop as much as the men,” Ruggiero said in a USA Today story (linked here). ” It’s disappointing to see a country with a tradition and history as much as Russia not have a medal contending team.”

A Vancouver Star columnist wondered if it really would be beneficial for the women’s hockey movement if the U.S. met Canada for the gold.

“Give us some time,” Ruggiero told her, after the U.S. beat China (story linked here). “You can’t expect a whole nation to adopt a sport overnight and have thousands of girls start playing. They’re going to see these girls play in the Olympics, regardless of the score, and say, `Hey, maybe that’s a sport I want to try.”’

Ruggiero’s concerns about the future of her sport have put her in a position to do more than just talk about it. She’s on the ballot to become an IOC member of the athlete’s advisory board. She’ll find out Wednesday if she’s won the election to a seat on the board — which would make her the only U.S. representative.

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Ruggiero talked to us recently about her future goals with women’s hockey, her past achievements and her present state of mind as the U.S. squad goes for its second women’s hockey gold in the last four Olympics. The Q-and-A will be in Sunday’s editions.

Meanwhile, other stories that have been written about Ruggiero leading up to and through the Winter Games:

== A feature on NBCOlympics.com that includes many family photos (linked here)

== A feature in the Ventura County Star (linked here) that quotes her dad, Bill: “Angela always said she was going to play in the NHL and I didn’t have the heart to tell a 7-year-old you are not playing in the NHL. You are a girl. At the time they didn’t have anything for women basically. There was no world championship, no Olympics, no Division I college programs. But thankfully, things progressed over the years.”

== A feature in the New York Times (linked here), the Detroit Free Press (linked here) and the Associated Press (linked here)

== The Vancouver Olympic site link to women’s hockey (linked here)

== Her philanthropic side (linked here)

== On her opinion of the “unique” looking medals (linked here) that some have called “microwaved Frisbees”: “I think they’re awesome. One thing about the Winter Olympics is the originality of the medals. Haven’t seen them in person, but I hope I get the honor!”

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Life on the DL

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I’ve just about slept through the entire Winter Olympics. Not so much by choice, but by a flu bug and chest cold that’s knocked me out into another antbiotic anthem.

No media column Friday. An Angela Ruggiero Q-and-A is slated for Sunday. Otherwise, just resting up for Week 2 after a very weak one.

Other than that, am I really missing anything?

Fox Sports Radio sends a transcript of Chris Myers and Steve Hartman having Charles Barkley on their show today to talk about Tiger Woods. Barkley says he agrees with Ernie Els that Woods is being selfish by holding a press conference during the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship in Arizona.

Barkley: “I one hundred percent agree with Ernie.”

Myers: “Oh, OK. Well that’s cool.”

And before heading back to napland, we’re trying to piece together the thought of Hannah Storm in red go-go boots and a very short Catholic school plaid skirt. We can actually see it … but not on her (go to this link). So tarty …

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Play it forward: Feb. 15-21 on your sports calendar

Highlights of the week ahead in sports, both here and afar:

TODAY

Dog show: Westminster Kennel Club, USA Network, 5 p.m.; CNBC, 6 p.m.

Stump, the 10-year-old Sussex Spaniel, is the defending champ here. We’re stumped to provide any more info beyond that.

Winter Olympics, Channel 4, 8 to 11:30 p.m.:

Bode Miller’s run in the men’s downhill has been pushed back to tonight (actually today, but you won’t see it until tonight). If the weather on the mountain is still a mess, the figure skating pairs gold-medal night will make up most of prime-time viewing.

TUESDAY

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NBA: Lakers vs. Golden State, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., FSW:

Against the Clippers last week, Warriors rookie Stephen Curry had 36 points, 13 assists and 10 rebounds in a 30-point win. He’s the first Golden State player in 17 years to even get a triple-double. The last: Chris Webber, also against the Clippers. And they count those in the record book? OK, Kobe, get back on the court and guard Curry.

NBA: Clippers at Portland, 7 p.m., Prime Ticket:

Since Kim Hughes has taken over, the Clippers are … even more useless than when Mike Dunleavy was there before he excused himself. Maybe it’s because they have a coach named Kim.

Winter Olympics, USA Network, 9 a.m.; MSNBC, 2:30 p.m.; Channel 4, 8 p.m. to midnight:

In the morning, the U.S. men’s hockey team has an early wake-up call against Switzerland, featuring Ducks goalie Jonas Hiller. In the afternoon, the U.S. women’s hockeys quad takes on Russia. In prime time, it’s the men’s figure skating short program and Lindsey Jacobellis trying to redeem herself in the women’s snowboard cross — going up against “American Idol” picking its 24 semifinalists, two episodes of “Lost” and the Best in Show selection for the Westminster Kennel Club. Who are you betting on there?

WEDNESDAY

Winter Olympics, Channel 4, 8 to 11:30 p.m.:

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It’s Shaun White’s white-out moment again.

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The gold-medal winner in the ’06 Winter Games defends his title in the halfpipe. He won his third consecutive Winter X Games superpipe gold last month, hitting his head on the halfpipe in a scary crash during practice, then using the same trick in competition to win. He also claims that “Flying Tomato” nickname is so 2006. Conan O’Brien called him “Animal” during a recent appearance, a reference to the wild-haired Muppet who bangs on the drums, and White says: “The Animal has become my thing here.” Meanwhile, Lindsey Vonn will get her first test, perhaps, in the women’s Alpine downhill. There’s also gold to give out in the men’s 1,000-meter speedskating. Meanwhile, Lindsay Vonn is supposed to see if the women’s downhill will finally take place.

NBA: Clippers vs. Atlanta, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., Prime Ticket:

The Hawks’ Jamal Crawford set an NBA record against the Clippers a couple of weeks ago. Wanna guess? He registered his 24th career 4-point play, passing the record held by Indiana’s Reggie Miller. Crawford did it playing 744 fewer games than Miller, more than 26,000 fewer minutes and with about 3,300 fewer shots from behind the arc “That’s huge,” Crawford noted, “hopefully I will continue to add to it.” Why wouldn’t he? He’s playing the Clippers again.

Golf: PGA Tour WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship first round, in Marana, Ariz., Golf Channel, 11 a.m. (semifinals and final on Saturday and Sunday, Channel 2, 11 a.m.)

The top 64 players in the world go in the March Madness format. Except, of course, for Tigers.

THURSDAY

NBA: Lakers vs. Boston, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., TNT:

Last meeting: The Lakers’ 90-89 victory at in Boston, thanks to another Kobe Bryant clutch hoop, and Ray Allen missing at the buzzer, was noted for a lot of players touching each other. Ron Artest, you’re up again as the primary enforcer. The NBA trading deadline is also today at noon. One last swap option: Lakers send Adam Morrison to the Celtics for … it’s their choice.

College basketball: USC at Washington, 7:30 p.m., Prime Ticket; UCLA at Washington State, 5:30 p.m., FSW.

WSU’s Klay Thompson, who was leading the Pac-10 with a 22.8 points-per-game average, scored just 13 in the Cougars’ 74-62 loss at UCLA back on Jan. 23. WSU never led in that game.

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Winter Olympics, USA Network, 9 a.m.; MSNBC, 2:30 p.m.; Channel 4, 8 p.m. to midnight:

Evan Lysacek comes in as the No. 1 men’s skater in the world; U.S. teammate Johnny Weir is No. 8. The free-skate gold medal is at stake for one of them. In the morning, the U.S. men’s hockey team faces Norway; in the afternoon, the U.S. women’s hockey team takes on Finland.

FRIDAY

Winter Olympics, USA Network, 9 a.m.; Channel 4, 8 to 11:30 p.m.:

Don’t wait for the men’s gold-medal run in the skeleton set for prime time. Focus on the U.S. women taking on the pesky Russians in live curling during the afternoon slot.

SATURDAY

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NASCAR: Nationwide Series Stater Brothers 300 at Fontana, 2:30 p.m., ESPN2:

What we learned about Danica Patrick from last week’s Daytona appearance: Wrecks are just part of the deal. She wasn’t so much reckless in her Nationwide series debut, and the longer she can stay on Auto Club Speedway today, the better the post-party situation.

NBA: Clippers vs. Sacramento, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m.

Tickets have been sold. The NBA says it must be played.

Winter Olympics, Channel 4, 8 to 11:30 p.m.:

Again, will the women’s Super G event include Lindsey Vonn? At least the bobsleds make their debut.

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College basketball: USC at Washington State, 2 p.m.; UCLA at Washington; 6 p.m.; ESPN:

Given some national exposure, the Bruins can’t be all that comfortable going into Seattle knowing that when they last met the Huskies, they needed Mustafa Abdul-Hamid’s jumper at the buzzer to win 62-61 at Pauley Pavilion. Washington is ridiculous 16-1 at home this season.

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SUNDAY

NASCAR: Auto Club 500 at Fontana, 11 a.m., Channel 11:

Word on the streets of El Cajon is that native son Jimmie Johnson — winner of the four NASCAR Sprint Cup titles, voted AP Male Athlete of the Year and NASCAR Driver of the Decade — will soon get his due. The El Cajon City Council voted a couple of weeks ago to rename part of a two-mile street in the city Jimmie Johnson Way. Some many not notice. That same piece of street is currently named Johnson Avenue, named after a local pioneer whose first name isn’t even known by city historians. The speed limit will remain 40 mph. They drive much faster in Fontana, on or off the track. Just watch out for those potholes.

Winter Olympics, MSNBC, 4 p.m. and 9 p.m.; Channel 4, 8 to 11:30 p.m.:

NBC may be TV partners with the NHL to do a game of the week during this season, but when the U.S. faces Canada today in a highly-anticipated men’s hockey tournament, the game has been sent to MSNBC to be carried live at 4 p.m. Some puckheads are furious about feeling slighted, but …. In another marquee matchup, Finland meets Sweden (9 p.m.). Meanwhile, on NBC tape-delayed prime time, it’s figure skating original dance.

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The Media Learning Curve: Jan. 29-Feb. 12

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Good people will pay for good information, whether it’s putting the New York Times online as a subscriber service, or taking up a collection to send a reporter to spring training.

When Washington Nationals beat writer Matt Zuckerman was laid off at the Washington Times — the paper recently dropped its sports section — he started a blog NatsInsider.com in late January.

We might have been more inclined to start a paper drive, but when Zuckerman considered what would take to survive a six-week stint at the National’s training site in Viera, Fla., and report on the team activities — just as he had been the last five years for the stinkin’ newspaper — he instead went to asking for reader donations through a PayPal account.

Brilliant.

He thinks he can make it work on $5,000. He received nearly twice that much in pledges so far, from more than 200 contributors. And he’ll keep accepting financial help through Wednesday. He even set it up as something like an NPR pledge drive — for $20, you get this; for $40, you get this …

From this blog post (linked here), you can still help fund the cause in what could be a precident-setting event for consumer journalism.

We’re hoping it works, the customers are pleased, and others will be as resourceful in keeping the coverage alive.

Meanwhile, other stuff we want to wrap our media-sized brains around from the things we hunted and gathered over the last 14 days:

== By the time he hits 55, Chris Berman could high-tail it out of ESPN and to the NFL Network. We hope. But we doubt his ego would let him do that. (linked here).

== Fordham University is going to give 92-year-old Ernie Harwell a lifetime achievement award in May — one named after Vin Scully (linked here). That’s nice and all, but even Harwell knows he probably won’t live but another couple of months because of his health (linked here).

== Not many who can think and vote at the same time agree that a Kobe Bryant excused absence will make a difference in their lack of interest for the NBA All-Star Game (linked here).

== The latest on Warren Sapp, still waiting to find out if he has a job with the NFL Network (linked here)

== The latest on Michael Irvin and whether he’ll get another radio show on ESPN (linked here)

== Not sure why ESPN360.com had to rebrand to ESPN3.com, but it has (linked here)

== Fox — not just Fox Soccer Channel — likes soccer, too (linked here)

== It’s OK with us if we never find out the names of other TV sideline reporters who this Erin Andrews’ perv spied on (linked here)

== It’s also OK with us if the Steve Phillips thing just goes away, but then he shows up on “The Today Show” and … all fat chick broke loose (linked here)

== Still waiting for Versus to return to DirecTV … and waiting … and the NHL playoffs are coming … and we’re waiting (linked here)

== SI grades the Super Bowl coverage … mostly As and Bs (linked here)

== How did the Super Bowl draw the biggest audience ever for a TV show? The perfect snowstorm (linked here). But even Alan Alda isn’t that impressed (linked here). Although the record number of commercials were more storm damaged (linked here)

== “Shaq Vs.” is coming back for a second season — and might include eating contests and spelling bees, since he lost all six events in Season 1 (linked here).

== A “massive tidbit” from the “massively underrated” me raised the hair on the back of my neck (linked here). “I don’t know who to be more impressed with: Hoffarth for going there or (Larry) Burnett for being so candid,” writes Brooks Melchior. I’d go with the candidness on Burnett’s part.

AND FINALLY:

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== Yes, Virginia, there was a problem with reporting the final score of the Super Bowl. (linked here)

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The Media Learning Curve: Whoop, there it is

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WhoopAss, as in a “big ol’ can of,” was the name of an energy drink that claimed to “revitalize attitude and restore faith in mankind,” cranked out by those snarky guys at the Seattle-based Jones Soda Company.

Somehow it disappeared in 2008, but it was said to be actually quite popular in Canada, even though the character on the front has a kid making a fist with the letters “U-S-A” across his knuckles.

Our theory that NBC will do all it can to exploit not just American gold digging in the Winter Olympics coverage from Vancouver, but how the U.S. does it at the expense of Canada and ruining their party, is all over today’s media column (linked here).

And we also discuss it with Ken Jeffries on the Daily News podcast (linked here).

So as you’re gearing up for your first three-hour delay of something important — the 6 p.m. opening ceremony tonight won’t be on your TV until about 9 p.m. — here are some other cans to open:

== NBC will have Bob Costas and Matt Lauer co-anchor the thing tonight (7:30 p.m.), with Al Michaels popping in as well as Brian Williams, Tom Brokaw, Mary Carillo, Cris Collinsworth and Dan Patrick. The Weather Channel’s Jim Cantore will do everything but make it snow. The order of entrance is in French alphabetical order, but Greece always goes first, Canada now goes last and USA will be No. 82 in line.

== Steve Physioc and Marques Johnson have the FSN national call of Sunday’s USC-UCLA men’s game from Galen Center (Prime Ticket, 7 p.m.) Jim Watson and Mary Murphy call Saturday’s Trojans-Bruins’ women’s contest (Prime Ticket, 11 a.m.)

== FSW airs a half-hour special (Saturday, 7 p.m.) called “Freeway Faceoff: Bound for BC” that highlights the Kings and Ducks players headed for the Winter Olympics in Vancouver. Set to discuss matters are the Kings’ Jack Johnson, Dustin Brown and Jonathan Quick (for Team USA) and Drew Doughty(for Team Canada), plus the Ducks’ Bobby Ryan and Ryan Whitney (Team USA), Corey Perry (Team Canada) and goalie Jonas Hiller (for Team Switzerland). The show leads into the Kings-Colorado telecast at 7:30 p.m. and reairs at 10:30 p.m.

== NHL.com will also use Kings.com and FSW reporter Heidi Androl to host its coverage of the Games from Vancouver (linked here).

== The NFL Network has claimed coverage of the revived Arena Football League, which will return on Friday, April 2 at 5 p.m. with an AFL Game of the Week telecast for 18 weeks. The playoffs start in August leading into the 2010 ArenaBowl at a yet-to-be-determined facility. No doubt recently retired QB Kurt Warner could be considered as a possible analyst for the game coverage.

The NFL Net notes that Arena Football was actually invented in 1981 by Jim Foster, a promotion manager at NFL Properties at that time who went on to launch Arena Football league play in May, 1987. NBC and ESPN are among the networks that have carried games, with ESPN holding joint ownership in the old AFL until it shut down after the 2008 season.

The 15-team AFL will not include a team in Los Angeles, but has places such as Chicago, Dallas, Tampa Bay, Orlando, Salt Lake City and Phoenix on board.

== Entertainment Weekly cites multiple sources that “Friday Night Lights” will end after Season Five wraps up in June (linked here). The fourth season of the show ended its DirecTV run Thursday, but it doesn’t debut on NBC until April 30. The fifth season starts on DirecTV in the fall, and may not be seen on NBC until 2011.

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== NBA Digital says it will have more than 50 hours of exclusive content to today through Sunday with the NBA All Star Game and surrounding loudness from Dallas. At the All-Star Scene site (www.nba.com/allstarscene), players and celebs will shoot HD pocket video cameras. Included is Christopher Mintz-Plasse (McLovin from “Superbad”). Meanwhile, NBA TV going 20 hours with stuff such as behind-the-scenes on media day and the West and East team practices.

== Part of tonight’s TNT one-hour special on the 10th anniversary of “Inside the NBA” (8 to 9 p.m.) is this insightful clip (above) of when Kobe Bryant came into the studio to demonstrate on Kenny Smith how he sets himself up for a game-winning shot — hesitating, counting the clock down in his head, clipping the defender’s arms — but then he can’t hit the shot:

Best of Inside: Kobe Bryant Visits Kenny’s Court from Turner Sports on Vimeo.

== HBO will reair the first three half-hour episodes of “24/7 Jimmie Johnson: Race to Daytona” on Saturday (11 p.m.). Episode 4 finishes the series Tuesday (10 p.m.) with a follow-up as to how he did in Sunday’s race.

== CBS somehow sends Super Bowl weary Jim Nantz back out with Nick Faldo for the final two rounds of the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am (Saturday and Sunday, noon). During Saturday’s coverage, which traditionally focuses more on the celebs, Nantz and Faldo will do interviews from the 17th tee, rather than have Gary McCord handle it (he’s still at the 16th).

== Wired.com announced it has added a sports blog Playbook (http://www.wired.com/playbook/), starting with how athletes at the Winter Olympics are confused about Twitter rules.

== SportsMediaWatch.com reports (linked here) that the final round of the Northern Trust Open at Riviera last Sunday on NBC had a 1.9 overnight rating, down 46 percent from a year ago and the lowest overnight for the event since at least ’02.

== AND FINALLY:

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AP Photo/J Pat Carter
Danica Patrick talks to her crew chief Tony Eury Jr. and other team members during the practice session for the NASCAR Nationwide Series auto race in Daytona Beach, Fla. Wednesday.

== ESPN vice president of motorsports Rich Feinberg , on how Saturday’s coverage of the Nationwide race (ESPN2, 10:15 a.m.) won’t be all about Danica Patrick:

“We actually talked about that in our staff meeting this morning. First of all, I watched the ARCA race, and I thought SPEED’s presentation was very balanced. I enjoyed it. There was a lot of Danica, but the reality is that was why I personally turned on the race, so it gave me what I was looking for.

“As big a story as that is, there are a lot of other stories here. First and foremost, it’s about racing in Daytona. It’s the biggest race for a lot of people. You win at Daytona and things change for you. And that’s going to be our primary thing. After that, the next biggest story, and quite frankly opportunity for all of us, is Danica. It’s our strong belief that there will be people that turn on Saturday’s Nationwide telecast that perhaps don’t watch a lot of Nationwide races or NASCAR at all, because of the interest in her.

“We want to serve that curiosity. We want to serve that interest because our belief is if they like what they see, and we provide them what they’re interested in, they may come back next week, and next week, and watch Fox’ Daytona 500 coverage (Sunday), and read more stories. The more people that watch, the more successful the entire sport is.

“It’s a balance thing but we also view it as an opportunity.”

Truth is, Patrick’s stock car racing debut last week put Speed Channel on the map. That race gave Speed 2.6 million viewers, compared to 1.3 million a year go. That the highest-rated ARCA telecast ever, and the most-watched race of any kind in Speed TV history. It almost had as many viewers watching Fox’s coverage of Daytona 500 qualifying on the same day (2.4 million), even though Fox is in 40 million more homes than Speed.

Who are you kidding? Just fire up the Danica-Cam and let it play out itself. Especially if clods like this are getting in her face:

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(AP Photo/Terry Renna)
Danica Patrick signs an autograph for race fan Steve Burke of Winter Springs, Fla., during the NASCAR Nationwide Series auto racing practice at Daytona International Speedway on Thursday.

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Your favorite Winter Olympic-themed flick … it’s cool

MovieTickets.com asked moviegoers to pick the greatest Winter Olympic movie of all-time.

The results:

1. Cool Runnings (1993) – 40 percent
2. Blades of Glory (2007) – 22 percent
3. Miracle (2004) – 20 percent
4. The Cutting Edge (1992) – 14 percent
5. Downhill Racer (1969) – 4 percent
(Total votes 14,967)

Our call:

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1. Downhill Racer (’69). Robert Redford plays David Chappellet, pre-Bode Miller. He’s pissed off at his coach (Gene Hackman) most of the time. According to “The Ultimate Book of Sports Movies” by Ray Didinger and Glen Macnow, Redford did his own skiing, but only had a stunt double (former ski racer Joe Jay Jalbert) when he needed to fall down. What really makes this film stick with us is the movie’s tagline: “How fast must a man go to get where he’s at?” Never end a promo with a preposition.

2. Ice Castles. (1978). Robby Benson, hot off his awkward appearance as Henry Steel in “One On One,” is pitted up with real-life figure skater Lynn-Holly Johnson, who suddenly goes blind (!) after a skating fall. (What is it with eye issues in skating movies?) Our boy Rob pulls her back and makes her realize she can still compete in the Winter Olympics. Can’t you see how good you are? Oh, right … Just listen to the Marvin Hamlisch score and dream big.

3. Miracle on Ice (1981). Not the really good version six years ago with Kurt Russell as Herb Brooks. Here, it’s Karl Malden as Herbie in a made-for-TV flick just a year after it happened. Steve Guttenberg and Andrew Stevens are also in it, which gives it a dash of “Slap Shot.” Don’t view this one sober.

4. The Cutting Edge (’92). Without this, there’s no “Blade of Glory.” D. B. Sweeney goes from hockey player to figure skater and gets matched up with Moira Kelly. Can they co-exist?

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5. Cool Runnings (’93). John Candy tries, but really can’t pull it off in this Disney flick that seems to be one big ad for Red Stripe beer.

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How Vancouver is trying to make sure these Games mean something

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(AP Photo/The Seattle Times, Mike Siegel)
Former Olympic downhill skier Phil Mahre, left, passes the Olympic flame to Canadian torchbearer Chamila Anthonypillai on the Canadian side of the U.S.-Canadian border at Peace Arch Park on Tuesday morning in Blaine, Wash. The Olympic flame entered the U.S. at Blaine, Wash., for the only time on its 106-day journey across Canada in the longest domestic torch relay in Olympic history.

By David Crary
The Associated Press

VANCOUVER, British Columbia — A carbon-neutral torch relay. A multimillion dollar partnership with Canada’s aboriginals. Bouquets for medal winners made by former prostitutes and drug addicts.

Even before the first event — and the first big protest rally — organizers of the Winter Games claim to have set new Olympic standards for environmental and social responsibility.

A progress report released Wednesday detailed the scope of the efforts by the Vancouver Organizing Committee, extending far beyond now-expected efforts to minimize environmental damage and maximize conservation.

“We have forged a new level of sustainability performance for the Olympics,” said VANOC’s CEO, John Furlong.

Continue reading

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Globies on Ice: Not so nice

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AP Photo/Craig Ruttle
Kris “Hi-Lite” Bruton of the Harlem Globetrotters shoots and scores wearing a goalie mask as his team took on the Washington Generals during a basketball game on the outdoor ice rink at Lasker Rink in New York’s Central Park today.

The Associated Press

The Harlem Globetrotters have a new way to beat the Washington Generals — on ice.

The famed basketball barnstormers played on a hockey rink for the first time in their 84-year history today, putting on a show in New York’s Central Park ahead of a tour of the area.

Both teams wore ice cleats on their shoes but the Globetrotters’ mascot appeared unable to find ones that fit his cartoonish sneakers, and wound up adding some unintentional slapstick to the routine.

The Globetrotters’ Kris “Hi-Lite” Bruton put on an old-school goalie mask and used a hockey stick to bat down a shot. The Generals grimly stuck to their usual brand of basketball — and lost 32-15.

The Globetrotters (official site linked here) have their annual appearance in Southern California this weekend: Saturday at 1 and 7 p.m. at Honda Center in Anaheim; Sunday at 1 and 6 p.m. at Staples Center and Monday at 1 p.m. in Ontario. The team is honoring former Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda before their 1 p.m. game Sunday at Staples Center. Lasorda was born in 1927, the same year the Harlem Globetrotters played their first-ever road game in Hinckley, Ill., on Jan. 7, 1927.

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You were expecting Cloris Leachman driving a Toyota?

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Lindsey Vonn wearing nothing but protective snow cones wouldn’t have been too bad.

But it’s Mrs. Andy Roddick who’ll be the latest to be banned in high school computer searches, middle-school libraries and kindergarden teacher’s lounges.

It just goes with the territory.

That Brooklyn Decker landed the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit cover this year is no real surprise. The element is that SI seems to want to revive is that girl-next-condo, with a nice yellow bikini. Although we believe her top was probably too big, because it keeps falling off.

Decker, talking to the Associated Press, compared it to covers from the 1980s or ’90s, when Elle Macpherson had that friendly, sun-loving look.

Roddick may have made some SI covers of his own — oh, wait, he’s never made a cover — but the 22-year-old Decker has some athletic background. She ran hurdles for her high school track team in North Carolina, played soccer and did some competitive cheerleading.

“This celebrates the girls and their personalities,” Decker said of her cover. “I think it’s why they get such beautiful pictures.”

David Letterman gets to show it off first on Monday’s show (she’ll be on tonight’s show):

Decker with the Dan Patrick Show guys in Miami last week:

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Play it forward: Feb. 8-14 on your sports calendar

Highlights of the week ahead in sports, both here and afar:

TODAY

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NBA: Lakers vs. San Antonio, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., TNT:
Eva Longoria-Parker can’t be desperate enough to want to come to this game and get some national TV exposure, right? Is Tony even playing or is that ankle giving him trouble again? This is the Spurs’ annual “Rodeo Trip” where they take the road for eight games because of some hoe-down in San Antonio. L.A. has the Grammy Break. San Antonio has the Achy Breaky Break.

NHL: Kings at Ducks, Honda Center, 7 p.m., Prime Ticket:
A win over the Ducks would make it an even 10 straight for the Kings. A Ducks win would make it 10 wins in a row at home. That’s something else. Meanwhile, it’s four down and two to go in the series after this latest slugfest. There’s one more home-and-home on April 3 and 6, a week before the playoffs start — and perhaps, the Ducks will still be scrambling for the No. 8 spot.

TUESDAY

NBA: Clippers vs. Utah, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., Prime Ticket:
Kim Hughes. That’s not a player on the Sparks, but the new Clippers coach? Hmmm. So far, no wins. C’mon, Kimmy.

WEDNESDAY

NBA: Lakers at Utah, 6 p.m., Channel 9; Clippers at Golden State, 7:30 p.m., Prime Ticket:

After these two games, whatta say we knock of until next week and let those who didn’t make the upcoming NBA All-Star Game head over to Hawaii, soak up some rays, hang out with the NFL Pro Bowl guys …. what do you mean?

THURSDAY

Golf: PGA Tour: AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, first round, Golf Channel, noon to 3 p.m. (final round, Channel 2, noon to 3:30 p.m.):
Celebrities who are supposed to play: Billy Murray … why do you need to know any more? George Lopez, Tom Brady, Ray Romano, Tony Romo, Vin Gill and Kelly Slater will tag along for the whale watching. And to watch Chris Berman.

NHL: Kings vs. Edmonton, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., FSW:
Last meeting: A Kings’ 3-2 road win back in the middle of December, when Sean O’Donnell somehow ended a drought of 157 games without a goal to tally the game-winner with 4:33 remaining.

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FRIDAY

Winter Olympics: Opening ceremony, 7:30 p.m., Channel 4:
In 2011, Vancouver’s BC Place will unveil an innovative, energy-saving retractable roof. But not in time for the Opening Ceremonies of the 23rd Winter Games, making it the first time this event will take place in doors. This warms our heart. By the way, BC Place can be rented out for movie shoots — don’t they shoot all films in Vancouver now? It’s already been used in “The Lizzy McGuire Movie” and “Best in Show.” Hang around long enough and they’ll start on “Tooth Fairy 2.”

SATURDAY

Winter Olympics: 2 to 6 p.m. and 8 to 11:30 p.m., Channel 4:
Apolo Ohno has a chance to win gold in the men’s 1,500 meter short track in the prime-time edition of Day 2. Before that, the first gold medal will be given out in ski jumping, men’s 5,000-meter speed skating and the women’s biathlon during the daytime coverage.

NHL: Kings vs. Colorado, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., FSW:
After this contest, the league takes a hiatus until March so some players can compete in the Winter Olympics hockey competition for their countries. The others can sit around, eat donuts and play foosball.

SUNDAY

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College basketball: UCLA at USC, Galen Center, 7 p.m., FSW:
BIG SCORE: Way back when — it had to be less than a month ago — the Trojans recorded a 67-46 thumping over the Bruins — the 21-point margin was the greatest ever for a Trojan team at Pauley Pavilion and the most against at UCLA team in 65 years. “I’m embarrassed for our team,” UCLA coach Ben Howland said. “I feel embarrassed for the program, for the former players and coaches. That’s all you can say, it was embarrassing.” Not as embarrassing as it would be if the Trojans beat the Bruins this time at Galen Center by more than 34 points — that’s the all-time margin (60-26) set back in 1940.

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NBA: All-Star Game, TNT, 5 p.m.
KISS ME: Can’t really see Kobe Bryant and LeBron James puckering up before this extravagant exhibition game the way Magic and Isiah used to. The best of the West and East will likely take a back seat to the game being played in the Dallas Cowboys’ home stadium with the mega-tron video screen hanging over them. “From a shooter’s standpoint, I would like to play in a smaller venue,” said TNT analyst Reggie Miller, “but … you’re playing in a place where there will potentially be 100,000 people watching you … sight lines really don’t matter. Personally for me, I can’t wait to watch it on ‘Jerry-Vision.’ That’s awesome.”

Auto racing: Daytona 500, Channel 11, 9 a.m.
REV MY ENGINE: Despite a rain-shortened race in 2009, the event still drew 16 million TV viewers, more than the NCAA Final Four (13.5 million), 2008 Summer Olympics, (15.2 million), 2009 NBA Finals (14.3 million), Kentucky Derby (11.8 million), final round of The Masters (14.3 million), and the final round of the U.S. Open (7.1 million).

Drag racing: Winternationals at Pomona, ESPN2, 5 to 8 p.m. (delayed)
DRAG QUEEN: The National Hot Rod Association starts its 24-event season at the 50th Winternationals at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona, and the plan is to pay tribute to its past with as many of the legendary cars, drivers, and magical moments they can get into the facility. It was February, 1961 when NHRA founder Wally Parks hosted the first running of the now-historic and iconic Winternationals. Qualifying starts Saturday from 8 to 11 p.m.

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Winter Olympics, 1 to 6 p.m. and 7 to 11 p.m., Channel 4:
I HEART CURLING: Speedskating, luge, biathlon, the Nordic combined … it’s all out there on Day 3, plus the first look at the U.S. women’s hockey team (noon, USA Network, vs. China) and Lindsay Vonn propelling herself down the ski slopes in prime time. But those really in the know can’t wait for cartoon curling. Fox has counterprogrammed an episode of “The Simpsons” (Channel 11, 8 p.m.) where Marge (a world-class sweeper) and Homer (with that bowling technique down) represent the U.S. curling team. Says Simpson’s writer Rob LaZebnik: “We liked the idea of a sport that you could do with your spouse, and all the issues that presents. Plus, we’re hoping we get free Olympic stuff.” To get Marge and Homer on the same team, the writers had to declare “mixed curling” a demonstration sport. Just like there could be mixed hockey.

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