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Ron Judd's Olympics Insider

Ron Judd, an Olympics junkie and Seattle Times columnist who has covered Olympic sports since 1997, will use this space to serve up news and opinion on the Summer and Winter Games -- also inviting you to chime in on Planet Earth's biggest get-together.

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August 18, 2008 3:34 PM

CBC once again captures the moment

Posted by Ron Judd

Yelena.JPGRussia's Yelena Isinbaeva clears the bar to break the world record as she wins gold in the women's pole vault final at the Beijing Games. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)


You can't overestimate how wonderful it is to see a television network get it.

The big story in Beijing last night, by far, was Russian pole-vault star Yelena Isinbaeva's gold-medal performance in the Bird's Nest. It wasn't surprising -- she's head and shoulders above the field, and was an overwhelming gold-medal favorite.

But it was a signature moment in the Olympics simply because of her star power and the dramatic nature of the pole vault. And Isinbaeva is a made-for-TV star.

The pole vault was the last event on the docket last night, and Isinbaeva already had secured the gold medal. The only question: Would she break, yet again, her own world record?

There was no question she'd try. Her career ambition, after all, is to best countryman Sergey Bubka's record of 35 broken world records.

She had the stage literally to herself as almost all of the crowd of 90,000 lingered to watch. Twice, she hefted her pole and went through her odd pre-jump routine -- talking rapidly to herself, to her pole, the bar, whatever -- and made runs at 5.05 meters(16 feet 6 3/4). Twice, she brushed it with her thighs, to the collective groan of the crowd.

On her third attempt, with the clock ticking down, Isinbaeva launched down the runway, set a perfect pole plant, and cleared the bar by what appeared to be several inches. The moment she cleared -- still at least 8 feet off the ground -- her face lit into an ear-to-ear grin. She screamed on her way down. After landing, she did a backflip as the crowd cut loose with a roar not year heard at these Games.

It was a great moment, made greater by CBC's minimalist approach. The network launched its afternoon West Coast show with tape of the event, making it clear it had happened last night, and they were showing it first because it was the daily highlight. They showed all her attempts, rather than just a slow-mo of the successful one, and let the drama build by itself.

Classy, simple and refreshing. No teasing of the event to keep you onboard through three hours of beach volleyball. Just the event.

It's another example of CBC making use of the best of modern technology, but not force-feeding us the fluffery and puffery and gimmickry that goes along with it on NBC.

So nice.

Afterward, she was asked about American pole vaulter Jenn Stuczynski's prediction that the Athens champion would be dethroned.

"You saw tonight what happens," Isinbaeva said in halting English. "People who talk too much, they never do anything."

Stuczynski's best jump, for the silver, was 4.80 meters.

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www.olympic.org: The official International Olympic Committtee site, with news releases, a searchable Olympic medals database and other archival information.
www.nbcolympics.com: Olympic news site from one of the Games' primary sponsors.
NBC Olympics columnist Alan Abrahamson's column/blog
Chicago Tribune Olympic sports writer Philip Hersh's blog
www.usolympicteam.com: U.S. Olympic Committee's athlete web site.
www.aroundtherings.com: Ed and Sheila Hula's Olympic News Service (subscription).
www.wcsn.com: News service with audio, video and text coverage of Olympic sports, during and between Olympics. Free, but charges for live video feed subscriptions.
www.beijing2008.com: Beijing Organizing Committee Web site.
www.vancouver2010.com: Vancouver Organizing Committee's 2010 Winter Games site.
www.london2012.com: London 2012 Summer Games site.
www.sochi2014.com: Sochi, Russia's 2014 Winter Games site.
www.chicago2016.org: Candidate city Chicago's summer 2016 bid committee site.
Olympic swimmer Tara Kirk's highly entertaining WCSN blog
Bellevue Olympian Scott Macartney's WCSN alpine ski-racing blog
Other WCSN Olympic athlete blogs.