Next up: a first
As Bob Costas' infected eyes continue to get more publicity than most of the athletes competing in Games, NBC's preferred prime-time host was out for a fourth straight night Friday, but not with Matt Lauer in his place. Wanting to give Lauer a break — he was hosting the prime time and the late shows in addition to his Today duties — NBC brought in former Today co-host Meredith Vieira (right). As hard as it is to believe — or maybe not — Vieira became the first solo female host of a prime-time Olympics telecast. She co-hosted the opening ceremony with Lauer and had stayed in Sochi to do features for NBC. Picking someone else — such as Dan Patrick or Al Michaels — would have disrupted another part of NBC's schedule, said Jim Bell, executive producer of NBC's Olympics competition. Vieira said she was willing to do the job for as long as NBC wanted her, "but I'm hoping that Bob is back tomorrow. There isn't enough vodka."
Readers ask us
Is NBC's prime-time show live from Sochi, or do they prerecord it?
The show is prerecorded. With Sochi nine hours ahead of the Eastern United States, here's a glimpse of what Matt Lauer's schedule was like subbing for Bob Costas, from the New York Times: "He does early morning location shooting for Today and heads to the morning show's set for the live program from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Sochi time. Then he eats, sleeps a few hours and gets to the prime-time studio around 11 p.m. He is there for another three or four hours."
Vlad hearts US
Russian President Vladimir Putin is turning in to quite the mingling host at his $50 billion party. He dropped in on U.S. Olympic headquarters Friday to chat about the Games and today's Russia-U.S. hockey showdown. He even wore a red "Happy Valentine's Day from Team USA" pin on his lapel. Putin spent about a half-hour sitting on a couch talking with U.S. Olympic Committee chairman Larry Probst and CEO Scott Blackmun. From there, he made a stop at Canada House next door. "Putin was very gracious," Blackmun said. "He was genuinely interested in whether we were having a quality experience at the Games. … We complimented him on the great operations so far."
Numbers of the day
1 Nation to win a medal on every day of these Games: the United States.
2 Total medals for Great Britain at the Games after Lizzy Yarnold's gold in women's skeleton, matching Britain's greatest Winter Olympic tally since 1936.
3 Medals Belarus won Friday (two in biathlon, one in freestyle skiing aerials); the country previously had never won more than three medals at a single Winter Olympics.
Compiled from Times staff, wires, nbcolympics.com, olympstats.com, Infostrada sports.