It was an Olympic year. And a year in which the NHL willingly shut down its business for the third time since 1994. A year of unforgettable images on TV. And tragedies brought to the nation via television and digital. Here’s our list of the memorable media moments of 2012.
Agony of defeat
All credit to Rosie MacLennan’s Olympic gold medal in trampoline (the only gold for Canada in London), but the most compelling moments for Canada at the Summer Games all came in heartbreaking finishes. It’s safe to say that while you admire athletes in triumph, you fall in love with them in defeat. That was the case in Canada’s epic match with the United States in women’s soccer. Christine Sinclair (who sewed up Canadian athlete of the year by dissing the ref after the game) scored a hat trick, each time shoving Canada ahead of the heavily favoured Yanks. And each time the United States responded. The game hinged on a controversial foul call from the Norwegian referee, Christina Pederson, leaving Canadians seething. Play-by-play voice Luke Wileman became a star, equal to a heartbreaking moment that captured the nation. Canadians cared about the game by the end, not because it was women’s soccer, but because it was soccer. Period.
Agony of the feet
The final full day of the Games provided another heartbreaker as Canada’s 4x100-metre men’s relay team won a surprising bronze medal – only to have the medal taken away because Jared Connaughton went out of his lane. The broadcast consortium crew of Gord Miller, David Moorcroft and Michael Smith, operating in real time, deftly captured the 180-degree switch in emotion and ruefully conceded the mistake. Farhan Lalji capably elicited Connaughton’s admission of culpability. Some wanted to have Connaughton carry the flag at the closing ceremonies as a consolation. Uh, no.
Finally, tennis phenom Milos Raonic’s captured the country with his Olympic tennis match in which he lost the final set to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga by a staggering 25-23. The emerging Raonic repeatedly refused to buckle under Tsonga’s pressure till the very end.
Best story was that Jim Van Horne called the match for the broadcast consortium off a monitor back in Toronto.
The video sensation of the Games, however, must have been the parents of American gymnast Aly Raisman, who did a gymnastic performance of their own in the stands that became a social-media phenomenon.
Smiling as they choke
The United States went into the final day of the 2012 Ryder Cup leading a reeling Europe team by four points. But over the 10 hours of Sunday play at Medinah in Chicago, NBC was forced to put a good face on an epic choke by the home side. German Martin Kaymer needed a tense four-footer to seal the Cup on the 18th hole. He did, and it was left for Tiger Woods, the forlorn hope of the United States, to miss his putt on 18, guaranteeing the Euros an outright win 14 1/2 to 13 1/2.
The NBC folks were brave, but analyst Johnny Miller couldn’t help but put in the knife, “This will become the colossal collapse in Chicago...” he hissed as the air went out of the Americans. The Euro coverage? Ecstatic.
Two potential Olympic medal hopes in the 2014 Winter Games were the tragic story of 2012 for Canadians. Sarah Burke, considered a favourite for gold in the halfpipe, died in January after an innocent-looking fall in Park City, Utah, during a training run. Her video epitaphs had Canada in tears for days. Nik Zoricic died after a crash during the final of a World Cup ski-cross event in Grindelwald, Switzerland, a crash caught on TV. The video formed the basis of a legal action by Zoricic’s family.
Caught on tape
More than the Los Angeles Kings’ Stanley Cup win, the banal boardroom images from the lockout are the most prominent NHL image of 2012.
Perhaps the NHL needs a moment such as the botched touchdown call in the Green Bay-Seattle NFL game. So egregious was the call by replacement refs that the NFL ended its lockout of its regular officials within days. It also changed up to $250-million in bets.
Ranting and trading
The TV moment with the greatest repercussions might have been the rant by Sportsnet’s Gregg Zaun over the entitlement culture with the young Toronto Blue Jays. Zaun threw in some zingers about GM Alex Anthopoulos as a bean counter etc. Whether true or not, it focused local discontent with a Blue Jays management that had promised great things from its youth movement.
Next thing, Anthopoulos was dealing like Daniel Negreanu, tossing out youth and importing veterans in bulk. The Blue Jays are now favourites for the 2013 World Series.
And while the Jays may say there’s no connection, they can thank Zaun for precipitating the sea change in their dressing room.
The end game
Finally, a moment’s silence for The Score. Canada’s plucky third sports network finally succumbed to financial reality, selling out to Rogers.
The Score never lacked for ideas. It simply ran out of talent.