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The Torch Arrives

By RD Heldenfels Published: February 10, 2006

Costas is reciting torch stats. Carriers: Alberto Tomba, the 1994 Italian cross-country skiing relay team, Piero Gros from the '70s ... and I keep waiting for NBC to ask Bode Miller what he thinks of all this.

Deborah Compagnoni.

And finally Stefania Belmondo. ''The most decorated Italian Winter Olympian ever,'' Costas says. I am sure there are Italians and Italian-Americans who view this the same way I felt when Muhammad Ali carried the torch. (When I googled Belmondo, the first thing that came up was ''il sito ufficiale.'') And I felt that way again on Friday-- when I thought of Ali carrying the torch.

Costas promises a final surprise -- after the break. It's Pavarotti, looking overly made up. But as far as I can tell in my uncultured way, he's putting all the drama into the song, and the song is made for drama.

Fireworks follow. Big ones. I'd like some sports now, please. Costas instead promotes ''a final word.'' Which, after commercials, includes a sequence of scenes from the ceremonies, with music by Bocelli. It's not bad, especially when you see how much less time it took than the telecast as a whole.

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