A LOT of snow has passed under the ski lifts since CBS televised a Winter Olympics in 1960. Newsman Walter Cronkite anchored the network's 15 hours of coverage of the Games in Squaw Valley, Calif., 32 years ago. Now Neal Pilson, president of CBS Sports, talks about establishing a "new tradition" of Olympic coverage, beginning in Al-bertville, France, and running at least through the 1994 Winter Games in Lillehammer, Norway.
ABC deserves prime responsibility for turning the Olympics into a TV spectacular in recent decades. It's clear, however, that CBS intends to leave its own imprint. There are plans for 116 hours of network coverage, the most ever of the Winter Games.
Some might say the $243 million CBS paid to get the Games is a major gamble, since only about one-third of the coverage will be live, and much of that on weekday mornings. France is six hours ahead of the Eastern US time zone, meaning that results will often be known before Americans sit down to watch prime-time anthologies of the day's developments. Also, the rights to some events have been bought by cable station TNT, which will offer 45 hours of coverage.
CBS does not anticipate a major problem with delayed broadcasts. Says Mark Harrington, vice president of the network's Olympic coverage, "simply knowing who won does not replace the drama and excitement of actually watching an Olympics." CBS SPORTS HIGHLIGHTS
(All times given are Eastern Standard Time; times may vary by region - please check local listings.)
Sat., Feb. 8
8-11 p.m. EST
Sun., Feb. 9
Men's downhill skiing: The names aren't as important as the format: a single, all-or-nothing run down the mountain, where even the best skiers strain to maintain control at high speed.
Mon., Feb. 10
7-9 a.m., EST, live, and 8-11 p.m.
Luge (men's): Final runs.
Speed skating (women's 500-meter): American Bonnie Blair, the world record holder, may be the first woman to win the sprint in successive Olympics.
Wed., Feb. 12
Luge (women's): Final runs.Thu., Feb. 13
Freestyle skiing (moguls): A new medal sport, in which stylish mastery of a bumpy run is the objective, could bring American Donna Weinbrecht Olympic fame.
Sat., Feb. 15
Speed skating (men's 500-meter): Dan Jansen, the Heartbreak Kid of the '88 Games, could write a happy ending to a story filled with tragedy four years ago.
Figure skating (men's finale): Canadian Kurt Browning, a three-time world champion, may land a series of triple jumps.
Skiing (women's downhill)
SUN., FEB. 16
Ski jumping (large hill)
Mon., Feb. 17
Figure skating (ice dancing finale): France's brother-sister team of Isabelle and Paul Duchesnay may produce the artistic highlight of the Games.Tue., Feb. 18
7-9 a.m. live, and 8-11 p.m.
Speed skiing: Drag racing comes to the Olympics, with speeds that regularly exceed 100 m.p.h.
Fri., Feb. 21
Figure skating (women's finale): Three Americans - Kristi Yamaguchi, Tonya Harding, and Nancy Kerrigan - will try to repeat their sweep of last year's world honors. Japan's Midori Ito could break up the party.
Sat., Feb. 22
1-6 p.m., live
Hockey (bronze medal game): Canada and the United States would be pleased to reach this juncture.
Bobsled (four-man): Final runs.
Sun., Feb. 23
Hockey (gold medal game)