The 2014 Winter Olympics are currently in full swing, but they’ve been without NBC Sports correspondent Bob Costas for the past several days, after the man came down with a wicked infection, keeping him out of the evening coverage solo hosting gig. He’s had some fill-in’s over the last few days, and on Friday NBC announced that Meredith Vieira will be dishing out tonight’s Valentine’s Day coverage. If another fill-in doesn’t seem particularly exciting, we’re here to tell you that Vieira’s stint tonight is actually a big moment in NBC’s Olympics coverage history, marking the first time a woman has ever been the solo host during primetime.
It’s not like the network is throwing Vieira into the gig without some prior experience. The journalist has been in Sochi all week, initially co-hosting the Olympic’s opening ceremony and later contributing special correspondent coverage for some of the big events. It honestly seems a little weird to me that Vieira is the first female to ever host the Olympics on her own during primetime, but the woman certainly has the pedigree for the job, working on Today for a slew of years. She also worked on CBS News for a lengthy tenure and finessed her hosting skills on Who Wants to be a Millionaire.
Tonight’s coverage will put Vieira in the spotlight just as the NBC correspondant has a brand new daytime program in the works. The Meredith Vieira Show is set to launch in the fall of 2014, and with her pedigree and background, the longtime journalist is hoping to be able to find a niche among the other daytime offerings. It makes sense that NBC would want to promote the woman before her daytime show hits the air. Not what I would want to be doing on Valentine’s Day, but I guess that’s why Vieira makes the big bucks.
Matt Lauer’s been filling in for Costas over the last few days, after Costas took medical leave due to a nasty eye infection that was visible while he tried to host early on during the Olympics. I’m not sure whether Lauer has lacked in popularity or whether he’s just taking a night off, but Vieira has nabbed the coveted coverage chair tonight. Costas initially hoped to only take a day off, but according to TV Line, he more recently has professed a hope to return next week to cover the second half of the Olympic Games.
Tonight’s games boast more figure skating, with the men’s individual medals being awarded. Canada’s Phillip Chan is the favorite; unfortunately, the big U.S. contender Jeremy Abbott fell again last night, crashing into the boards and looking seriously injured before getting up and completing his routine. Tonight also boasts more skiing, including men’s super combined alpine skiing, women’s aeriels and women’s skeleton.
You can check out Olympics coverage over at NBC during primetime. Additional coverage is available over at NBC’s site.