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Olympic Viewing: Speed skating, relief in the morning for NBC

Gold medallist Jorrit Bergsma of the Netherlands competes in the men's 10,000-meter speedskating race at the Adler Arena Skating Center during the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin)

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Gold medallist Jorrit Bergsma of the Netherlands competes in the men's 10,000-meter speedskating race at the Adler Arena Skating Center during the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin)

Highlights from television coverage of the Sochi Olympics:

RATINGS: An American gold medal-winning team in ice dancing proved to be a strong draw for NBC. The network averaged 23.5 million viewers for its President's Day prime-time programming, larger than the audiences for each of the last two Winter Olympics on the corresponding night. By more than five million viewers, NBC's Olympics coverage outdrew programming on ABC, CBS and Fox combined.

LONG DISTANCE SKATE: Speed skating gold medallist Dan Jansen — from back when non-Dutch skaters occasionally won medals — did some solid work with NBC's coverage of long-distance races on Tuesday. He explained how ice in arenas near sea level is harder to skate on, and how that works to the disadvantage of U.S. skaters. NBC also told the rich story behind the men's 10,000 metre race, with Dutch skater Sven Kramer's attempt to win the gold medal denied him by a coach's mistake four years ago. Kramer started out quickly, but Jansen quickly and correctly observed that he didn't have the strength to beat countryman Jorrit Bergsma.

MORNING SIGH: That was a sigh of relief from the "Today" show studios, where executives learned Tuesday that the morning show beat ABC's "Good Morning America" in the ratings last week. It was the show's first weekly victory since the London Olympics in 2012, but would have been a major blow if it hadn't taken advantage of being in Sochi.

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David Bauder can be reached at dbauder@ap.org or on Twitter@dbauder. His work can be found at http://bigstory.ap.org/content/david-bauder.

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