Well for one - the media's total trashing of the games up to the opening ceremony I don't think has helped things much. But your point to the figure skating thing holds merit.
I think in the US - the coverage has gotten AMAZINGLY US-centric to a fault. While i don't have the metrics or the youtube clips to prove it, I always remembered EXTENSIVE promo pieces on foreign athletes. I remember the Victor Patrenko beefcake segments of him around the Russian ladies and coming out of the water on the beach. I remember the little cybernetic effects they put together when they were promoting Midori Ito in '92. My point isn't so much that focus shouldn't be on US athletes as much as diverting lots of coverage to their main foreign rivals just made it feel like a *really* big deal when they beat them. I remember my friend's mother watching the '92 figure skating long program and audibly talking about how she couldn't believe Yamaguchi beat Ito (it wasn't that unebelieveable, but the buildup made it feel that way). I remember the pullouts on Oksana Baiul in Sporting News and Sports Illustrated with the brakes slamming piece on her beating Nancy and Tonya LEADING UP to those Olympics. I remember the whole preview of how awesome the young Swedes were in '94 from their hockey team. Johan Olav Koss was Sportsman of the year that year... Now it just seems like it's 'pick a pretty face' and push the heck out of it without any kind of context. Everything just seems like it should be a courination rather than a competition and to be honest, so when someone wins, it's just kind of 'meh, that's what we expected.' What's become more problematic though - is that even when these kids lose - it's still all about them with no context. Bodie Miller wins that bronze medal last week... the reporter blows through the US KID who beat him (who had for sale signs on his helmet leading into the games to get a sponsor - pretty incredible story brushed off) and doesn't even SPEAK to the Norwegean who won and goes right into her 'let's make Bodie cry into the arms of his girlfriend' bit. Even with the Ice dancing contest.... it'd have been cool to see how Virtue and Moier handled being champions. How did their life change? How much more intense had their rivalry with Davis and White become? Were they losing a step? Who could be the new kids on the block? Just nothing there. Granted, there was some more well rounded coverage there compared to others, but still... It's just weird- there's more coverage of the olympics than ever before but heading in, I always feel like I know less and less each year. I used to know AT LEAST who the top 5-6 figure skaters in every event would be and what to look for. Now i'm lucky if I know two and it's almost always the Americans. I'm not a pro-xenophobia guy or anything, but in any kind of narrative or story you've gotta have good guys and bad guys and I don't feel like they do enough of a job of shaping American figures through their competition which I think takes away from the interest. If it's already decided, why watch?