Twin Cities eyes glued to the games in Sochi

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Minnesota is lapping the rest of the country in 2014 Winter Olympics viewership.

The Star Tribune reports 41 percent of Twin Cities televisions were tuned to Saturday night's Olympic coverage on NBC, much higher than the national average of 25 percent, according to recent ratings. Viewership in Portland and Salt Lake City were a close second and third.

USA TODAY says Sunday's prime-time ratings put Minneapolis in the top two, right behind Salt Lake City.

Our huge interest in the Winter Games – other than our love for snow sports – may be because of the 19 athletes from Minnesota competing in Sochi, Russia this year. The Star Tribune says if you count those with connections to Minnesota one way or another, there are a total of 27 athletes Minnesotans are likely rooting for.

Another theory behind the big ratings could be the frigid weather that's keeping people indoors, thus encouraging television watching.

KARE 11 News Director Jane Helmke says it's Minnesota's natural draw to winter that keeps our eyes glued to the games.

"As much as we like to complain, we love winter," Helmke told the Star Tribune. "No one celebrates the season more than the Olympics."

The Olympics appeal grew among Minnesotans during the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver, when media coverage was focused on St. Paul native Lindsey Vonn. The Minnesota skier suffered a shin injury a week before the games and ended up taking home the gold in the women's downhill.

Vonn was forced to drop out of the Sochi Olympics because of a pair of setbacks to her surgically repaired knee, which hasn't yet deterred Minnesotans from tuning in.

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