Olympic notes - Tuesday, Feb. 9

Pairs have first practice at Pacific Coliseum

Caydee Denney and Jeremy Barrett skate at their practice session on Tuesday.
Caydee Denney and Jeremy Barrett skate at their practice session on Tuesday. (Getty Images)


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By Mickey Brown, special to
(02/10/2010) - Amanda Evora and Mark Ladwig are at their first Olympics Games, but you'd never know it from how they're carrying on. When they arrived in the mixed zone after their first practice Tuesday afternoon, Mark noticed a stack of TVs in boxes in the back corner, and he exclaimed that every volunteer in the building was being sent home with a television. Amanda, apropos of nothing, revealed that the VANOC volunteers, who are all wearing blue jackets, are being referred to as "Avatar people."

You couldn't hold it against Brits Stacey Kemp and David King if they felt a little intimidated during their practice session. They were joined on the ice by Xue Shen and Hongbo Zhao, Qing Pang and Jian Tong, and Dan Zhang and Hao Zhang.

Pairs Pre-Event Press Conference, Main Press Center

Mark revealed that his almost 5-month-old son, Holden, was not named for Catcher in the Rye's iconic main character, Holden Caulfield. He and his wife, Janet, narrowed the final list down to about five names and liked "Holden" best, so that's what they went with.

After a seemingly innocuous question, Amanda almost broke down in tears thinking of how far she and Mark have come. That led to her telling the room that a woman at her church told her that if she ever felt like she was going to cry, to press her tongue to the roof of her mouth, and that will hold off the tears. She managed to keep them back, but just barely.

When asked to name something they've done that's unique to the Olympic experience, Mark mentioned sitting next to Hungarian speed skaters while they sharpened their skates and striking up a conversation with them, while Caydee talked about getting to pick out all the clothes at team processing.

Both teams gushed about the support they've received from the club members and townspeople back in Ellenton. They routinely had 700-1,000 people show up at practices in between the U.S. Championships and when they came here.

The red streaks in Caydee Denney's hair are not real; they're extensions she puts in for their "Firebird" program. (Am I only surprised by this because I'm a guy? Was this obvious to women?)

There is far more media interest in the U.S. silver medalists than the champs. In the "break-out sessions" following the press conference, two or three reporters gathered around Caydee and Jeremy Barrett; there were five times that many encircling Mark and Amanda. I gather it's because Mark and Amanda have been around longer, and writers are more familiar with them.