Rings and rinks: Ladies practice, Weir and Lysacek

Behind the scenes at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver

Miki Ando is not jazzed about skating last in the ladies short program.
Miki Ando is not jazzed about skating last in the ladies short program. (Getty Images)


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By Linda Przygodski and Lynn Rutherford
(02/21/2010) -'s team on the ground in Vancouver, Linda Przygodski and Lynn Rutherford, pen all the tidbits from the 2010 Winter Olympic Games.

Johnny Weir is doing an interview for a feature for Vanity Fair while in Vancouver.

Despite his sixth-place finish, Weir has been quite the media darling here at the 2010 Olympic Games.

To the winner goes the spoils
Evan Lysacek is headed back to Los Angeles, Calif., with a shiny Olympic gold medal and a new watch from Omega. The Olympic men's champion plans on returning to Vancouver for the Closing Ceremonies.

Lysacek will be making an appearance on CNN's Larry King Live this week.

Skater's thoughts are with Rochette
The tragic news of the sudden passing of Therese Rochette, Joannie's 55-year-old mother, cast a pall over the morning practice of the ice dancers and ladies at the Pacific Coliseum.

"I can't imagine," a stunned Charlie White said. "We're really good friends with Joannie. This is terrible."

Meryl Davis, moved to tears, couldn't even comment.

For Mirai Nagasu, it brought thoughts of her own mother, Ikoku, who has been diagnosed with thyroid cancer.

Fortunately, the prognosis is good. Ikoku, who is being treated at St. Vincent Hospital in Los Angeles, has had chemotherapy sessions and plans to begin radiation treatment when she returns home after the Olympics.

"She has an 80 percent chance of recovery but that 20 percent is really hard," Nagasu said.

"She's been really strong for me . . . I want to skate well here, for my mom as well [as for myself]."

The skater said Ikoku had two surgeries in the fall, both around the times of her two Grand Prix events, Cup of China and Skate Canada. Those days, Mirai said, were the hardest for her.

"It was tough, but right after [leaving the medical center] after one of the surgeries, she made us drive her to the rink," the skater said.

"I'm so happy my sponsors helped my mom be able to come here. It's really helped me . . . it's given us some fun time together. At home, she's always driving me around, and we don't have a lot of down time."

U.S. ladies sharp in practice
Americans Rachael Flatt and Nagusu looked strong in practice at the Pacific Coliseum this morning.

Both skaters did complete run-throughs of their free skates, hitting most of their jumps and jump combinations.

"Mirai has nothing to lose here," Frank Carroll, Nagasu's coach, said. "She's laying the groundwork for four years from now. She has Olympic champion potential."

Then he added, "She has per-son-al-ity" drawing out every syllable for extra emphasis.

New OD costumes
After all the fuss, Oksana Domnina and Maxim Shabalin turned up in practice this morning sporting Aboriginal original dance costumes looking pretty much the same as they did at the European Championships last month.

Shabalin's body stocking was a shade or two lighter and some of the white markings on the fabric seemed to be removed. Neither skater wore face paint or obvious stage make-up.

The Russian world champions have been coy about their costumes all week, wearing plain black to their practice sessions and smiling mysteriously when asked about their costumes, which proved controversial with some in the Aboriginal community.

Today, all Shabalin would say was, "We will talk after the [OD] competition."

Meanwhile, Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto, who train with the Russians in Aston, Pa., showed up in Vancouver sporting entirely new looks for their Moldavian folk OD, including lots of gold coins, a white jacket for Ben and some (fake!) fur trim.

"The coins aren't as heavy as they look," Belbin said. "And after we got here, we made the panels [on the dress] narrower, so they were lighter.

"We think these put us more into character, they fit better with the dance. We loved the old costumes, but they could have suited a Russian or Ukrainian dance as well. The gold coins and the simulated fur put these more into the Moldavian [realm]."

Doesn't owning multiple sets of costumes, which Belbin and Agosto also have for their free dance, get expensive?

"Brutally," Agosto said. "Unfortunately, that's part of the sport. You want your best competition look and sometimes it takes a few versions. Especially for the Olympics, you want fresh ideas."

"It's an investment in your career," Belbin added. "You do well at a competition, you make a little prize money, and you put it back into your skating."

Skating last no joy for Ando
At the draw for the ladies' short program this morning, Japan's Miki Ando pulled the number 30 -- last -- and covered her face with her hands.

"Usually, I like skating last, but this is the Olympics," Ando said. "I am a little bit afraid I will get nervous."

Ando, who won the world title in 2007, doesn't plan to watch rivals and fellow world champions Mao Asada (2008) and Yu-Na Kim (2009) perform their shorts.

"No, I will only be thinking about myself," she said. "I will just be talking with my coach [Nikolai Morozov]."

Tweets of the day
About to take off for LA. I can't believe I'm heading home with the Gold! It's a dream come true!!!

Had an amazing evening with Australian TV, BBC World Radio and NBC. It was also a beautiful morning with MAC. Tomorrow Vanity Fair!

The outcome of my performances jaded my outlook, but it just struck me that I am an Olympian & this has been more than I could ever ask for!

So glad the comp's underway! Could almost shed a tear over the possibility of that being the last CD we ever skate...of joy, that is :)

Just met Sergei Federov in the cafeteria! Thanked him for his years with the wings... So cool...

Brent Bommentre has fourth-row seats for the Russia-Czech Republic hockey game. He and Kim will be at the dance tonight and tomorrow night.