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Rings and rinks: Platinum, Scali and coach Weir

Behind the scenes at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver

Federica Faiella and Massimo Scali in the kiss and cry after the free dance in Vancouver.
Federica Faiella and Massimo Scali in the kiss and cry after the free dance in Vancouver. (Getty Images)

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By Linda Przygodski, Amy Rosewater and Lynn Rutherford
(02/23/2010) - Icenetwork.com's team on the ground in Vancouver, Linda Przygodski, Amy Rosewater and Lynn Rutherford, pen all the tidbits from the 2010 Winter Olympic Games.

Kwan-tastic
Michelle Kwan sitting about six-feet from the icenetwork.com area rinkside at the Pacific Coliseum in Vancouver enjoying the ladies short program.

She was on her feet at the end of Mirai Nagasu's skate.

Coach Johnny
Johnny Weir came to Vancouver with three suitcases. He'll be going home with five.

Among the extra stuff he'll be packing for the return trip from these Olympic Games? Team Russia garb.

The two-time U.S. Olympian was in the Pacific Coliseum tonight as a credentialed member of the Russian Federation. He was watching his friend, Russian champion Ksenia Makarova, along with her primary coaches, Galina Zmievskaya and Viktor Petrenko, from the boards. He couldn't stand in the official coaches area but had prime real estate about 10 feet away.

"It's so much harder watching than competing,'' said Weir, who placed sixth in the men's competition. "I was so nervous.''

Makarova, who has been training alongside of Weir with Zmievskaya and Petrenko in New Jersey since last summer, gave Weir a reason to breathe a little easier. She nailed her triple toe-triple combination and her triple flip and scored a season-best 59.22 points. (Her previous best was 55.38).

"She is like my sister,'' Weir said. "I'm so proud of what she was able to do.''

Makarova said Weir gave her more confidence and calmed her nerves. After all, this is her first trip to the Olympics. "It was amazing having him there,'' Makarova said.

So is coach Johnny his new tagline?

"No,'' Weir said. "It's too hard for me. My blood pressure would go way up.''

No regrets for Delobel, Schoenfelder
Last night's free dance marked the final time 2008 world ice dance champions Isabelle Delobel and Olivier Schoenfelder will compete.

The six-time French champions, who have skated together since 1990, have announced they will not continue to the 2010 World Figure Skating Championships in Torino.

It wasn't the send-off they wanted; the couple placed sixth after returning to competition after a 14-month break due to Delobel's shoulder surgery and pregnancy. She and husband Ludovic Roux welcomed son Loïc on October 1st, and she was back on the ice by the end of the month.

"The marks were better this time," Schoenfelder, 32, said after their free dance to Impossible Dream.

"We're very happy we skated well, no mistakes. We're glad we came to this competition. We didn't get a medal, but we skated at quite a high level; at least, we skated well.

"We knew it would be crazy, as competitors, to try to get ready that quickly. We came here to win but there was not enough time to prepare. Still, we have no regrets. With the amount of time we had, we tried all we could expect."

Schoenfelder -- who also has a son, three-year-old son Gabriel -- has made post-retirement plans.

"We're going to do a lot of shows," he said. "We'll have fun doing exhibitions. We will keep training.

"I'd like to coach some French teams; I would really like to train some high-level dance couples."

Platinum medals
Someone needs to tell Evgeni Plushenko and his camp that the men's event is over, and he's won a second silver medal.

As umpteen media outlets have reported, Plushenko's Web site sports the bizarre claim that the skater won a silver medal in 2002, gold in 2006 and platinum in 2010.

Meanwhile, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin took time out from international diplomacy duties to pen a missive to Plushenko, who's upset that his quad toe-triple toe combination failed to defeat Lysacek's arsenal of a triple-triple; four Level 4 elements; and five jumps in the second half of the program.

"I would like to sincerely congratulate you with the wonderful Olympic performance, your silver is worth gold," Putin wrote.

"You were able to overcome all the obstacles in your brave comeback and performed the most accomplished program on the Vancouver ice."

Putin is right on one count: Plushenko's comeback to competition, after a three-year, has been remarkable. It's too bad he doesn't seem to be enjoying it.

Plushenko's vigilant agent, Ari Zakarian, quickly clarified that the skater himself had nothing to do with the photo of the "platinum" medal on the Web site.

"It's absolutely a mistake. Evgeni has absolutely no idea about this," Zakarian told the Associated Press. "Nobody from our team is awarding a platinum medal."

More mixed zone follies
Things get chaotic in the mixed zone, especially at the Olympics, and sometimes it doesn't pay to be Mr. Nice Guy.

Italian Massimo Scali, who placed fifth here with partner Federica Faeilla, is one of the sport's most generous souls with journalists. He'll stand there for half an hour or more, in his skates, conversing in animated Italian and English with anyone who lobs a question.

Hopefully he still feels the same after last night.

After earning a season best 100.06 for a free dance to Nino Rota's "The Emigrants," Scali was asked, repeatedly, whether he thought the understandably enthusiastic Canadian crowd might have influenced the judging.

"No, no, I don't think so," he said at first.

But a reporter persisted, finally prompting Scali -- already in the mixed zone far longer than was wise -- to respond that a home country crowd can help the skaters, but he would "hope it does not affect the judges."

Scali went on to say Italians were "just as crazy, believe me" in Turin in 2006, and that the judges had a lot of experience officiating in different countries; somewhat unflattering, he added, "Some of them were around in the 1970s!"

About Virtue and Moir, here's some of what Scali told us: "They are really precise, they execute elements really well, that is something that is very important . . . They fit the new judging system perfectly. We are older; we come from the old system.

"I would like to say they shouldn't get [such high] marks but they are really good skaters and they fit the new system."

Tweets of the day
@jeremyabbottpcf
Not feeling well... In bed all day resting to restart training tomorrow :-/

@EvanLysacek
Check me out on Larry King Live tonight! XXE

@Evan_Bates
It's my 21st birthday and I'm at the 21st Winter Olympics. Sounds like the perfect time to utilize the free McDonalds in the cafeteria.

@JohnnyGWeir
In the bubble bath listening to @LadyGaga. "Show me your teeth!"

@mirai_nagasu
I'm pin-collecting...mostly the Olympic mascots...Bud is the guy to go to for pins :D