Rings and rinks: Behind the scenes in Vancouver

Mirai sushi roll, iPods and the opening ceremonies

Rachael Flatt and Mirai Nagasu at the U.S. ladies press conference on Saturday.
Rachael Flatt and Mirai Nagasu at the U.S. ladies press conference on Saturday. (Mickey Brown)


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By Linda Przygodski and Lynn Rutherford
(02/13/2010) -'s team on the ground in Vancouver, Linda Przygodski and Lynn Rutherford, pen all the tidbits from the 2010 Winter Olympic Games.

Team USA reacts to Opening Ceremonies
Emily Samuelson: "The Opening Ceremony was completely incredible! I am so proud to be an American and honored to be here in Vancouver representing our country!

Charlie White: "The Opening Ceremony was really fantastic. Such a great atmosphere to start the biggest competition of our lives!

Rachael Flatt: "Wow. When they raised the Olympic flag, I was able to grasp how incredible and amazing this opportunity is. Wow."

Meryl Davis: "The Opening Ceremonies were even more amazing than I had ever imagined. I definitely feel like part of team USA now and I know this is an experience I'll never forget."

Mark Ladwig: "I loved being squat in the middle of my new family, the athletes of the world are my brothers and sisters. I was numb with the thrill of sharing a moment that will forever be unique to us. I will admit I cried as the speeches started and confirmed that I have crossed the threshold of becoming an Olympian. I felt chills when we stood in silence for Georgian Nodar Kumaritashvili. All sports carry risk and I am thankful that I am alive to compete and I will honor his memory with my best efforts."

Abbott says Detroit good change for him
In a press conference Saturday, Jeremy Abbott says that while Detroit is a lot quieter than Colorado Springs -- the change in environment and coaches has really suited him.

On why Yuka Sato a good fit for him: "Her personality, her coaching style, the way she communicates -- they're fantastic. She's given me a lot of stability in my skating. I'm more grounded and comfortable in my skating than I have been in years.

"She's very even-keeled. She can keep me calm and focused [and doesn't allow me to] give into my emotions."

Still a fan
Flatt's coach, Tom Zakrajsek, is reliving his youth in Vancouver, doubling as a blogger for the Professional Skater's Association (PSA). He majored in English at University of Denver and received a job offer as a reporter, at $16,000 a year, from the Rocky Mountain News when he graduated in 1988, but he turned it down when U.S. West (now Quest) offered $27,000.

"You can find me on the PSA website, just click on my face, or at Tom's blog," he said.

Zakrajsek also trained Abbott for ten years, taking him to his Grand Prix Final and 2009 U.S. titles last season. Although Abbott left him last spring to train with Yuka Sato in Detroit, Zakrajsek is still routing for his former student.

"If you ask me who among the three U.S. men I'd like to see win, its Jeremy hands down," Zakrajsek said. "If I had to say anything about my feelings about Jeremy, they'd all be very positive. I'm very proud of the work I did to get him to this point, and whether or not Yuka has taken over doesn't really matter.

"I hope he skates his best in Vancouver, with an effortless quad and fast spins, just the way he did at nationals. Actually, it was kind of nice to just sit back and watch him."

Weir on Plushenko
"He [Plushenko] brings a lot of theatrics and firepower to the ice. He brings a lot to the table.

"I've seen his long program [at the Cup of Russia] and it seems very much like what he has done before. [Plushenko's] program is very front loaded or the 6.0 system."

What's on Weir's iPod?: Lady Gaga of course, Russian folk music and Edith Piaf's "I Don't Regret Anything."

Mirai charms international press
Mirai Nagasu's effervescent personality is causing quite a stir with the international media. What we've always known covering her is really coming through: Mirai is copy gold.

What's Nagasu going to remember about the Opening Ceremonies? Sweat and white pants.

"Standing at the bottom of the pit for like four hours in white pants so we couldn't sit down. We [the athletes] we're all fighting because everyone wanted to be up front ... I was sweating like I was in a sauna."

What's in the Mirai sushi roll: Salmon, tuna, yellow tail tuna, spicy fish eggs, masago and shrimp tempura. "It's pink," described Nagasu.

Flatt-out smart
What's Rachael Flatt doing Monday? Flying home.

The reigning national champion is headed back to Colorado Springs for a few days. She will attend school Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday -- flying back to Vancouver on Friday.

In case you haven't read it 2,000 times this year, she's taking four AP classes. (We implore the worldwide press to stop asking her about this ad nauseum).

Interesting morsels
Lysacek and Weir deep in conversation after the men's press conference.

Lysacek chose not to stay in the Olympic village, he's in a hotel -- visiting the athlete village from time to time.

Only two U.S. coaches got to march in the opening ceremonies Friday night: Frank Carroll, Igor Shpilband.

What's Abbott listening to on his iPod: He's in total shuffle mode.

Flatt is rooming with Emily Samuelson.

Tom Zakrajsek is rooming with Frank Carroll in a quad-lodge with Jim Peterson and Lyndon Johnston.

Late night emails
U.S. judge Joe Inman has caused a stir with his emails admonishing other judges to reconsider the high program component scores dished out to Evgeni Plushenko and Brian Joubert, but Evan Lysacek isn't buying it.

"Internationally at least I've seen really accurate scores for the last three or four seasons," said Lysacek. "They've been really on the ball. Some of the skepticism on this new scoring system came because a lot of us weren't well educated on it, and then the season [2004/5] came and we had to start it.

"I don't know if Plushenko is over marked, because I haven't competed against him since Turin. All I know is the scores he got there. I think for the competitions I've been at, and the comparisons between different skaters and my own scores, I feel that they've been pretty darn accurate on everything, not just components."