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Talk of the Games

The medal standings tell only part of the sports story of what's happening at the Games. For the rest, check out the latest dispatches from The Seattle Times' sports crew of columnists, reporters and producers.

February 19, 2010 at 4:39 PM

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Ice Dancing live thread

Posted by Bob Condotta

WRAPPING IT UP --- Well, that was my first Ice Dancing event ever, and probably my last. It's an easy event to make fun of and I wanted to have my mind as open as possible --- like almost every event here, it's hard not to appreciate the skill and athleticism when you see it up close and in person, no matter what you think of the event.

But the compulsories are a bad introduction to this sport --- 23 couples doing the same routine to the same music.

I focused my story on the fact that they may dump this part of the event in future Olympics --- and maybe altogether --- and even some of the skaters seemed to think that wouldn't be a bad idea, that it's kind of a waste of time.

The compulsories of the individual figuring skating were eliminated prior to the 1992 Olympics for the same reason.

As for what happened on the ice, pretty much nothing unexpected. All the top teams got scores that are good enough to leave them in position to win.

There was some sentiment afterward that there may be pressure on the Russian team of Domnina and Shabalin to win --- and for the judges to make sure they are properly rewarded --- after Evgeni Plushenko came in second on Thursday. Just what everyone needs --- more ice skating controversy.

If nothing else, it's another sub plot for the competitions here Sunday and Monday. And I think I'll actually try to watch if I can.

FIRST NATIONS SUPPORTING RUSSIAN TEAM? --- If you watch tonight, you'll see Domnina and Shabalin wearing some blankets in the "kiss and cry'' area. They explained later that they had a meeting with the local First Nations group and were presented with the blankets. "They were very open and kind and wished us good luck,'' said Shabalin.

The meeting has signifigance because the team drew controversy for the Aboriginal costumes they wore at the European championships (details here). Sounds like they might be setting the stage to show they have support of the First Nations group to sear the same costumes again.

DOMNINA AND SHABALIN TAKE LEAD --- Sorry, I had to get to the mixed zone and unable to keep pace there for a while.

But the famed Russian team will have the best score of the night at 43.76.

The Candian duo of Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir will be second at 42.74. They were the last team of the night and drew a predictably rowdy reaction from the crowd with their score.

The American team of Davis and White will slip to third at 41.47 band Tanith Belbin and Benjamin Agosto will be fourth at 40.83.

WHITE, DAVIS TAKE LEAD --- The American team had a flawless routine that earned a score of 41.47 and has them in first place by almost four points.

COMPETITION BACK ON --- We're back, and the reigning American champs, Meryl Davis and Charlie White, are next.

LONG BREAK --- A long break here to re-do the ice --- no issues I can see such as happened earlier in the games, just a scheduled break here at about the halfway point.

By the way, for ice skating fans, here's a good web site with lots of detail on the competitions here.

FIRST AMERICANS HIT THE ICE --- We're 14 teams through and we've finally had four first U.S. team on the ice, Emily Samuelson and Evan Bates --- their season best was 31.47 and they almost matched it here with a 31.37, putting them in fifth place.

A NEW LEADER --- There's a new leader after 12 groups, and it's one of the more intriguing teams here, the French couple of Isabelle Delobel and Olivier Schoenfelder at 37.99. They were the 1998 World Champs but haven't competed since Dec. 2008 as Delobel suffered a couple injuries, then gave birth to a son. But they are regarded as something of a wild card entry here.

THROUGH EIGHT GROUPS --- The leader is the team of Anna Zadorozhniuk and Sergei Verbillo (hope I don't have to spell that much on deadline) with a score of 33.87. They are from the Ukraine. Second is the Italian team of Anna Cappellini and Luca Lanotte at 33.13. Yes, his name is Luca. Not sure if she lives on the second floor, however.

IS THIS THE LAST COMPULSORY DANCE COMPETITION? --- One thing learning talking to some people out here is that this could be the last compulsory dance competition in the Olympics. The fact that the all 23 teams do the same dance to the same music obviously isn't the most exciting event ever and the thought is that everyone might be better served if they combine elements of the compulsory with the original competition.

THIS IS FIRST OF THREE PARTS OF THIS COMPETITION --- Tonight is the compulsory dance, as explained below. Sunday is the Original Dance and then Monday is the Free Dance. Like in other figure skating, the possible point totals go up as the competition progresses.

The scoring system is way more complicated than it ought to be, but essentially tonight the top skaters can get about 40 points out of the 200 total for the whole thing --- so about 20 percent. So this isn't make or break at all, but teams can get into a little hole with bad performances here.

Kind of like stumbling out of the gate in April for the Yankees or something.

ARENA MAYBE TWO-THIRDS FULL --- If you see my picture below ---- taken about five minutes before action got underway --- and it looks like there's a lot of empty seats, there are. I'd say it's about 70 percent full here right now, and this is supposed to be a popular event.

Most of the empty seats are closer to the action, and VANOC has explained that many of those belong to corporate sponsors and other VIPs, who are more likely to either not use their tickets or show up late. They are trying to encourage those people to give/sell those tickets if they aren't going to be used. Here, I'm thinking a lot of people know the really good skaters don't start until 6 p.m. or so and are waiting --- and it's a little bit of a haul out here, as well. Half-hour by bus from the media center in downtown.

A FEW START TIMES --- There are three American pairs entered and none skates until after 6 p.m. ---- or 9 p.m. if you are watching on TV.

Emily Samuelson and Evan Bates will skate at 6:34, current national champs Meryl Davis and Charlie White will go at 7:11, and Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto, silver medalists in 2006, will skate at 7:34. Again, add three hours if you're in Seattle.

TONIGHT'S FORMAT --- The event tonight is the compulsary competition, where all 23 pairs have to perform the same standerdized steps and holds to their choice of one of five pieces of pre-determined muscis (sadly for me, no KISS on that list).

The compulsary dance itself is the "Tango Romantica,'' chosen, according to the press release in front of me, because it is "a sinuous dance that expresses the soft, lyrical interpretive charateristics of the Tango in which foot and body movements must be deliberate and convey a sense of arrogance.''

So there you go.

EVENT NEARING --- Yes, we're going to try another live blog from an event I admittedly know little about --- Ice Dancing. As a hardened sports writer whose daily bread and butter is football and basketball, I've never written a story about this sport.

But the pickings in Vancouver were actually kind of slim tonight, and there's no doubting the popularity of this as an Olympic event (there may be some who question it, however).

Anyway, I've spent much of the afternoon researching it, so I'll have a few things to pass along as the event gets under way, along with telling you the results --- and all three hours before any of you in Seattle will get to see it.

Competition starts here at 4:50 local time but it lasts until amost 8 and all the big guns don't compete until the final two groups, which go off at 7 p.m.

Here's what the ice looks like from my seat on press row:


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