Monday, December 22, 2014

Tanith and Ben arrive

Tanith and Ben arrive


They were a little worried, and a little harried, but Tanith and Ben arrived just fine.

             Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto, the most decorated U.S. ice dancers in history, delayed by the record-setting snowstorms that have buried the Mid-Atlantic states since Friday, landed in Vancouver via Los Angeles just after 10 a.m. PST today – minutes before their scheduled press conference and about 6 hours before Opening Ceremonies.

             Really, it wasn’t all that bad for them.

             Their original flight, scheduled to depart at 6 a.m. yesterday, was cancelled Monday as the region braced for a fresh deluge. They then were booked on “a dozen” rolling flights throughout the day, Agosto said, beginning in the afternoon. That included a possibility of taking a train to Boston.

             They spent the afternoon at their practice rink, receiving updates from their travel agent. It came in the late afternoon: 6 p.m. it was. They buzzed to the airport, where they waited a while longer. Finally, their 6 p.m. flight out of Philadelphia to Los Angeles took off just before 9 p.m., and they were off.

             Three hours of sleep in LA, and they hopped a flight to Vancouver. Had they missed their last option – 6 a.m. today, out of Philadelphia – they would have waited until Monday to travel. They do not compete until Friday.

             As it was, they landed, deplaned, rushed to their rooms at the Olympic Village, dropped off their stuff and scooted over to their press conference.

            They then returned to the village to decompress for a hour before the prepared for the Parade of Nations.

 It was downtime well-earned.

             They each live about 20 minutes from Aston, Pa., where they train at IceWorks. Agosto has a small SUV but Belbin, who drives a small, sporty sedan, needed a friend with a four-wheel-drive to ferry her to practice Tuesday and Wednesday. They had to park at their cars on the street; the rink’s lot was unplowed.

             Their costumes were supposed to be finished last week, but, when they visited their costumer in Brooklyn, N.Y., things were not satisfactory. The new duds were scheduled to be delivered Tuesday, but the costumer couldn’t get through the snow. The costumes finally arrived yesterday, when the costumer’s assistant trained to Philadelphia.

             Just in time.


             Heeeere’s Johnny

             Belbin doesn’t usually have a roommate. When arrived at her suite today, she was happy to have one.

             Flamboyant figure skater and Team USA Johnny Weir had decorated with Audrey Hepburn prints and had deodorized the digs, apparently with candles and other implements.

             “He said it smelled like wet dog,” Belbin said of the newly-constructed condos.

             Weir also put away her clothes. Nice, considering her harrowing trek to the great Wet North.

             Their room, Belbin explained, actually is two rooms with a shared common area – a suite, actually. She asked for a single, and this was as close as she could get; no problem since she and Weir are fast friends since their days skating in juniors thanks to the intimacy of the elite skating world.

 And, while she’s a Hepburn fan, she said she’d asked Weir for some Cher on the walls, too.

 “He said he didn’t have time to shop before he left,” Belbin said. “But he’d get some here.”

 Belbin does not room with Agosto when they travel.

 Agosto’s roommate here, figure skater Jeremy Abbott, did not decorate or deodorize.


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About this blog

SAM DONNELLON's career began in Biddeford, Me., in 1981, and has included stops in Wilkes-Barre, Norfolk, and New York, where he worked as a national writer for the short-lived but highly acclaimed National Sports Daily. He has received state and national awards at each stop and since joining the Daily News in 1992 has been honored by the Associated Press Sports Editors, the National Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association, the National Association of Black Journalists, the Associated Press Managing Editors of Pennsylvania and the Keystone Awards. He and his wife have raised three fine children, none of whom are even the least bit impressed with the above. Sam is veteran of Olympics coverage for the Daily News, including the Games in Sydney and Turin, among others.

MARCUS HAYES grew up on a small farm outside of Hermon, NY., a small town near the Canadian border about the size of Reading Terminal Market. In high school he played three varsity sports and aspired to be faster, or more skilled, or taller. Having failed in those aspirations and seeking a warmer climate, Marcus attended Syracuse University's S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and eventually graduated with a degree in Magazine Writing. He also earned a degree in English from the College of Arts and Sciences. To date he has written for no magazines. His English is spotty at best. Upon graduation in 1990, with Jim Boeheim's talent-leaden SU basketball teams having won no titles, Marcus spent 4½ years working for the now-absorbed Syracuse Herald-Journal covering high school sports, local small college sports and non-revenue sports at SU. Marcus joined the Daily News as a feature story writer in 1995. Among other assignments he has covered the Eagles and Phillies beats for most of his tenure. Still, the paper soldiers on.

Sam Donnellon and Marcus Hayes
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