The skaters came onto ice five at a time for a 30-minute set per group. First. they warmed up by skating around then moved onto their jumps and sequences. Each skater focused on his own program while going back and forth with their coaches who stand behind the boards. Then each participant’s music is played, so that every participant has a chance to practice specific sections or the entire program to music.
When a participant’s music is playing, the other four remain on the ice and continue practicing, but stay well out of the way of the one whose music is playing. None of the men did their entire program, but all took the practice very seriously. Some were dressed in their performance costumes, others in more sporty gear. Apart from Plushenko, whose every move everyone followed, I watched Finland’s Ari-Pekka Nurmenkari (in black T-shirt), Canada’s Patrick Chan (in black long sleeves) and Sweden’s Adrian Schultheiss (in blue top), who worked hard on their jumps and footwork.
The media and judging stations were empty early on, although Canada’s Elvis Stojko, who is providing commentary for Yahoo!, and a few other reporters showed up a bit later. Quite a few cameras were there as well. By the time the pairs started rehearsing, the venue was almost full.
What was really cool was seeing Vancouver’s 30-year-old Pacific Coliseum looking all new and beautiful with its new seating, Olympic coloring and the ever-present “blue-jackets,” the Olympic volunteers. The Coliseum is the former home of the NHL-team Vancouver Canucks who now play at GM Place which, in turn, has been named Canada Hockey Place for the duration of the Olympics.
To put my Coliseum experience in perspective: The last thing I saw at the Coliseum was the Superdogs in August last year during the unabashedly folksy annual Pacific National Exhibition! From here on out, the assorted pooches, with their tails and ears flying, will be racing in an Olympic venue.
NOTE: The men's figure skating short program begins tonight.
· Olympics Observations by Tuija Seipell [Jaunted]
[Photos: Ted Topping]