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Travels in Tokyo, Part 4by Laura Fawcett
That's what it was like, predictably, during the ladies short program. But the pandemonium was all backstage in the mixed zone, as Japanese reporters fought to talk to all of the contenders, not just their home team.
The best mixed zones either utilize a microphone (not possible here due to the proximity of TV interviews), or the employ a kind of cattle herd method. The reporters line up against a barrier, and the athlete is escorted and stopped about every 20 feet or so to answer the same three or four questions. This allows every reporter to hear clearly what is being sad.
That is not what happens here. The skater is stopping once, and the reporters are five or six deeps crowding to hear the tinny voices of the ladies competitors.
It isn't easy.
Overall, it was a spectacular evening. It seems the triple-triple might actually become the leveling point between the best and the rest. Athletes here and there have done the triple-triple, but it seems it might be here to stay.
It was most difficult to talk to Alissa Czisny after she skated. She had a brave smile on her face for what obviously was a disappointing and crushing experience.
ESPN took forever to talk to Emily. I started to go gray waiting for her in the mixed zone. The event had been over for five minutes before I got the chance to speak to her.
Yesterday, I showed someone the kind of door I broke. She understood how it happened, as she had also been confused by a similar door. That made me feel a little better. I also wondered whether people did notice that I broke the door. The Japanese are very polite, and they probably didn't want to embarass me by staring.
I was also a rulebreaker today. Jaywalked. Yep, did it. It's been one of the hardest things to get used to here, and it's maddening. People just don't cross the street if the light is red. It could take three minutes with no cars in sight, and they still stand there … ugh!
I didn't rule-break on my own, though, I did follow the lead of a local man.
Yesterday was also the ice dancing final. Tanith and Ben were very surprised to get a medal. It was not that their performance was bad; it certainly wasn't. But they know they can't make two mistakes and leave the door open for others – not when the teams are separated by only a couple of points.
Both of them were already in the locker room changing their clothes when they were told the bronze was theirs. I suspect that's why Tanith's hair was down for the medal ceremony – she was getting back into her street clothes.
Tanith said Thursday that she would be more nervous watching Evan Lysacek skate than skating herself. I wonder if Evan feels the same way?
Meryl and Charlie finished Worlds and now have one thing on their minds – school. On my way back from lunch today I heard Meryl was studying.
Tonight there is a team party at a nightclub somewhere in the city. That is so how I operate. I will go to the party, but I won't know where it is and how to get there until it's that time. Apparently it's quite the swanky place, and it hosts a lot of celebrities, including Michael Jackson and Will Smith recently.
Went to lunch on my own today, and yes, I went outside the box and had a Japanese noodle bowl. On the way back I ran into many of the U.S. team members heading out for lunch, sightseeing or whatever – Kimmie and her mom (off to Subway?), Melissa and Denis (along with Melissa's mom), Johnny Weir and his mom, and team doctor Christine Lawless and physical therapist Melinda Couch.
Outside of the hotel, the ever-present Japanese girl mob was surrounding Italy's Karel Zelenka.
The mob is everywhere, and individuals stake out places in the lobby for star sightings. There's a look of sadness every time I exit the elevator in the lobby – yep, I'm nobody famous.
It's been a long week, and I have never quite adjusted to the time. I'm still thinking it's Friday, even though it's Saturday. Most of the team members will leave tomorrow or Monday. Me? I'm staying a full week for vacation, yes, a real vacation.
I promise I am done with McDonald's.
Except maybe a McFlurry.