Belbin leaves decorating to Weir

U.S. ice dancers Tanith Belbin and Benjamin Agosto set their sights on an Olympic medal. Due to a housing problem, Belbin is sharing a suite with Johnny Weir.
U.S. ice dancers Tanith Belbin and Benjamin Agosto set their sights on an Olympic medal. Due to a housing problem, Belbin is sharing a suite with Johnny Weir.
Posted: February 13, 2010

VANCOUVER - Regardless of how things go at the rink, ice dancer Tanith Belbin will have some interesting 2010 Winter Olympic stories to tell her grandchildren.

She can tell them how she and partner Ben Agosto trudged through waist-high Delaware County snow to get in their final practices. Or how they had to reschedule their Thursday flight out of Philadelphia a dozen times. Or how their new costumes got stranded in Brooklyn and traveled to 30th Street Station on Amtrak.

Or, maybe most interestingly, she can tell them how she shared an Olympic Village room with Johnny Weir.

"I was only in my room about five minutes, but it smells amazing," Belbin said yesterday of the male skater's advance decorating. "Johnny said it did not [smell good before]. He said it smelled like wet dogs.

"It's beautiful. There are aromatic candles, and he had Audrey Hepburn posters and motivational quotes on the wall. And in the bedroom, he put away all my clothes."

The two skaters, who have Philadelphia-area connections - Belbin trains in Aston, and Weir was born in Coatesville - became an Olympic odd couple when they and defending world champion Evan Lysacek all requested single rooms. (Lysacek is both Weir's nemesis and a former boyfriend of Belbin's.)

The U.S. team, however, had only one single and one two-bedroom unit left in the athletes' village.

"I never room with anyone at competitions, and I asked that, if possible, I could have a single room," Belbin said. "Johnny and Evan were both in the same boat. It was just the three of us, and there was one room with two single bedrooms.

"And if you take Johnny and myself and Evan and do the math, the only logical answer was me and Johnny."

The flamboyant Weir, who likes to wear garish costumes and has posed bare-chested in three-inch spiked heels, had promised a day earlier to beautify the suite for Belbin, an old friend who, like him, sometimes is labeled a prima donna.

"If you didn't know, I'm a bit of a diva when it comes to my living situation," Weir said Thursday. "I think she's the best roommate I could ask for. It's going to be easy. I definitely couldn't room with one of the boys."

Belbin said she was looking forward to the experience since she had already shared a residence with Weir, who grew up in Quarryville, Pa., and trains in Wayne, N.J. When they were teenagers, he stayed with the Belbins in Detroit during a competition there.

"I have the most hilarious stories of him and my dad," she said. "One morning, my dad was getting ready for work and Johnny came down wearing a pink glitter bandanna and sunglasses the size of his face. My dad was sitting there staring at him while he was eating his cereal and he [Weir] was like, 'Did you just look at my face? I don't have my face on yet.' "

When they learned they were going to be roommates, Belbin said, Weir asked her which diva's posters she'd like decorating their walls. Belbin requested Cher but had to settle for Hepburn.

"He told me he didn't have time to find Cher," she said. "But he hoped to be able to get out and shop for those later."

Belbin and Agosto, who, along with Aston training partners Oksana Domnina and Maxim Shabalin and U.S. teammates Meryl Davis and Charlie White, should be the leading gold-medal contenders, arrived here yesterday morning after an interesting week in Delaware County.

They were originally scheduled to fly out at 6 a.m. Thursday. But when Wednesday's snowstorm was forecast, they rescheduled. And rescheduled. And rescheduled. And . . .

"We probably made a dozen reservations on different flights," Agosto said, "and they kept getting canceled or delayed."

The pair managed to get on a flight from Philadelphia to Los Angeles early Thursday, spent the night there, and reached Vancouver early yesterday.

NBC plans to televise the ice-dance finals live on Feb. 22 instead of the United States-Canada men's hockey game.

During their last week of training at the Ice Works facility in Aston, Belbin said, she had to walk through waist-high drifts in an unplowed parking lot.

Their new costumes - ordered hurriedly from a seamstress in Brooklyn when it turned out the compulsory dance wouldn't be the folk number they had skated to all season but a tango - also were waylaid.

"She was driving to Philly on Wednesday and got about halfway before she had to turn around," Belbin said. "Finally, she gave them to someone who took a train to Philly [also canceled twice], and a friend of ours met her at the station.

"But we got here. I think all that was good for us. It helped us focus on what we had to do."

It also has to help that she can leave the decorating to Weir.

"This," she said of the arrangement, "is going to be a lot of fun."


Contact staff writer Frank Fitzpatrick at 215-854-5068 or ffitzpatrick@phillynews.com.

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