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Time to kiss and cry

March 25, 2009 | 11:30 pm

Wandered over to the practice rink earlier tonight to confer with Times colleague Diane Pucin, who is getting so good at this flip-cam thing, I'm thinking she'll be entering some work in the Sundance Film Festival next year.

But that's getting ahead of ourselves.

We watched the end of Alissa Czisny's practice, and to say it did not go well would be something of an understatement. Still she came over to where we were standing, signed some autographs and bravely answered a few questions, saying, among other things: "I just had a bad day."

She was getting teary-eyed and it was turning into a painful exercise. Diane turned the camera off, mercifully.

It can be incredibly difficult for a reporter when an athlete starts to break down. Even a basic question can bring the tears whether it's a happy or sad moment. At the 2004 Summer Olympics, I remember asking the winner of the men's triathlon how he intended to celebrate his gold medal with his family. He broke down, and I looked for the nearest exit and thought about hiding under a chair.

This was clearly one of those awful days where little, if anything, was going right. (Just hope I don't get a ticket driving home from Staples Center.)

Later on, without Pucin and her camera next to me, there were more tears in the mixed zone. Keauna McLaughlin, a Tarzana native, and partner Rockne Brubaker had an error-riddled showing in the pairs long program. He fell. She fell. Triples turned into singles.

He spoke about the program first. I asked McLaughlin her impressions of the program. She gamely answered.

"It was a little disappointing," she said, her voice cracking. "Heartbreaking a little bit to work so hard and then come here and not skate to the best of our abilities."

McLaughlin took a deep breath.

"Overall, it was a good experience, a great learning experience for both of us," she said. "We're gonna have our ups and downs. It's important to just take the positive and learn from each experience."

As it was famously said, tomorrow is another day. Luckily.

Of course, that's a little more than an hour from now at the Figure Skating Late Show.

-- Lisa Dillman