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Valentine's Day

On Heidi Klum, romance in Turin and figure skating

Posted: Tuesday February 14, 2006 8:51PM; Updated: Wednesday February 15, 2006 10:26AM
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Parco del Valentino
On a day devoted to sweethearts, a couple in Turin's Parco del Valentino is clearly oblivious to a passing jogger.
Miriam Marseu/SI
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Tuesday, Feb. 14, 11:51 p.m. local, Day Five

Last month I interviewed Heidi Klum for the Swimsuit Issue.

She was naked.

I'm hoping that got your attention.

Don't bury the lead. That's what all the journalism professors used to say. So Heidi was naked, I was clothed, and it's probably best to point out that it was a body painting story. The body painter Joanne Gair is so good at her craft that it's like interviewing someone wearing a bathing suit.

Not that interviewing Heidi Klum wearing a bathing suit is a bad assignment. It's a great assignment because Heidi Klum is, well, Heidi Klum. I mention this only because today is Swimsuit day in SI Land and I know the only people reading this Olympic blog have stumbled upon it thinking it's a picture of Anne V. or Marisa Miller. Sorry to disappoint you. Heidi's husband, Seal, by the way, may be the biggest Roger Federer fan on earth. Later this month you'll learn all about his passion for tennis in an SI.com Q&A. There, I feel better that I've brought this back to sports.

Now back to the sex.

While most of you enjoyed the romance of seeing Ana Beatriz Barros and Maria Sharapova on the beach, I went in search of romance in Turin. Not a personal journey, mind you. There's a famous park here called Parco del Valentino, which sits along the River Po and is the city's largest park. If ever I could find the spirit of Valentine's Day in Turin, it had to be here. So I traveled south from the media center, past a group of kids playing pickup soccer (not something you see in the States) and headed for the river. I walked past the Princcipessa Isabella Bridge, which sounded pretty romantic for a bridge, and past stores that were selling cakes under signs that read "San Valentino 14 Febbario." Upon entering the park, I walked past 14 old guys playing bocce and visited the Borgo and Rocca Medioevale, a 15th-century mansion-cum-castle that sold old revolvers for 14 euros. (Gotta love a castle with a gift shop, but it doesn't exactly sing Valentine's Day.) Sadly, my walk in the park produced only four couples. Two were holding hands. Nobody was kissing. When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie, eh? No amore for yours truly.

I eventually ended up at Castello del Valentino, the Valentino Castle, that was housing CASA ITALIA TORINO. There was a lot of red -- as in a 300-foot red carpet -- that led me inside the building. Here, I found the romance of one thing: commercialism. There were sponsor booths everywhere: Radio Italia. Sky. Eurelstat Communications. Even the country of Greece had a booth. I purchased a Casa Italia hat and left.

After I came up empty at the Parco, I did what any writer who interviews Swimsuit models would do: I headed for men's figure skating.

Editor Demak had an extra ticket, and if only to rub it in the face of my sister the famous lawyer who loves this sport the way Dylan loved Brenda on 90210, I decided to attend my first figure skating event. I was one of 4,862 at the Palavela and I'll say this: The skaters are mighty athletic, and the crowd gets into it. Serbia and Montenegro's Trifun Zivanovic skated to Dances With Wolves ("What, no tribute to The Postman?" said Demak) while France's Brian Joubert wore a jacket with 007 in sequins on the back and skated to a song from Die Another Day. The Frenchman nearly died when he slipped on his first jump (a plot from Ernst Blofeld?) but recovered in a crowd-pleasing performance to finish fourth. I suggested to Demak that the sport would be better for television if they skated two at a time, sort of like short-track speedskating. (Clearly, I won't be replacing E.M. Swift on the beat anytime soon.) The best guy we saw, because we got there after Evgeni Plushenko, was American Johnny Weir, who set a personal best with a score of 80.00 and prompted plenty of American flag-waving in the crowd. Afterward, Weir told reporters that he was going to buy himself some roses and chocolate for Valentine's Day.

Finally, a little romance in Turin.

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