Saturday, February 13, 2016

Johnny Weir’s Olympic future: Goodbye skates, hello microphone

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Retired figure skater Johnny Weir.
Retired figure skater Johnny Weir.

Johnny Weir is taking his career off the ice. Rather than competing for gold, the decorated skater announced today he will join NBC’s Olympic team as a figure skating analyst.

The move comes after Weir’s retirement from the sport. For 16 years, Weir was a strong competitor, winning three consecutive U.S. titles in 2004, 2005 and 2006 and a bronze medal at the 2008 World Championships, as well as placing fifth at the 2006 Torino Winter Olympics and sixth at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics.

As an analyst, Weir joins a lineup of seasoned Olympic figure skaters for Sochi. He and 1998 gold-medalist Tara Lipinski will banter as analysts for NBC’s multi-platform figure skating coverage, while 2006 ice dancing silver medalist Tanith Belbin will be a reporter for NBC’s Olympic sports desk and present features for “The Olympic Zone,” a 30-minute show that will air on NBC affiliates daily.

“Johnny, Tara and Tanith have entertained judges and fans alike with their skill, style and charisma,” said Jim Bell, Executive Producer of NBC Olympics in a statement. “We’re confident those same characteristics will entertain Olympic viewers this February.”

His recent retirement will likely play a role in Weir’s coverage of the competition as the skater told TODAY, “It’ll be hard not to be out there, and I’ll probably still get sick to my stomach and nervous and go through all the emotions of a competitor.”

And while a major topic surrounding the Sochi games has been Russia’s new law against publicly gay people, Weir has expressed strong opposition to a boycott since he feels it would take away from all of the hard work these athletes have put into their skill.

“I’m a gay American. I’ve married into a Russian family. I’ve been a longtime supporter of Russia, the culture, the country, the language, everything about Russia,” Weir said. “While this law is a terrible thing that you can’t be gay publicly in Russia, I plan to be there in full support of our brothers and sisters there and not be afraid. If I get arrested, I get arrested; if not, great, but our presence is needed. For all the Olympians that worked so hard, a boycott is just the worst thing that you could do to all these young people.”

Ashleigh Schmitz
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