Are your favorite stars from the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics figure skating commentators Tara Lipinski and Johnny Weir? You’re not alone.
The pair are getting some major recognition for everything from their chemistry and analysis to the wardrobe that’s propelled them into internet meme-dom.
But who are they? Lipinski and Weir are former Olympic skaters with medals to boast of. They know what they’re talking about, and this certainly isn’t their first Games on the other side of the rink. They have connections to the Philadelphia area, too.
Here’s a deeper look.
Origins and accolades
Weir competed in his first Olympics in 2006 in Torino, Italy, finishing fifth in the men’s short program. He went on to win a bronze medal in the 2008 World Championships, and returned to the 2010 Games in Vancouver.
Lipinksi is celebrating the 20th anniversary of her Olympic gold, won in the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan, during the ladies’ single competition.
Fans in her former hometown of Washington Township, N.J. cheered her on from thousands of miles away, according to an Associated Press article printed in the Philadelphia Daily News in 1998.
“She’s an inspiration to people our age,” former classmate Megan Mansfield, 16, at the time of publication, said. “I knew it was a dream of hers to go to the Olympics and win, but I never expected it to be this year. It’s unbelievable that she got the gold in her first Olympics and she’s only 15. It’s flabbergasting.”
Lipinski called Gloucester County home until 1992, when her family moved to Texas, according to the article.
Weir was born in Coatesville and spent his early years in Chester County, where his parents are from, the Inquirer reported in an article headlined “From the backyard to U.S. champion” published in 2004. His family then moved to Lancaster before planting roots in Newark, Del.
“I’m a Pennsylvania boy,” he told the Inquirer at the time.
Controversially, Weir also told GQ in an article published this week that he’s both a Patriots and an Eagles fan.
“I’m from and I live in the greater Philadelphia area, and the Eagles have always been a part of my upbringing and my life,” he said.
Lipinski and Weir served as commentators on the NBC Sports Network during the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, and were brought back for the summer Games. Pyeongchang is their third go as commentators.
Those who don’t know Lipinski and Weir from their skating careers may recognize them better by their clothing.
Between them, they’ve taken 21 suitcases to this year’s Games to give them options for their coordinated outfits, they told the Washington Post.
Olympics watchers have quickly taken to social media to draw comparisons between the duo’s sparkly, glam wardrobe and the get-ups in the Hunger Games.
Winter Olympics looking like The Hunger Games pic.twitter.com/7sDAxeC9ir
— Rich O'Toole (@RichOToole) February 12, 2018
— Hawkeye KSCS DJ (@HawkeyeOnAir) February 12, 2018
Accidentally recorded the Hunger Games instead of the Olympics pic.twitter.com/uhoF7xY7Kk
— Gabe Zammit (@gabezammit) February 15, 2018
— Darren (@darrendman) February 15, 2018
Weir certainly doesn’t hate the resemblance to the series’ Caesar Flickerman, played by Stanley Tucci.
“I think it’s hilarious,” Weir told NBC. “Going into Sochi, Caesar Flickerman was sort of my muse in preparing and getting ready, except I can’t laugh like he did in the movie.”
‘I’m a commentator, not a ‘complimentator”
As much as they’ve earned praise, Lipinski and Weir have received their share of criticism for being too “mean,” especially after Weir called U.S. skater Nathan Chen’s recent performance “the worst short program [he’s] ever seen from [Chen].”
On Twitter, Weir said he’s “a commentator, not a ‘complimentator.’ ”
“Explaining falls and rough skates is hard because I have been that skater, and truth can hurt,” he wrote. “But I would never be able to do my job without telling the truth about every aspect of figure skating and the performances you’ll see.”
I’m a commentator, not a “complimentator.” Explaining falls and rough skates is hard because I have been that skater, and truth can hurt. But I would never be able to do my job without telling the truth about every aspect of figure skating and the performances you’ll see.
— Johnny Weir (@JohnnyGWeir) February 10, 2018
Lipinski told the Washington Post they “call it as [they] see it.”
“We’ve been skaters, so we totally understand where they’re coming from, and of course we wish everyone could stand out. But some days you just have bad days, and if people really want to get invested in this sport, they have to know the ins and outs and it has to be honest.”
Weir, who is openly gay and an LGBTQ advocate, has thrown praise to the openly gay athletes competing in this year’s Games, especially ice skater and fellow Pennsylvania native Adam Rippon, credited as being the first openly gay U.S. athlete to complete in the winter Olympics.
8 years ago, after I finished my free program at the Olympics, I had to hold a press conference to defend myself against people questioning my gender. Now, watching the world accept a vibrant and powerful hero in Adam Rippon, I am so proud & thankful to those whose came before us
— Johnny Weir (@JohnnyGWeir) February 16, 2018
Weir has also said he hopes his and Lipinski’s popularity will increase public interest in the sport they’ve been so successful in.
“Really hardcore skating fans … it’s hard to impress them,” he told USA Today. ” We are getting a lot of love from people who don’t watch skating, and that’s what we want — people to come back to our sport. But the sport itself doesn’t change much, or quickly.”