American figure skater Johnny Weir, known for his flair and outlandishness on and off the ice, is having the time of his life. After retiring from the sport as a competitor, he now works as the NBC’s figure skating analyst with fellow skater Tara Lipinski.
NBC was quick to get him as expert analyst for their coverage of the U.S. Figure Skating Championships. According to NBC Olympics Executive Produce Jim Bell, they did so because of Weir’s knowledge of the sport and the competitors, and of course, his candid and fearless views. “We are thrilled to have Johnny’s perspective on the competition,” Bell added. Weir affirmed this, saying that NBC hired him knowing full well about the kind of statements he liked to make.
The task may sound easy for the opinionated Weir, but he admits it was a difficult transition. For one thing, he would be giving commentary on people he knows and respects, and another—the hardest part—he would also have to talk about those he doesn’t like. “I have to find a way to be genuine, to perform with my voice,” he said.
Weir’s on-air work provided viewers with just the right amount of technical expertise to make them understand what’s happening on the ice. He doesn’t fill the performance with commentary, and just speaks when he has something to add. He and co-analyst Lipinski have an obvious camaraderie that can be easily seen (and heard) during the show.
Weir is openly gay and is critical of Russia’s anti-gay law. He is not afraid. According to him, “Part of being afraid is not knowing, and I know Russia.” Indeed he does, being a self-proclaimed Russophile. He even taught himself to read and speak Russian. He doesn’t feel an obligation to tone down his glitzy appearance, even joking that he had packed three suitcases the size of a small car to Sochi.
Weir never imagined he would love broadcasting as much as skating, and he hopes he could continue doing so even after this year’s Winter Olympics.
Image via YouTube