Johnny Weir

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Johnny Weir
JohnnyWeir2010.jpg
Weir at the 2010 GLAAD Media Awards
Personal information
Country represented United States
Born (1984-07-02) July 2, 1984 (age 29)
Coatesville, Pennsylvania
Height 5 ft 9 in (1.75 m)
Coach Galina Zmievskaya
Former coach Viktor Petrenko, Priscilla Hill
Choreographer Johnny Weir, Galina Zmievskaia, Nikolai Morozov
Former choreographer David Wilson, Nina Petrenko, Natalia Linichuk, Tatiana Tarasova, Shanetta Folle, Denis Petukhov, Priscilla Hill, Evgeni Platov, Marina Anissina, Maya Usova, Faye Kitarieva, Michelle Poley, Carolanne Leone, Giuseppe Arena, Anjelika Krylova, Yuri Sergeyev
Skating club SC of New York
Training locations Wayne, New Jersey
Moscow
Former training locations Newark, Delaware
Simsbury, Connecticut
Began skating 1996
Retired 2013
ISU personal best scores
Combined total 238.87
2010 Winter Olympics
Short program 84.60
2009–2010 GPF
Free skate 156.77
2010 Winter Olympics

John Garvin "Johnny" Weir-Voronov[1] (born July 2, 1984) is an American figure skater. He is the 2008 World bronze medalist, a two-time Grand Prix Final bronze medalist, the 2001 World Junior Champion, and a three-time U.S. national champion (2004–2006).

Early life

Weir at a party in 2010

Weir was born in Coatesville, Pennsylvania, to John and Patti Weir. He is of Norwegian heritage.[2] He has a brother, Brian, who is four years younger.[3][4] Weir was raised in Quarryville, Pennsylvania, a town in southern Lancaster County.[5] As a child, he was a successful equestrian, competing with his pony, My Blue Shadow, an Arabian-Shetland cross.[6][7]

Soon after Weir began skating at the age of 12, his family moved to Newark, Delaware, so he could be near his training rink and coach.[8] In the summer of 2007, he moved to Lyndhurst, New Jersey, and began training in nearby Wayne.[9] Weir was an honor roll student at Newark High School and studied linguistics part-time at the University of Delaware before dropping out to concentrate on his skating.[8][10]

Personal life

Weir's sexual orientation had long been the subject of media speculation; however, prior to 2011 when asked about his sexuality, Weir responded "...it's not part of my sport and it's private. I can sleep with whomever I choose and it doesn't affect what I'm doing on the ice."[11] In his memoir Welcome to My World, published January 2011, Weir officially came out as gay, citing a string of gay youth suicides as one reason for his decision: "With people killing themselves and being scared into the closet, I hope that even just one person can gain strength from my story."[12][13][14][15][16] In addition, Weir has been identified by some as genderqueer because of his gender ambiguous style.[17]

Weir married Victor Voronov (b. 1984), a Georgetown Law graduate of Russian Jewish descent,[18][19] in a December 2011 civil ceremony on New Year's Eve in New York City.[20][21] Weir said, the "wedding [will be] in the summer, but all the official stuff is done now!"[22] Weir's representative said, "The couple has taken the new surname, Weir-Voronov, but professionally, Johnny will continue to be known as Johnny Weir."[21] In February 2014, Weir filed for a divorce, citing domestic difficulties.[23]

Weir is a self-proclaimed Russophile who admires the skating style and culture of Russia[24] and taught himself to speak and read the language. He also speaks some French[25] and Japanese.[26] He is a collector of Russian Cheburashka memorabilia.[27] In 2010 a main-belt asteroid, discovered in 1995 by T. V. Kryachko, was named by NASA after the skater, at the suggestion of his Russian fans.[28]

Weir was raised Roman Catholic and has stated he is open to other belief systems, including practicing Kabbalah, stating, "I believe in anything good, and anything that can teach love".[29][30] In February 2012, Weir stated that he was considering converting to Judaism.[31]

In 2006 Weir had two pet chihuahuas named Bon-Bon and Vanya[27] In 2012, Weir brought home a puppy, which was named Artem Viktorovich Weir-Voronov, Tyoma or Tëma.[32]

Controversies

Gender questions 2010

During the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, two Canadian broadcasters commented on Weir's performances, made derogatory comments about his sexuality, and questioned his gender.[33][34] Speculating on why Weir did not receive a medal during the Olympics even though he had good technical scores, Claude Mailhot of the French-language RDS network said, “This may not be politically correct, but do you think he lost points due to his costume and his body language?” Alain Goldberg replied about the judging, ”They’ll think all the boys who skate will end up like him. It sets a bad example.” Goldberg then said, “We should make him [Weir] pass a gender test at this point,” and Mailhot commented that Weir should compete in the women’s division. Weir responded in a press conference, saying "I’ve heard worse in bathrooms." He went on to say " I don’t want 50 years from now more young boys and girls to have to go through this sort of thing." The two men later issued an apology.[34]

Wearing fur 2010

During the 2010 Olympics, Weir became the center of an animal rights controversy by wearing fox fur on his skating costume at that event. He received protests from the animal rights groups Friends of Animals and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).[35][36] When the protests escalated to threats of violence against him, Weir announced he would remove the fur from his costume, although he continued to defend wearing fur as a "personal choice,"[37] later noting that the activists managed to overlook the fact that all ice skaters wore leather boots. Threats from animal rights activists also forced Weir to alter his housing arrangements for the Olympics in Vancouver. He had intended to stay in a Vancouver hotel, but for security reasons, chose to stay at the secure Olympic Village, sharing a suite with fellow American figure skater Tanith Belbin.[38][39]

Olympic boycott 2013

In 2013 Weir became involved in the discussion of whether the US should boycott the Sochi Olympics because of Russia's anti-gay laws. After publicly expressing his opinion, he received personal threats.[40] He was picketed by Queer Nation outside an appearance at Barnard College in December for his position that “the Olympics are not the place to make a political statement” about Russia’s anti-gay laws and “you have to respect the culture of a country you are visiting.” Weir called the experience "eye-opening," and went on to respond through further media interviews.[41]

Awards

In July 2008, the United States Figure Skating Association and Skating Magazine announced Weir as the winner of the 2008 Reader's Choice Award for Skater of the Year, an annual trophy voted upon by skating fans and awarded to the American skater or skating team whose achievements were of the highest merit in the previous season.[42] In 2010, Weir won this award again.[43]

In 2013 the non-profit foundation Delaware Valley Legacy Fund honored Weir as a 2013 National Hero.[44]

Career

Early career

Weir became interested in figure skating at the age of eleven while watching Oksana Baiul win her 1994 Olympic gold medal. He taught himself how to jump on roller skates in his basement. His parents eventually bought him a pair of used figure skates, and he practiced on a frozen cornfield behind his family home.[25][45] His parents then purchased group lessons for him at the University of Delaware, where coach Priscilla Hill soon noticed his talent and took him on as a private student.[7]

Although he began skating at the relatively late age of 12, Weir progressed quickly through the ranks. He performed an Axel jump in his first week on skates.[7] His parents could not afford to support both his figure skating and his equestrian pursuits, so Weir gave up his pony, My Blue Shadow, and turned his focus completely to figure skating. He competed in pair skating with Jodi Rudden on the juvenile and intermediate levels, but gave it up to concentrate on single skating.[7]

Weir's first major victory came in 2001 when, at the age of 16, he skated three clean programs at the World Junior Championships and won the gold medal ahead of fellow American Evan Lysacek.[46] This was the first time since 1987 that the U.S. had placed first and second on the World Junior podium.[47] Weir also placed sixth that year in his debut at the senior U.S. Championships.[25]

At the 2003 U.S. Championships, he literally hit the wall during his long program. He restarted the program, but immediately injured his knee on a failed triple axel landing. This time he was too injured to restart, so he withdrew from the competition.[48] Shortly after this competition, he switched club affiliation from the University of Delaware FSC to the Skating Club of New York, which he still represents.[49]

2003–2004 season

Weir competing at the 2004 NHK Trophy

The 2003–2004 season was the turning point for Weir. He qualified for the U.S. Nationals by winning his regional and sectional championships. He received the first 6.0 of his career during his long program at 2004 U.S. Championships, winning the gold over Michael Weiss and Matthew Savoie.[50] He then competed at the World Championships and placed fifth.[25]

2004–2005 season

In the 2004–2005 season Weir won his first two Grand Prix titles. He won the first at the 2004 NHK Trophy in Japan and the second at 2004 Trophée Eric Bompard in France.[25] Only two Grand Prix events per season can count toward a skater's point totals under ISU rules,[51] but Weir also skated at the 2004 Cup of Russia for no official points and took the silver medal behind reigning world champion Evgeni Plushenko.[52]

At the 2005 U.S. Championships, he earned five 6.0's for presentation with his free skate to Otonal and successfully defended his national title.[53] He went on to compete at the 2005 World Championships with a landing foot injury and placed fourth.[54]

2005–2006 season

The 2005–2006 Olympic season proved difficult for Weir. He came in seventh at Skate Canada after spraining his ankle on a jump landing at the start of the free skate and struggling through the rest of the program,[55] and third at Cup of Russia.[25]

In December 2005 he won the men's competition at the 2005 Marshall's Figure Skating Challenge, in which results were determined live by call-in votes and texts from viewers, in the final round over Michael Weiss with 64% of the vote.[56]

At the 2006 U.S. Championships, he won his third consecutive title and, as the national champion, was automatically named to the U.S. Olympics and World teams.[57]

At the 2006 Winter Olympics, Weir skated a personal best short program and was in second place behind Evgeni Plushenko in that segment. However, Weir omitted some of his planned jumps in the free skate, and finished off of the podium in fifth place.[58]

At the 2006 World Championships, Weir finished seventh, fighting a nagging back injury.[59]

2006–2007 season

Weir began the 2006–2007 competitive season at Skate Canada, where he placed third, then went on to Cup of Russia and won the silver medal, his third consecutive medal at that event.[25] He placed second at the 2006 Marshall's Figure Skating Challenge with his performance to The Swan, an exhibition version of his Olympic program, and Weir's signature piece.[60]

Weir withdrew from the 2006–2007 Grand Prix Final before the free skate due to a hip injury he sustained in a freak fall during the short program.[61] At the 2007 U.S. Championships, Weir was in second place after the short program, less than a point behind Evan Lysacek. In the free program, he was unable to complete his triple axel combination, fell on a triple loop and doubled several of his planned combinations. He attempted a quadruple toe loop but it was heavily two-footed on the landing. Weir lost his national title and finished in third place.[62] At the 2007 World Championships, Weir placed eighth.[25]

2007–2008 season

After the disappointments of the 2006–2007 season, Weir made the decision to shake up his training regimen by leaving the only coach he had ever had, Priscilla Hill, moving out of his family home and moving on his own to New Jersey to train with Ukrainian coach Galina Zmievskaya.[63][64] He subsequently had a great start to his 2007–2008 season at the Cup of China where he skated two clean and strong programs, achieving new personal best scores for both his free skate and overall score and winning the gold medal over fellow American Evan Lysacek.[65] He then went on to Cup of Russia and took the gold medal there, as well.[3] The two first place finishes secured him a spot at the 2007–2008 Grand Prix Final, where Weir competed with a recurring injury in his landing foot and stumbled in both his short and long programs but still managed to place 4th overall.[3]

At the 2008 U.S. Championships, Weir won the short program over Evan Lysacek by 1.35 points but Lysacek won the long program by exactly the same amount, resulting in a tie. Weir completed a slightly two-footed quadruple toe loop in his long program and scored more points on his jumps and in the program components than Lysacek but Lysacek scored more points for his spins and footwork.[66] Under ISU rules, in the event of a tie the winner of the long program is awarded the gold medal,[51] so Weir received the silver.[67][68][69]

At the 2008 World Championships, the United States had failed to medal in every other discipline when the men took the ice last. Weir skated a short program that received a career-best score and put him in second place. In the free program, he skated steadily but tentatively, eliminating the second jump from his first planned combination and doubling a planned triple jump on another combination. However, the program was strong enough for Weir to win his first World medal – a bronze – and kept the United States from being shut out of the medals at a World Championship for the first time since 1994.[70]

2008–2009 season

Weir began the 2008–2009 season by winning the silver medal at Skate America in October 2008.[71] He then went on to the NHK Trophy in late November, where he competed while suffering from a severe cold but still managed to win his second silver medal of the season.[72] These two finishes qualified him for the 2008–2009 Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final, where he won the bronze medal in December 2008.[73]

During the 2008 Christmas holiday Weir traveled to South Korea to perform in a charity skating show. While there, he contracted a severe stomach virus that landed him in the hospital and caused him to lose eight pounds in a single day. He was unable to regain all of the weight or train at full capacity before the 2009 U.S. Championships in January 2009, where he singled the planned triple axel in both his short and long programs and also fell on the triple lutz in the long, resulting in a fifth-place finish. It was the first time since 2003 that he had been off the podium at Nationals.[74] He was subsequently not named to the U.S. team for the World Championships.

2009–2010 season

In preparation for the 2009–2010 season Weir went to top skating choreographer David Wilson to create his competitive programs. On September 26, 2009, he debuted his short program, which was set to music by Raúl di Blasio, at a benefit to commemorate 9/11.[75]

In the 2009 Grand Prix season Weir finished a disappointing fourth at Cup of Russia after doubling several of the triple jumps in both his short and long programs, but two weeks later rallied to win silver at the NHK Trophy, while suffering from a cold and sinus infection.[76] This qualified Weir for the 2009-2010 Grand Prix Final in Tokyo, Japan, where he won the bronze medal.[77]

Weir won the bronze medal at the 2010 U.S. Championships in Spokane, Washington and was subsequently named to the U.S. team for the Olympics. At the 2010 Winter Olympics, Weir finished sixth overall, with a new personal-best combined score of 238.87.[78]

2010–2013

Weir did not compete during the 2010–2011 season and confirmed in June 2011 that he would also miss the 2011–2012 season, while suggesting a competitive return was still possible.[79][80] Weir indicated that he hoped to compete in the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, "even though I'll [he'll] be old".[81]

In January 2012, Weir stated his intention to return to competition in the 2012–2013 season[82][83][84] He said that he would continue to work with Galina Zmievskaya, Viktor Petrenko and Nina Petrenko at the Ice House in Hackensack, New Jersey.[84] In May 2012, Weir was assigned to two 2012 Grand Prix events, the 2012 Rostelecom Cup and the 2012 Trophee Eric Bompard.[85] He returned to competition at the 2012 Finlandia Trophy.[86] He said, "I never wanted one more minute of competitive ice skating after Vancouver but let yourself sit and cook for two years, and anything is possible. [...] there is nothing like competing and the feeling it gives me."[86]

Due to an injury to his right hip, Weir withdrew from the 2012 Rostelecom Cup after the short program and the 2012 Trophee Eric Bompard before the start of the event.[87] He decided not to compete at the 2013 U.S. Championships.[88]

In September 2013, U.S. Figure Skating announced that Weir had not registered for qualifying events to the 2014 U.S. Championships, where skaters compete for Olympic berths.[89] On October 23, 2013, Weir announced his retirement from competitive skating and that he would join NBC Olympics as a figure skating analyst for the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi.[90][91]

Coaching and Technique

Weir and Zmievskaya during the 2008 Grand Prix Final

From the beginning of his career at age twelve, Weir trained under coach Priscilla Hill. They worked together first at the University of Delaware in Newark and after the 2002/2003 season moved to the Pond Ice Arena, also in Newark. Weir also spent part of each summer between 2003 and 2005 working with Russian coach Tatiana Tarasova at the International Skating Center of Connecticut in Simsbury, Connecticut.[92] In the summer of 2007 when he moved to the Ice Vault Arena in Wayne, New Jersey, Weir was coached instead by Galina Zmievskaya, who previously coached Weir's idol Oksana Baiul.[93][94] Zmievskaya's son-in-law and Olympic gold medallist Viktor Petrenko acted as Weir's assistant coach, and her daughter Nina Petrenko was one of his choreographers.[3]

Weir was recognized for "bringing flash to a snoozy sport."[26] Analysts noted that he was exceptionally artistic in his approach to competition, and that this quality was achieved through superior technique, including basic stroking and spins.[95] Unlike most figure skaters, he is a clockwise spinner and jumper.[61]

Celebrity and popular culture career

Ice shows

Weir skated with the Champions on Ice touring ice show every spring from 2004 until 2007, their last season before going out of business.[96][97] He has also performed in Russia, Japan, China and South Korea.

Documentary and TV series

Pop Star on Ice, a documentary about Weir and his career by filmmakers James Pellerito and David Barba, was filmed between 2006 and Spring 2008. It premiered at the Seattle International Film Festival on May 24, 2009 and was scheduled to show at film festivals across the United States in the Spring and Summer of 2009 before airing on the Sundance Channel on December 24, 2009.[98] The filmmakers also created a multiple-episode TV series entitled Be Good Johnny Weir. Season one aired on the Sundance Channel in early 2010.[99] The series moved to Logo in 2012 for season two.

Other television appearances

After the 2006 Winter Olympics, he taught Kathy Griffin how to skate in the season two finale of Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List.[100]

After the 2010 Winter Olympics, Weir appeared on many talk shows and skating shows. In 2010, he appeared in an episode of When I Was 17 on the MTV network, describing his experiences in high school.[101] In season three of The Rachel Zoe Project, Weir was dressed by Rachel and her assistant Brad Goreski to attend an event. In 2010 he was a judge on the U.S. reality show Skating with the Stars.[102] He was also a guest judge on the Logo reality series RuPaul's Drag Race season three.

In 2012 he appeared on Say Yes to the Dress, in which he accompanied a bride and tried on a dress for himself.[103]

In 2013, Weir competed on the second season of Food Network's Rachael vs. Guy: Celebrity Cook-Off, as a member of "Team Guy". He played for the Human Rights Campaign and came in 5th place. He also guest starred on Dora the Explorer for Nickelodeon.

In 2014 Weir and Tara Lipinski worked as a broadcast team for ice skating events at the Sochi Winter Olympics. As a result of positive reviews for the event, they were invited to appear as fashion commentators for Access Hollywood at the 86th Academy Awards with host Billy Bush.[104]

Writing

In 2011 Weir published an autobiography titled Welcome to My World in which he traced the path he took to become a skating champion, plus outlined his philosophy. In the book, he also confirmed that he is gay. Weir also writes a column for the Falls Church News-Press which is published on the "National Commentary" page.[105]

Musical career

In addition to his skating career, Weir has also recorded a pop song produced by Lucian Piane titled "Dirty Love". It was recorded in April 2010, and released as a single worldwide on January 11, 2011. The single moved to number 1 on the Amazon sales charts in Japan shortly after release.[106]

Fashion

Weir has an interest in fashion design and, in addition to designing some of his own skating costumes, has designed ice dancing costumes for Melissa Gregory and Denis Petukhov,[107] and show costumes for Oksana Baiul.[108] In 2010 Weir opened a Be Unique fashion label with a line of $95 black jackets.[109] He also designed Yuzuru Hanyu's costume for his free program of 2010-2011 season,[110] including one he wore while winning the gold medal at the 2014 Winter Olympics.[111] In 2011 Weir designed a line of women's dresses for eDressMe.com and appeared in a photo shoot to advertise the offering.[112]

Off the ice, Weir has appeared in a fashion spread in BlackBook magazine[113][114] Vanity fair, Vogue Japan[115] and others. He also modeled in runway shows for the fashion label Heatherette.[116]

Promotions

Charity

He serves on the Board of Governors of nPlay, a nonprofit organization devoted to fighting childhood obesity and promoting a healthy lifestyle for young people.[117]

Johnny Weir at the Los Angeles LGBT pride parade in 2011

Weir collaborated with Traver Rains to raise money for The Trevor Project in 2010.

In 2013 the Delaware Valley Legacy Fund established the Johnny & Victor Weir-Voronov Scholarship Fund for LGBTQ Youth.[118]

Advertisements

Weir has been featured in ads for the M.A.C. 2011 holiday collection Glitter and Ice.[119]

Programs

Weir performing his exhibition "Poker Face" at the 2009 Festa On Ice
Season Short program Free skating Exhibition
2012–2013
[120]
2010–2011 Did not compete that season Did not compete that season
  • A Comme Amour
    by Heartbroken
2009–2010
[121]
"Fallen Angel":
2008–2009
[3]
  • Sur Les Ailes du Temps
    by Saint-Preux
    choreo. by Nina Petrenko


2007–2008
[122]
  • Yunona I Avos
    by Svetlana Pikous
    choreo. by Faye Kitarieva

  • All In Love Is Fair
  • Painful Longing
    by Stevie Wonder
    choreo. by Johnny Weir

2006–2007
[123]




  • All In Love Is Fair
  • Painful Longing
    by Stevie Wonder
    choreo. by Johnny Weir


2005–2006
[124]

2004–2005
[6][125]


  • Yunona and Avos
    by Alexei Rybnikov
    choreo. by Priscilla Hill, Johnny Weir
2003–2004
[126]
2002–2003
[127]
  • Doctor Zhivago
    by Maurice Jarre
    choreo. by Giuseppe Arena, Anjelika Krylova
2001–2002
[128][129]
Themes from:
2000–2001
[129][130]
  • Les Parapluies de Cherbourg
    by Michel Legrand
    performed by Itzhak Perlman
    choreo. by Yuri Sergeyev
  • The Heart of Budapest
    by Mantovani
    choreo. by Yuri Sergeyev

1999–2000
[129]

1998–1999
[129]
1997–1998
[129]
  • Russian folk music
    by Svetit Mesiatz
    choreo. by Yuri Sergeyev
1996–1997
[129]
  • Rudy
    choreo. by Yuri Sergeyev

Competitive highlights

The men's podium at the 2008 World Championships
From left: Johnny Weir (3rd), Jeffrey Buttle (1st), Brian Joubert (2nd)

Senior results

Results[131]
International
Event 2001–02 2002–03 2003–04 2004–05 2005–06 2006–07 2007–08 2008–09 2009–10 2012–13
Olympics 5th 6th
Worlds 5th 4th 7th 8th 3rd
Four Continents 4th
Grand Prix Final WD WD 4th 3rd 3rd
GP Cup of China 1st
GP Cup of Russia WD 2nd 3rd 2nd 1st 4th WD
GP Lalique/Bompard 4th 1st WD
GP NHK Trophy WD 1st 2nd 2nd
GP Skate America 2nd
GP Skate Canada 7th 7th 3rd
Finlandia 2nd 4th
Goodwill Games 10th
National
U.S. Champ. 5th WD 1st 1st 1st 3rd 2nd 5th 3rd
Eastern Sect. 1st
Team events
Japan Inter. Chall. 2T / 4P
GP = Grand Prix; WD = Withdrew
T = Team result; P = Personal result; Medals awarded for team result only.

Pre-2001 results

Results[131]
International
Event 1996–97 1997–98 1998–99 1999–00 2000–01
Junior Worlds 1st
JGP China 2nd
JGP Czech Republic 7th
JGP France 6th
JGP Norway 2nd
JGP Slovakia 1st
Gardena Winter Trophy 6th J.
Triglav Trophy 2nd N.
National or North American
U.S. Championships 3rd N. 4th J. 5th J. 6th
U.S. Junior Champ. 4th Ju.
Eastern Sectionals 1st N. 1st J. 1st J. 1st
South Atlantic Reg. 1st Ju. 1st N.
NACS, Winnipeg 1st N.
JGP = Junior Grand Prix
Levels: Ju. = Juvenile; N. = Novice; J. = Junior

References

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  6. ^ a b Mittan, Barry (January 9, 2005). "Weir Seeks to Retain U. S. Title". Skate Today. 
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  8. ^ a b Strauss, Amy (January 2008). "Johnny Drama". Philadelphia Magazine. Archived from the original on July 20, 2011. 
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External links