I’ve loved Olympian Johnny Weir for a long time. It’s only now that I’m realizing that he’s still in his 20s though! Even though he seems so twee and boyish, I did think he was already in his 30s, but he’s only 29 years old. Weir was on the Today Show yesterday, announcing his retirement from competitive figure skating. Which is a loss for America. True, Johnny didn’t medal during the last winter Olympics, but he skated beautifully (more beautifully than Evan Lysacek, quite honestly) and Johnny dealt with some very prominent homophobia and prejudice, and he dealt with it with a great deal of humanity and grace. He’s lovely. So I’m pleased to find out that even though he’s retiring, he’s already got a gig with NBC and he’s going to the Sochi Olympics as a correspondent! YAY!
After 17 years of figure skating, Johnny Weir is retiring. The 29-year-old athlete officially announced his retirement on the TODAY show Wednesday, Oct. 23, and shared his plans to work with NBC at the 2014 Sochi Olympics.
“It is surreal writing about my career as if it had happened to someone else and to actually write the words, ‘I am retiring from competitive figure skating,’ Weir said in a statement. “I have cried my way through writing this entire column not because I am sad, or that I’ll miss training or falling or being so nervous I thought my head would explode, or starving or the glory of victory or the agony of defeat, I cry because of the memories that have shaped my life.”
“At twenty-nine, it is odd to explain to the average Joe that I am retiring. While my retirement surely isn’t a shock to the skating world, I have been able to become a sort of face for my sport to people who rarely watch it, and I always quickly follow up the statement of ‘I’m retiring from competition’ with the truth that I will continue to skate and perform as long as my body will allow me and that I pass my presence in the competitive ranks on to some genius upstart, the youth that keeps the Olympics and sports alive,” he explained. “While I am not old, part of being a champion is knowing when your time is up.”
Weir has had many accomplishments throughout his career. He is the 2008 World bronze medalist, a two-time Grand Prix Final bronze medalist, the 2001 World Junior Champion and three-time U.S. national champion.
“Seventeen years ago, it’s hard to say exactly how, but I knew my life would have some magic, and I have figure skating to thank for that,” he said in his statement. “I wish for everyone in this world to have even one moment of finding their bliss and chasing after it at all costs and I pray that you are lucky enough to even have two of those moments, because they are fleeting and sometimes unappreciated.”
During his appearance on the TODAY show, Matt Lauer and Savannah Guthrie welcomed Weir to their news team and asked how he, as an openly gay man, felt about Russia’s anti-gay laws.
““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. 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.”.”
I’m including a photo of Johnny and his husband below. Johnny has had a long-time love affair with all things Russian – his last coach/trainer was a Russian woman, he’s married to a Russian-American and I think Johnny speaks Russian too. I think it’s awesome that NBC hired him for Olympic coverage and it feels like NBC’s got his back too. I hope nothing horrible goes down in Sochi for the gay athletes, the gay family members of athletes and the gay journalists and commentators traveling to Sochi. I feel like this is going to be a mess. Ugh.
Photos courtesy of WENN.