A Champion’s Heart

I have been trying very hard to properly organize my thoughts into writing a blog about Johnny Weir.  Every time I think I have it, I have trouble getting started.  Oh, I know what to say, but then somehow it just does not come out right.  Mind you, I have been to college and I have even studied writing; but somehow when I try to start on something I really want to talk about for some reason I just have trouble with it.  I have even had trouble coming up with a proper title for this blog.  I had an entire list of possibilities written down in a notebook, and none of them seemed right.  Consequently, this is probably not my best work, and my transitions (figure skating reference!) aren’t as good as they could be, but I really wanted to get it out finally.

There has been so much talk about the results of the Men’s figure skating competition in Vancouver, and deservedly so.  The men’s competition, whether it was the results or what was said afterward, has given fans plenty to talk about.  Whether it’s the comments made by Plushenko after the competition that made him look like a bad sport, or it’s whether the placings were correct or not, fans are still talking about it.  I will say that I personally believe the right person won, and Evan Lysacek deserved the Gold Medal.  He WON the Gold Medal, and I think its unfortunate President Putin of Russia and the Russian Skating Federation have tried to devalue his win the way they have.  They have not helped Plushenko much either.  Kudos to Evan Lysacek for handling the entire thing as well as he did and for refusing to respond in kind.

When it comes to Johnny Weir the talk often goes to his latest interview or sound bite.  I have to admit Johnny Weir gives his fans a lot to talk about off the ice.  Most of it is fun, some of it is outrageous, all of it is uniquely Johnny Weir.  Sometimes his mouth gets him in trouble, and deservedly so.  I’ll be honest; there was a point in 2006 where if Johnny had been standing in front of me I might well have smacked him myself.  I have at times wanted to hug him, tell him to shut up, tell him to keep right on talking, tell him everything would be okay, tell him we all love him, tell him he did a great job, tell him to ignore the idiots because he is better than they are…  Most of the time he is completely charming, and most people who meet Johnny in person come away with a different understanding of him than they had before they met him.  ‘He is really sweet’, ‘He is really nice’, ‘He is really cute’, ‘I really had a great time talking to him’, and so on.  We know this because people are usually quick to tell us so.  As much as his fans love Johnny, its unfortunate that all some people take the time to know about him IS those few sound bites and quick quotes.  Johnny Weir has a heart and a soul, and one of the reasons his fans love him so much is because that heart is worn right out on his sleeve.  There is a reason beyond his beautiful skating why Johnny is so popular with so many fans around the world.  He’s not phony, he’s not putting on airs, he’s not being pretentious, he’s not afraid of being goofy or outrageous, he’s just being Johnny, and what you see is what you get.  Maybe if more of us were as honest as Johnny is the world would be a little bit of a better place to live in.  In the midst of all the quotes and outrageousness is someone who can be hurt, and if you did not already know that it only takes a read of his journal from June 20, 2009 at http://www.figureskatersonline.com/johnnyweir/ to see it.  This was written by a person who was hurting and was not afraid to tell his fans he was hurting.  I can think of few other athletes who would open themselves up to their fans the way he did in his journal.  One of the few times someone I consider myself a fan of hit me in the gut like this was an interview Brian Boitano did in 1994 where he admitted he had cried on his father’s shoulder in Lillehammer after falling in the short program.  Johnny’s devotion to his fans has extended to his tweets from Vancouver, which he has used to thank his fans for their support several times.  And yes, I have been following Johnny’s tweets from Vancouver along with Apolo Ohno, and Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto.  As much as I love Johnny, I did give Apolo my own personal award for ‘Best Tweets from Vancouver’.  His have been great!

On Thursday Johnny tweeted ‘Why can’t we all just get along? Seriously? Love everyone like they deserve to be loved.  Truer words have seldom been spoken, and though I don’t know for certain, this may be partly a reaction to all the hullaballoo over the stupidity of the reporters who have criticized him recently.  I will NOT dignify these idiots by repeating what they insulted Johnny with, but personally I was furious, and I am far from the only one who was.   Other people, his fans, other athletes (witness Dorothy Hamill being visibly upset and almost in tears over it), seem to have been more upset over these reporters comments than Johnny was, outwardly at least.  However, I cannot help but wonder if deep down it really did bother him.  How could it not?

The programs Johnny skates to are also a topic for conversation amongst fans.  As fun as his program to Lady Gaga’s ‘Poker Face’ is to watch, and as much as I really wish we were going to get to see it in Vancouver, it’s certainly not the only exhibition program he has ever skated to.  It’s outrageous, it’s a tremendous amount of fun, there’s the knee slide and the hip swivels, and girls love the snug outfit; but he’s also skated programs to ‘Ave Maria’ and ‘Hymne a L’Amour’ and other pieces that are truly beautiful to watch.  Of course these programs are even more beautiful in person.  Like Boitano, most fans believe you don’t completely appreciate Johnny Weir’s skating unless you see him skate in person.    

There has also been a lot of talk about Johnny Weir’s performance in Vancouver and whether he deserved to be on the podium.  In my personal opinion-yes, he did deserve to be on the podium.  As far as I am concerned Johnny should have been no lower than bronze medal position.  There have been a lot of people, many with knowledge of figure skating, that believe he skated well enough to score higher and medal.  Sandra Bezic did say the announcers and the fans were reacting to the performance, and maybe his program was too simple, but the beauty and the performance is also part of it.  Scott Hamilton said, ‘When you talk the talk, you have to walk the walk, and he just skated that skate.’  Medal or not, Johnny Weir skated beautifully in Vancouver, and no one can ever take that away from him.  As far as I am concerned he skated one of the most beautiful long programs we have seen in recent memory.  His mother said she was very proud of her son, and she should be.  As a fan of Johnny’s, I am also proud of him-not only for his beautiful skate in Vancouver, but also for his heart, his beautiful soul, his devotion to his fans, his sense of humor, and his determination to be himself.      


http://www.nbcolympics.com/athletes/athlete=2368/index.html (Johnny’s Athlete Page at NBC)

http://www.figureskatersonline.com/johnnyweir/ (Johnny’s Page at Figure Skaters Online)

http://www.nbcolympics.com/search/video/results.htmx?q=video%20of%20johnny%20weir (Index of Video of Johnny available at NBC)

http://www.nbcolympics.com/figure-skating/resultsandschedules/event=FSM010000/phase=FSM010101/doc=expresults.html (Men’s Long Program Score Breakdown)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K0df6ipvVd0&feature=PlayList&p=F4240041D5232E52&index=37 (Ave Maria by Josh Groban)