GREENSBORO, N.C. — I caught up Sunday with Johnny Weir, the three-time U.S. figure skating champion who took some time off after the Olympics. He was in town to pick up the SKATING Magazine Readers Choice Award. The fact that he didn’t win an Olympic medal and is the most popular skater in the U.S. tells you something about how flamboyance sells in skating.
He has out a book, “Welcome to My World,” a TV series and a clothes line. He’s also a little bored watching skating on TV. That’s why he’s considering a comeback next season.
“This summer I’m going to get myself physically ready, mentally ready, and if I’m able to do it I’ll do it,” said Weir, wearing a black bolero jacket. “I won’t come back if I can’t be better than I was. I understand what my life is and what it means and everything what I’ve done so far. I’m not afraid of this. I’m not afraid of skating.”
He doesn’t think he’s too old.
“If you think about it, I didn’t start skating until I was 12,” he said. “Ryan Bradley started when he was 2 and he’s a year older than me. He’s been skating for about as long as I’ve been old. My body in that sense has more time left in it than most skaters.”
He said 2014 Sochi is there for the taking.
“I think a lot of the Grand Prix was pretty ridiculous with Patrick Chan winning so much and falling all over the place,” he said. “Last time I checked falling was a bad thing. I was really upset that watching some of the events.
“I don’t think it’s wide open. Everyone is so gifted and so talented but there’s so many things people are trying to pack into these programs and os many things they’re trying to do it takes away from what we love about the sport.”
I asked him if he’s missing an Olympic medal after two Games. He finished sixth in Turin and fifth in Vancouver.
“It’s definitely something that’s left off my resume,” he said. “World champion is left off my resume. But those are things I can’t control. You have to learn as a young skater but I learned that very clearly in Vancouver. Third place fell. Other skaters who beat me fell and I barely beat Nobunari Oda and he stopped to retie his skate.
“It’s pretty clearly I’m not politically liked or supported. So I don’t think medaling, while it’s something that pushes me and something I want, to win a medal can’t be the most important thing because I’m putting all this work and all this life’s journey in other people’s hands. You can’t do that as a human. Besides, I know how they feel about me.”