I have always liked Johnny and Evan...as skaters and as people...and I always wished the best for both of them. It's too bad that the 'rivalry" ended up being somewhat nasty. We were lucky to have those two men earning 3 spots for us for yrs.
@orbitz: Re your comment: "It's possible ... his competitors' attitudes toward Evan changed and not vice versa..." Sure, and it's also possible that Evan was once jealous of his competitors prior to his success, and possibly he channeled some of those emotions into doing whatever it took to improve and to reach the top of the podium. My opinion re your comment is that it's vice versa, as well as a mixture of circumstances and emotions all around -- i.e., Evan's demeanor changed to one of intensity, and he began to focus exclusively and aggressively on winning -- obviously nothing wrong with that, as it did work for him. Perhaps his competitors noticed the change, and may have felt that Evan was holding his nose in the air as being above everyone else, and obviously jealousy could also be a factor in his competitors' perceptions. Johnny has already admitted that he is jealous of Evan's Olympic and World championship success. I don't get the impression though that Johnny is jealous of Evan as a person.
For me, I did not like Evan/ his team's insistence on making comments circa 2007-2008 related to "macho," and "masculinity," not being synonymous with "sequins" on costumes. And, Evan's famous comment prior to 2007 Nationals that if he were to become U.S. National champion, he would be sure to represent in a respectful manner. This during the same period that Johnny, as the reigning U.S. National Champion, was fielding queries about the Blackbook photos, and Mark Lund's over-the-top rant.
@kwanette, thanks for your thoughts and reminisces. Evan's note is a great memento to have. I think Evan's change in attitude (i.e., more aggressiveness and intensity) coincided with Frank Carroll's exclusive coaching takeover, as Evan in 2005, was also receiving coaching from Ken Congemi (who was formerly affiliated with Frank Carroll). In any case, I am of the opinion that the rivalry between Evan and Johnny may have remained respectful if not for all the media mayhem and malarkey (e.g., that cringeworthy fake jokey intrusive interview with Andrea Joyce instigating as she sat between Evan and Johnny, i.e. trying to get them to say something nasty about each other), as well as the "macho" stance that was decided on by Evan's team, not to mention the obvious favoritism by the U.S. fed for one over the other.
Last edited by aftershocks; 03-14-2011 at 05:31 AM.
You should never write words with numbers. Unless you're seven. Or your name is Prince. - "Weird Al" Yankovic, "Word Crimes"
Not to mention that I'm having a hard time picturing Frank Carroll sitting down with Evan and going, "OK, you're going to be Clint Eastwood on ice so you can kick Johnny Weir to the curb."
"Once you've skated together long enough, and you're really good friends, you can close your eyes, put your hand out and she's right there." Joe Dolkiewicz, 2011 US Novice Pairs Bronze Medalist
I agree that becoming intense and aggressive as a competitor is not a bad thing, kwanette, particularly if it works for someone. Everybody is not the same. Lots of stuff goes on behind the scenes that we as fans are not aware of, but I'm basing my observations on having followed these guys from the beginning of their senior careers (and I recall Junior Nats when Johnny was first in the sp, but lost it in the lp, and Evan came back from 5th in sp to win it all). I don't fault Evan for being aggressive and determined to win. What sets him apart is his enthusiasm and his willingness to listen to his coach, work hard, and do whatever he's told in order to improve, and ultimately to win. To a great degree, Evan is likely favored by U.S. fed, not only for his talent but because of his "straight-arrow" qualities and his willingness to conform. I think he did change his persona, but maybe that's what he needed to do to maintain his focus. I think he learned a great deal from Frank that has benefited him personally and as a skater. But just as I have always said about Johnny, nobody's perfect. Did you have the opportunity to meet Evan at anytime after 2005?kwanette;3109541]Thanks, aftershocks.I don't know that if it was Evan's team or US Figure Skating that came up with the "macho" stance. I don't think that becoming more aggressive or intense is necessarily a bad thing. Evan himself has spoken about his 4th place finish in Torino and how he watched the medal ceremony and set the goal of making the podium in 2010.He worked, he listened and each yr he added point getters to his programs.He worked his butt off, with quite a few ups and downs between 06-10..and put it all together on the night that it counted.
I'm not sure whether it was U.S. figure skating that dreamed up the "macho" stance, or gave some advice, but there's no way Evan made those comments without Frank Carroll condoning -- and, there is nothing wrong with that either. I just disagree with the stance they decided to take. [Also, the way the media kept putting the camera on Tanith--yes I know she's camera-worthy--during 2007 Nats and emphasizing that she was Evan's girlfriend, was laughable. And yes, I know they broke up quite awhile ago].
IMHO, Frank Carroll grew up in figure skating during a time when perhaps for male skaters it was traditionally important to emphasize "masculinity" in one's skating. So, as a strategy, I think Frank sincerely believes it was entirely appropriate for Evan to comment on the importance of projecting masculinity in costumes and performance on the ice.
Johnny got where he is today on his hard work and his extraordinary talent. Yes, he has received support, as a federation is made up of individual people, and not everyone dislikes or is against Johnny. But he had to comeback the hard way from the disaster in 2003, and he was told to his face as a 19-year-old that he would "never be able to work himself back," and that he was "not going to get any favors." I do see something wrong with someone from a federation saying that to any young skater. In Johnny's case, he used it as further motivation. If he hadn't, his career would have been over before it began (at Nats 2004).
If not for his natural and extraordinary gifts as a skater, Johnny would not have won 3 national titles (a 4th title did not happen in 2008, because Evan was preferred -- sure some will always say it's b/c Johnny didn't add a double jump to a combination --). IMHO, Johnny clearly skated better. Evan skated a sloppy long program, which if Johnny had done, he would likely have dropped to 4th place and been off the 2008 World team, or at the least dropped to 3rd. Evan was dealing with an injury and he had to pull out of Worlds that year, and Johnny ironically ended up being the only U.S. skater to medal. Johnny has also been his own worst enemy on occasion. Nobody's perfect.
Evan as Clint Eastwood on ice -- not a bad analogy.* The difference is: Clint's a lot older and packs a whole lot more authenticity and true-to-himself character to what he uniquely does as an actor, director, filmmaker. LOL, I remember Evan at a press conference referencing Tiger Woods as a competitive role model -- yes, that was back in the day, before Tiger's self-made troubles. Nobody's perfect.
* (Maybe gives Evan some inspiration for a future program -- I'd love to see Ryan B skating to Clint Eastwood theme music).
Last edited by aftershocks; 03-15-2011 at 12:51 AM.
As for Frank saying let's be Clint Eastwood and kick Johnny to the curb, I can totally see him saying something along those lines. That sentiment is an old standby for coaches. I think development of killer instinct was what gave Evan his edge. He did seem to change his personality at least in competition. I remember after the Olys Evan was on the Ellen D show and he talked about always sitting in "his seat" at events and that if another skater was in "his seat" he would glare at them and they'd usually move. I thought it was funny. I have a feeling he wasn't referring to Johnny in that though. Fat chance that he'd move.
Well, the USFS probably did ultimately favor Evan over Johnny, beginning, I think, with the 2006-07 season. They cultivated different images. Evan - perhaps with Frank's guidance - cultivated the responsible hardworking image, and Johnny was the funloving, zany Russophile with a penchant for Louis Vuitton bags and a stated distaste for being a team player. Evan always colored inside the lines, and Johnny.. not so much. Evan was the ant and Johnny the grasshopper. And USFS has always favored the ant over the grasshopper, and for good reason, the ants have brought in an awful lot of hardware over the years. (Don't get me wrong; no doubt Johnny worked hard too, but that wasn't the image that he cultivated.)
"Marge, if you're going to get mad at me every time I do something stupid, then I guess I'm just going to have to stop doing stupid things!" - Homer Simpson in the Mr. Plow episode
Keep in mind that both Johnny and Evan, and many skaters toured together with COI before its collapse. I never heard of anybody having any problems with Johnny, nor were there any reports of him creating drama during any COI tour. I also doubt that any skaters would have had any serious problems with Johnny joining SOI, except that he was never asked, and Evan was asked. Then, because Johnny’s fans were wondering why he hadn’t been asked, someone leaked that the reason was because Johnny wasn’t “family-friendly.” Whether this was actually stated to Johnny’s camp by a sponsor, or by someone associated with SOI, we’ll probably never discover at this point due to the escalation of the furor because of many fans’ desire to see Johnny on tour in the U.S. -- and SOI had suddenly become the only major skating tour in the U.S. When two separate skating tours existed, I don’t recall anyone wondering why Johnny hadn’t been asked to join SOI.
Of course, SOI is a very different tour than COI was, in terms of how skaters are chosen, and in how the programs and the tour itself, is put together. I think too much has been erroneously made of Johnny not being able to fit in with skaters he has known, competed with, and some he has been friends with for years. The entire situation was blown out of proportion. The notion that Johnny is not a “team player” or not “family-friendly” being the reasoning behind the apparent exclusion by SOI, is to me, ridiculous. We’ll never know the real reasoning, and perhaps there was no real reasoning. He was simply never asked for whatever reason, and then a reason needed to be fabricated and then leaked because some fans were in an uproar.
I agree that it's ridiculous to dwell on the idea that Johnny was not asked to join SOI because he's not "family friendly." I'm all for gay rights, and I'm all for freedom of expression (and I'm a fan of Johnny), but there was never any proof that either of these was the issue. It's quite possible that whoever chose the SOI skaters simply didn't like Johnny's skating. There are videos going around of Johnny's recent fan meeting in Russia. In them, he describes putting together his own skating special, and he says he's going to choose only his favorite skaters. That's his right. However, I do think SOI should have thought carefully about inviting Johnny. He could have brought in a new contingent of fans who normally would not go to a skating show.
Let me also add that if there IS concern about Johnny and tour drama, why is that? As far as I've heard, he's professional and quiet when he's doing shows.
I think Johnny's fans really did him a huge disservice with all that hoopla. I think it lessened Johnny's chances to join any US tours.
In my spare time, I like to interview figure skating legends.
In his Russian interview Johnny said that Evan has a rider in his contract that he won't perform in any show that Johnny is in. Was that a joke?! I had a really hard time hearing all that was said in those interviews on my computer. If it wasn't a joke he's totally toast for US tours.
There is no way on earth that Johnny knows what's in Evan's contracts with anyone. All private commercial contracts are confidential and there is simply no way Johnny can know anything about the contract. But since it might be controversial and get him another 15 seconds on air by being look-at-me-i'm-so-outre then so be it.
Your mutual avoidance theory, particularly at this point, Justathoughtabl, certainly seems apt. I've heard some behind-the-scenes stuff from reliable sources that is pretty revealing. Apparently around 2009, Johnny wished to turn the other cheek and smooth things over between them and that's why he told the media at 2009 Worlds that he and Evan "had buried the hatchet," and that as he wasn't competing himself, he was rooting for Evan to win Worlds. Whatever mutual avoidance that exists between them, was probably triggered or exacerbated by the media's intrusive insistence upon linking them into some kind of over-the-top rivalry (e.g., my earlier reference to that Andrea Joyce cringeworthy interview instigation).
And, with the sniping between Evan and Johnny that occurred re the SOI furor, and the fact Evan has risen in stature as the Olympic champion -- it seems to me that Evan is even more eager to distance himself, and that they are both weary of being asked about each other. Unfortunately, they will always be linked and so the contretemps between them is sad. I think underneath his own seeming dismissiveness of Evan, that Johnny was hurt by Evan's comments re the SOI furor: "[SOI] only hires the best of the best ..."
In that skating magazine article circa 2005 that kwanette and I referred to earlier, Johnny prophetically said, "No matter what happens as Evan and I compete through the years, I'll never forget his kindness..." re Evan's words of encouragement to Johnny after the 2003 Nats lp. Guess a lot of things, including Evan's more recent harsher words have made Johnny forget, since Johnny has responded with harsh words of his own.
Last edited by aftershocks; 03-15-2011 at 06:14 PM.