UPDATE: Johnny Weir, skater 'first and foremost,' puts off Olympic comeback

Says he won't compete in 2011-12

Johnny Weir figure skater

Fashion stylist Rachael Zoe dresses Johnny Weir for an appearance on her Bravo reality show ``The Rachael Zoe Project.'' (Kelsey McNeal / Bravo Network / December 16, 2013)

Anyone who follows Johnny Weir on Twitter has to wonder if the two-time Olympic figure skater ever knows where is going next.

And that's a big reason why Weir announced Tuesday on his web site -- after tweeting an advisory -- that he will not compete next season.

Weir said he has too many commitments outside the sport to devote enough time to training and that he hopes to return to competition in 2012-13.

He is always on a plane, in a car, heading to a spa, a TV studio, a photo shoot, a fashion show, skating, talking, posing, promoting himself as a dress designer, a skater, an icon to not only the gay community but anyone with an appreciation for style, outspokenness, exaggeration, a clever wit and the ability to poke fun at himself.

(I'm breathless just from writing that sentence.)

"Everyone says you get 15 minutes of fame after your big moment, but a year-plus after the Olympics I'm in the news almost day,'' Weir said, with just a touch of hyperbole, when I caught up with him recently on the phone.

Among recent news was Weir's being named Grand Marshal of the June 12 LA PRIDE parade.

"I'm working very hard to not be a flash-in-the-pan celebrity,'' he said.  "People know my name because I was in the Olympics.  Now every project I do has to be at an Olympic level.''

Such a project might be a return to competitive figure skating, with the aim of regaining a level good enough to reach a third Olympics -- especially because the next Winter Games are in Russia,  a country whose culture he loves.

Weir told me he was still unsure about a comeback, either next season or later.

"I've been trying to find out what hoops the federation will want me to jump through,'' he said.  "I shouldn't be treated differently from anyone else.  The question is whether I want to jump through the hoops.''

Weir, who turns 27 on July 2,  was able to maintain a high level for seven seasons.  He won U.S. titles from 2004 through 2006, then finished third twice and second once in the next four years.  He was 5th in the 2006 Olympics and 6th in 2010.

 He won bronze at the 2008 World Championships, becoming the only U.S. man other than Evan Lysacek to get a world medal since 2003.  (Lysacek, the 2010 Olympic champion, won the 2009 world title and two other world medals during those years.)

The poor U.S. men's finishes at this year's worlds (9, 11, 13), including the lowest  ever for the top skater, left Weir thinking he could regain high standing on the national scene.

"I can see a place where I fit in well,'' he said.  "My ace in the hole is that even if I am a little older, I didn't start skating until age 12, so my skating body isn't older than the other men.''

I asked Weir whether he drew confidence from watching Russia's Evgeny Plushenko come back at age 27 and finish second in the 2010 Olympics after a three-year hiatus from competition.

"Evgeny is a very different person than me,'' Weir said.  "He will fight like a dog for medals, which is also something I admired in Evan.

"I was more about performance than points.  I'm more artist-athlete than athlete-artist.  I would want to come back and make people cheer and cry.    I missed my chance at a medal in 2006; that was my time to shine.  Maybe if I came back without that pressure, I could just enjoy the journey.''

Despite the attention-getting persona he has developed outside the rink, Weir has no doubt about the essence of his being.  After all, on his Twitter profile, ``2-Time Olympic Figure Skater'' precedes ``Movie Star, TV Star, Recording Artist, Author, Designer.''

"I've had my little foray into pop culture, and I doubt it can last forever,'' he said.  "I'm a figure skater, first and foremost.''

The problem is a return to full-time training and competing might involve financial sacrifice.  Gone are the days when top U.S. skaters received six-figure annual contracts from the federation, partly to assure they would compete in pro-am events that no longer exist.  So Weir would be losing time to develop his other pursuits should he focus nearly 100 percent on skating.

"Evgeny has been pushing me to come back,'' Weir said.  "But I don't want to be 30 and wonder, 'What's next?'''

Weir insists he would not turn an attempt to make a third Olympics into a publicity stunt to prolong -- or refresh -- his visibility.

"I couldn't bank on Sochi bringing me publicity,'' he said.  "I would come back for the sheer joy of competing and performing.''

It often was maddening to watch Weir let his skating be overwhelmed by his shtick, forgetting that it is sport as well as (pop) art, with the result that his results weren't as good.

Yet the truth is Weir always was entertaining to be around, even when his act grew a bit tedious. The world of figure skating is a more joyous place with Johnny Weir on the scene -- and making one.

twitter@olyphil

For older Globetrotting entries, click here:



Featured Stories

CTnow is using Facebook comments on stories. To comment on ctnow.com articles, sign into Facebook and enter your comment in the field below. Comments will appear in your Facebook News Feed unless you choose otherwise. To report spam or abuse, click the X next to the comment. For guidelines on commenting, click here.