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Are you fired up about U.S. figure skater Johnny Weir's sixth-place finish at the 2010 Winter Olympic Games? Some think that judges in Vancouver gave him a lower score in the men's figure skating finals (in which U.S. teammate Evan Lysacek won gold) than his artistic performance deserved. Just do a Google search for "Johnny Weir" and "underscored," and you'll see what we mean!
One reasonable answer for why Weir failed to reach the podium is that he was never going to medal, no matter how aesthetically pleasing his skating was. As the Vancouver Sun explained the day before his free skate, "Weir is a long shot for a medal because he does not have the repertoire of jumps so heavily rewarded in the sport's point system that has turned skaters into 'robots,' as Weir says, frantically counting and adding numbers in their heads as they cram one element after another into their programs."
But according to an article in the Christian Science Monitor, Weir's at cross-purposes with the skating establishment (which includes the Olympic judges who scored him), and the conflict runs deeper than the point-system issue. "Weir sees himself as a trailblazer, pushing the sport further into the realm of plumage and pomp," writes Stephen Kurczy. "He's strongly resisted efforts to make figure skating more masculine to garner a new breed of viewer."
Here's Weir on that subject, from an interview with Outsports.com.
"I don’t think turning figure skating into some kind of X-Games event will promote figure skating to the male population of especially North America, but also the world. This kind of talk has been going around for some time, about making the men more masculine and the women more feminine. But it’s not figure skating if you don’t have the freedom to express yourself and make something beautiful. That’s my goal every time I get new music and get new costumes: to tell a story and to put on a show. To butch up figure skating is a ridiculous idea....I love my glitter, I love my prettiness, I love getting my hair done before the events, I love putting on makeup because I’m going to be on TV. I know Elvis Stojko was a big proponent for butching up men’s skating, but I have a hard time taking suggestions from a man who rocked purple pajamas in the Olympic Games and World championships. In my opinion, anyone who wants to change the actual people who are doing the figure skating can suck it."
Undoubtedly, the Winter Olympic judges have read these comments. Weir is a media darling, always ready with a sound bite. But do his comments sway judges to score with a bias? On Access Hollywood, figure skating legend Dick Button offered his take:
"Look at his skating," he said. "He is a very conservative skater." In other words, Weir's program wasn't risky enough to merit a medal. Still, Button added, "I take my hat off to him."
Perhpas that's what Weir's legacy will be. He may not score high with official figure-skating judges, but many fans -- even Button -- admire him and root for him. Weir's purpose on the ice is "to make something beautiful," and in that regard, he was golden.
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Do you think that Johnny Weir was judged unfairly in the Winter Olympics? Chime in below!