Johnny's Olympic Performance: Who do you think should have won?
Johnny ends his performance in the men’s 2010 Winter Olympics figure skating free program. Photo by Vincenzo Pinto/AFP/Getty Images.
When Johnny’s score came up after his flawless free skate (view here), the entire audience at Pacific Coliseum booed. Johnny himself had to urge the crowd to settle down. Gawker sums it up nicely: Johnny Weir skates routine of his life, gets screwed by judges. Despite landing all of his jumps, he ended up with an overall score of 238.87 and landed in sixth place, placing him behind Canada’s Patrick Chan (fifth) and Japan’s Daisuke Takahashi (bronze medal), both of whom flat-out fell during their programs. See full results of men’s figure skating here.
His routine was beautiful. Dramatic. Acrobatic. Genuine. Emotional. Even the commentators believe that Johnny was short-changed. One can’t help but wonder: what the heck went wrong?
No one can deny that Evan Lysacek gave a magnificent performance. Kudos to the judges for awarding him gold over Plushenko, whose routine, despite having several quads, was obviously uninspired, sloppy, and had sub-par transitions. This win for Lysacek shows that it takes more than landing a quad to land on top of the podium. “Evan deserves everything he does achieve,” Johnny says. “I have always been impressed by Evan’s work ethic.” But with the audience roaring with tolling bells and wild cheers throughout his own program had lifted his spirits, he said…as if the red-rose garland wasn’t enough proof of how much he is adored by those who aren’t put off by pink ribbons.
“The audience reaction was my gold medal tonight,” said a happy Johnny afterward. “As Lady Gaga would say, ‘I have all my role models out there.’ I may not be the most decorated person in the skating world, but judging by the audience reaction…they go on my journeys with me.”
A moving performance. Photo by Yuri Kadobnov/AFP/Getty Images.
As mentioned in a previous post, Johnny was not favored to medal in this competition, as made clear by the not-so-subtle coverage (or lack thereof) by NBC:
What made Weir’s performance even more interesting, however, was NBC’s blatant disdain for him, specifically from analysts Scott Hamilton and Sandra Bezic. With passive aggressive comments criticizing his work ethic (“He needs to focus on training”) and backhanded compliments about his form (“As controversial as he is…his technique is fine.”) they’re clearly offended by him. Whether it’s about his [personality] or something we don’t even know about, NBC obviously left Weir out of many of the promos and human interest stories featuring American figure skaters on purpose.
The new scoring system, implemented after the judging scandal during the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics, is suppose to allow for the most objective judging possible. Johnny’s technical score of 79.67 was 6.19 points higher than that of bronze medalist Daisuke Takahashi.
So how did Johnny lose his chance at bronze?
It seems that the judges didn’t like his routine much. He scored 77.10 points in the more subjective program components, while Takahashi scored 84.50 – 7.4 points higher. “I did a lot of leave-outs,” he admits, lowering the difficulty of his routine. However, does that means more emphasis is placed on a routine’s difficulty over clean execution? Remember, both Chan and Takahashi fell during their routines…but Evan did win the gold over Plushenko for having cleaner execution of lower-rated jumps. So who knows…
Johnny has said that this will most likely be his last competition in the Olympic games: “I am going to skate in the World Championships and then I have to decide how long I want to stay on vacation. In figure skating your body can only last for so long.” By the time the 2014 Winter Olympics (which will be held in Sochi, Russia…great for Johnny, with Russia being close to his heart) rolls around, Johnny will be 29, considered to be too old to compete on the elite level.
Despite ending up in sixth place, it’s clear that Johnny is still first place in many people’s hearts. An outpouring of love from around the world is hitting the web via his Facebook page and Twitter:
Dian Larkin: Johnny Weir is a great showman and a wonderful free spirit and also a disciplined athlete, a brilliant strategist and a strong and courageous man — it takes true strength to be that out there and his behavior is so supportive of so many. JOHNNY WEIR’S REACTION TO THAT LOW SCORE was AWESOME — his gentlemanly and highly sportsman-like reaction to that score will serve Johnny Weir well in the long run. Johnny be good! You’re the best and your performance was fabulous and beautiful.
KiraCNN: The jumps were there. Johnny weir shld be proud of his fantastic performance. The skating judging system shld be retooled. no question
Gloria Molnar: You deserved far better scores than you were given last night and the short program as well. It’s a shame people did not judge your on the merit of your abilities as a skater rather than your persona. You have an artistic ability that is breath taking and your body posture lends itself to the gracefulness of a beautiful swan. I pray your time will come to shine and be truly recognized as a brilliant skater.
Joy Neff: From the perspective of the commentators, it was obvious with both your long and short program that they were surprised at how you were underscored. But you DID what you came to DO. You skated beautifully with such heart and flair. You are an Olympic champion because you succeeded in putting down the performances that …were YOUR best in every way that truly mattered. You overcame the pressure, the critics, the distractions, and YOU did YOUR way. WITH STYLE:) And GLITTER!
Gold or no gold, it’s undeniable that there is something special about Johnny Weir. He competes with his heart and brings us to realize that we need to follow our dreams, no matter how difficult that can be.
Johnny’s determination, sportsmanship, and class teach us all a valuable lesson: never give up, as the spotlight isn’t about being first. It is about being true to yourself.
A proud Johnny with coaches Galina Zmievskaya and Viktor Petrenko. Photo by Saeed Khan/AFP/Getty Images.
Did the judges get it right? Did the best man win? Take our poll below and let us know your thoughts in the comment field below.
Be sure to view exclusive photos, behind-the-scenes video, and webisodes from BE GOOD JOHNNY WEIR.
From the rink to his wardrobe, read what Johnny has to say about being a fashion icon on ice. Get more on the good, the bad, and the ugly from the world of men’s figure skating at Full Frontal Fashion.
Own a piece of Johnny by getting his official warm up jacket.
The 2009-10 skating season isn’t over yet! Johnny is heading to the World Championships in Turin, Italy in March! Follow Johnny every step of the way by checking out his Twitter feed.