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Weir Roundup: Olympic Fever!

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Johnny gets competitive. Image courtesy of NBC.

With Johnny performing his short program tomorrow and his free skate on Thursday, Tom Hammond, Scott Hamilton and Sandra Bezic discuss the strength of the U.S. men’s figure skaters. It’s a loaded competition field for the men, where about nine skaters are believed to be contenders for the three top slots. Johnny is slated to perform in the 5th group, the 25th slot in 30. Don’t miss his performance; check out local listings here.

Reigning Olympic champion and this year’s favorite to win Evgeni Plushenko of Russia raises questions of bias in figure skating judging.

Also, with Plushenko’s return from retirement (he left the sport after his gold win in Torino, was out of the sport for three years, then came back this season just to compete in the Olympics once again), other male figure skaters ask themselves: to quad or not to quad? While landing a quad can mean big points, not landing it can bring a bigger penalty than it’s worth. Execution of the quad jump embodies not only high risk, but how the sport’s new judging system, according to some critics, has favored technicality over artistry and expression. Some say that Plushenko scored too highly at European competitions this season, despite shortcomings in his transitions (steps linking elements together), that choreography is non-existent in his routines and, essentially, he is a glorified jumper who skates in circles.

U.S. National champion Jeremy Abbott plans to have two quads in his free skate, but Evan Lysacek just took out the quad out from his program, citing he didn’t want to sustain yet another injury from practicing this move: “For me it’s a risk. Saying ‘is this going to be the one that breaks my foot again?’ I didn’t want that to be my Olympic experience.” Having sustained many injuries from the quad himself (see video below), Johnny agrees with Evan: “It’s a beautiful, wonderful thing when you can do it, but I’d rather show beautiful character and style and not have a struggle on an element that isn’t 100 percent.”

Tanith Belbin, one half of the US pairs ice dancers (with Benjamin Agosto) and 2006 silver medalist at the Olympics games in Torino, gives funny anecdotes about longtime friend Johnny and her experience so far in rooming with him at the Olympic Village. With only one single and a one double-room unit left for the team, bunking up with Johnny became the obvious choice over doing so with ex-boyfriend (and Johnny’s longtime rival) Evan Lysacek. Read more at The Philadelphia Inquirer. The New York Times also covers this perfect pairing of roommates.

Erica Boeke of The Huffington Post has a raging case of Olympic fever and (insert giddy giggling here!) comes forward with her favorite quotes from her latest “Mancrush.” Erica and Olympic skier and entrepreneur Melissa Roark interview their new BFF on the ice for The GameOn Podcast. Take a listen here.

Johnny speaks to the Wall Street Journal about what he’s been listening to on his iPod at the Olympic Games:

Frank DeFord of HBO Real Sports interviews Johnny and proves that there’s more to our favorite fashion-ice-ista than meets the eye. View more clips via Deadspin and get a more detail synopsis and schedule information via HBO.

The Seattle Times covers Johnny’s frame of mind one two days away from performing his short program and how he feels about moving in to the final months of his competitive skating career:

“There’s a lot of talk about things overshadowing my skating,” he said. “And I’m fine with that. But I don’t feel that anything overpowers my skating. My main goal is to skate well and compete well. And that’s something that’s often not talked about because there are so many other crazy things that I do and say that can be talked about instead, especially when I don’t skate well.

“But I want to be remembered as somebody who pushed the boundaries of my sport. I want people to remember that I was a great talent on the ice and that I did everything a little bit different than everybody else. But at the same time, I want people to remember that I was able to speak my mind. I was able to voice my opinions about things and had no problems with that. In my own way, I’ve brought a lot of people into figure skating. Maybe it’s not the way that my federation or most mainstream people would want it to be, but that’s how I’ve done it. And I hope that more young athletes, not just figure skaters, but especially figure skaters, will be able to be themselves, or say what they want and never be afraid of anything, or anyone. I hope that’s my mark.”

Be sure to view exclusive photos, behind-the-scenes video, and webisodes from BE GOOD JOHNNY WEIR.

Own a piece of Johnny by getting his official warm up jacket.

Follow Johnny as he prepares for his short and free skate program by checking out his Twitter feed.