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Q&A: Johnny Weir (cont.)

Posted: Thursday February 16, 2006 10:31AM; Updated: Thursday February 16, 2006 12:36PM
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Weir: I actually taught myself how to do all the jumps off the ice. I would stand in my living room and jump. I would go out on my roller skates and jump. I would go out in the yard and jump. I rotate the opposite way of most people. I would get things backwards a lot. The axel was the one I felt most comfortable doing. I got on the cornfield and I would do a waltz jump, which is like a half jump. Then I got onto the rink where the ice quality was so much better and I could do an axel in a week and I didn't think anything of it, because I didn't know how difficult it was; I just did it.

SI.com: I don't know if you've seen the medals this year, but they have a big hole in the middle, kind of like a bagel. Fashion statement or design flaw?


Weir: Fashion statement. I think there are so many traditions and so many stuffy things that the Olympics mean at times. Having a huge Olympic gold medal has been pushed to the forefront of the Olympic Games. But I think it may be time to change things a bit to something that's a little more out there, a little more modern.

SI.com: What do you remember about watching the Olympics on TV for the first time?

Weir: I remember seeing the Opening Ceremonies in 1992. Later that week I watched Kristi Yamaguchi win her Olympic gold medal. The most vivid one was 1994, when Oksana Baiul was the champion. I remember that so clearly.

SI.com: You said you were scared out of your mind at the U.S. Championships. Do you compete better when you're scared? What do you think about before you skate?

Weir: I don't really think about anything right before I skate. I like to get into a zone and block everything out, because when I think I tend to make mistakes. I was very nervous at Nationals because I was coming back as the two-time defending champion and there was a berth on the Olympic team on the line and there were a lot of things that built up and made me nervous. Generally I'm pretty cool. I don't get that nervous; I just have little butterflies. It's just sport.

SI.com: Tell us about the woman who got a tattoo of your autograph on her ankle.

Weir: Her name's Nancy Apple. I signed her ankle at a small event in Minnesota at the beginning of the year. She was joking that she was going to get it tattooed on and I thought maybe she was just drunk or something. Then she shows up at Nationals and it was actually tattooed on there. It was so surreal. I couldn't believe someone would actually do that for my signature. She said it wasn't because she was a huge fan of mine and it wasn't because I'm a good skater, but just because I was nice. I thought that was cool.

SI.com: You have a reputation for being very good to fans. Where did that come from?

Weir: It's something I enjoy doing. I love meeting people who are supportive of me and are supportive of my skating and my art form. If people are taking five minutes of their lives to write me or call me or do whatever just to support me or tell me how good something was or how much they're behind me, I think that's incredible. And that's not something that should be taken very lightly.

SI.com: Regarding the drug references you've made as skating analogies to certain programs and costumes, was that something you regret?

Weir: I stand behind everything I say. I said "cocaine" in an interview. Perhaps I shouldn't have done that. It made people angry. But I'm a young person and I'm around people who do drugs. I'm around the drug culture and the lingo, and it's part of my very real world. People who have problems with me saying "coke" are just kidding themselves. Walking down the street, probably 50 percent of the people who live on that street have tried it. I think it's more delusional to think drugs don't have a part in the world right now. Drugs are a problem. I don't condone them; I personally have never done drugs. I don't know what they're like and what they'd feel like. I know people who have used them.

SI.com: You've been with the same coach, Priscilla Hill, for a while. How has your relationship changed over the years?

Weir: I've grown up a lot. When we started, I was pre-pubescent. I was a little boy in this new world and I didn't really understand what was going on around me. Now I'm a lot more savvy. I'm at the pinnacle of my sport. She's gotten me there. But we're still the same people we were on that first day I walked into the rink. I don't think I'd be as successful as I've been if I hadn't had the same coach from the time I started until now.

SI.com: How did you bounce back after the Nationals in Dallas in 2003 [when he suffered knee pain and quit in the middle of his program]?

Weir: That event made me fight more than anything I've ever gone through. For the first time I realized there are people who are good in the sport and people who are bad. There are people who are always behind you and people who are behind you when you're at your best. Being in an ice rink as I was in my teens, I didn't get to see a lot of things other people go through. I was always in a rink with other kids who were going through the same things as me. I don't think that was a mistake; it was just the way things happened for me. A few weeks after the Dallas Nationals I went back into my rink, and someone who has a very high standing at that rink in the U.S. figure skating Hall of Fame pretended to fall into a wall when he saw me. He started laughing and doing all these things. It was someone I respected for so long, and after that I decided I needed to leave that rink, at the University of Delaware. It taught me so much about human kindness and cruelty. It made me fight back to win the title next year and the next three years, to never want people to have the chance to second-guess me. I don't take any crap from anyone.

SI.com: You've studied Kaballah. What appeals to you about it?

Weir: It appeals to me because it's not necessarily a religion; it's a spiritual belief system. It's not focused on God or Moses or The Light or Allah or anything like that. It focuses on you as a person and it helps you work on you as a person and helps you understand that everything you do has a consequence. Everything you say will come back to you tenfold. It's taught me to be very strong within myself and to realize that I am a good person. Even though I'm not always the best and I'm not always saying the nicest things about people, I can at least check it and know when I'm saying something of me using up air. I know Kaballah became a trendy thing to do after Madonna did it. But I will say I did it before Madonna started it, or went public with it anyway. It's just been something that's enriched my life and made me realize that every good and bad thing you do will come back to you in some form.

SI.com: Where do you eventually want to settle?

Weir: There are so many places in the world where I've been. I want a place in Manhattan, either in SoHo or Chelsea or the Meatpacking District. I'd love an apartment in the Back Bay part of Boston. And I really want an apartment in Center City, Moscow. There are so many things I want to do, but I think when I finish skating, the thing I'm going to focus on is settling down with someone and living for a little while and being normal.

SI.com: You want to have your own fashion line, though?

Weir: Yes. I want to have boutiques around the world. I have a real passion for fashion -- not just from a consumer's point of view but as an art form of self-expression.

SI.com: What do you think Johnny Weir will be like at 40?

Weir: I think I'll still be the same. I don't think anything in my life will jade me enough to change my mind about certain things. I'm not going to change. I already went through my puberty thing and went through my rebellious stage when I didn't want to listen to family or other authority figures. This is me. This is the final product. I'm going to be the same when I'm 40, when I'm 60, and until I die. I think the more I learn about life, the more I learn about human nature, the more I learn about myself. But as of now, I can't see myself changing much.