The inevitable has happened. After saying piffle to the Olympics and going about my life just last week thinking "bah, I have no reason to watch that silly festival of athletics" I have been sucked in. I will own up to watching, every consecutive evening since Sunday, the primetime brouhaha of snowboarding and, most importantly, figure skating. Ugh. I admit it. I quite like figure skating. Of course, my love is fickle, and I'm wont to forget that I do actually enjoy it, but I really sort of do love this spandex and rhinestone binge every four years. When I was younger, I adored Kristi Yamaguchi. She was awesome. I recall drawing pictures of her with crayons and leaping about my parent's bedroom trying to do triple axles without crashing into the tv set. I don't remember really rooting for an athlete that hard in the last couple winter games, but this year I found myself accidentally latching onto the magnetic, ridiculous Johnny Weir.
Last week, I didn't care about Johnny Weir. A friend sent me this video clip awhile back of Weir skating to "Poker Face" and I kinda watched it, but was right in the middle of my "the damn Olympics are going to screw with my NBC comedy Thursday" crankiness and I was like "so what? A skater can skate. Big deal." Clearly I am an idiot because if I'd been awake like at all I would have known immediately that Weir is one of my favorite kinds of celebrities: the pseudo-androgyne, quip machine, sparkle and flair sort with the talent to justify all their other ludicrous behavior. Watching Johnny Weir skate is like seeing Velvet Goldmine on ice. The man is a diva in pink lacing and watching his exasperation and effeminate hand motions is fantastic. I'm not just saying that.
I know that last night's gold medalist Evan Lysacek has got the skills. He's good, really good. He delivered the performance and I have to step up and give him the mandatory Chicagoland homegrown pride. He deserves the gold and the accolades that go with it. But, ahem, that said....Johnny Weir's was like way more poetic. A little emo, yes, but poetic nonetheless. I don't know what Lysacek was thinking when he chose the music and got to his insane amounts of practicing, but I have this sense he doesn't feel it like Weir feels it. Watching Weir feels personal. You get the sense he might just be a natural, that he was born leaping and spinning. It's a show, but he's showing you something other than high sheen polish. He's got a performance art vibe wrapped up with his athletic persona, and I dig it.
Thus, I really feel like he was gypped both nights of the men's competition. His routines had an almost untraceable amount of flaws, yet he was knocked out of medal contention both times and actually placed behind Mr. Spinny Switzerland (whose spins are incredible, but who fell like three times). Granted, I know almost nothing about the technicalities of figure skate scoring. I also haven't seen IFC's reality show about Weir and his catty ways. Even so, I can't help but feel like maybe Johnny Weir was knocked down by his over-the-top personality and not wholly because of what Scott Hamilton kept referring to as 'the relative simplicity of the routine'. Execute it well, bring the crowd to their feet, and get a joke of a score? Please. Snubbed. Robbed. Is it too much to make the obvious suggestion and say that the Olympic figure skating judges (ahem, figure skating judges) are playing to a little homophobia? Are Weir's flamboyant nature and controversial mouth preventing him from getting the recognition he deserves?