It has been a crazy couple of months according to Johnny Weir.
After claiming the silver at 2008 Skate America Weir headed to Japan for his next assignment, NHK Trophy. Weir claimed another silver in Tokyo, earning a berth to the Grand Prix Final in South Korea.
He and coach Galina Zmievskaya remained in Japan to prepare for the final. By the time the event rolled around, Weir had spent four consecutive weeks in Asia. “It was good not having to traverse the earth a number of times in a month but I felt like I was living in a bubble,” he said.
“I think I could have trained a little bit better between NHK and the final but I was sick while I was in Japan. Then I got to the final and I wanted to put on the best show I could. I made a big mistake in the short but fought back in free skate.” Weir claimed bronze in Goyang City.
A week later, he returned to Korea to participate in a Christmas show with his good friend Yu-Na Kim.
“The show was a charity event – we were supporting a local children's fund,” he said. “There was no big monetary gain for me. I did it because Yu-Na asked me. She is a good friend and I just wanted to help her.
“While I was there I got terribly sick with a stomach virus and spent Christmas night in the hospital hooked up to an IV machine,” he said during a teleconference this afternoon.
But the past few weeks Weir said he has had his nose to the grindstone in preparation for nationals. “I have worked very hard for nationals and basically I am just trying to continue what I have set myself up for this season,” he said. “I am really excited to go to Cleveland next week.
Weir spoke openly about his thoughts on the new judging system. “It is hard to balance – it has become some kind of a national math contest,” he said. "The system is killing the sport as I see it. It is difficult for someone who is artistic to try and put the art before the technical. The free is supposed to be free, where you do what you feel and tell a story – that is impossible to do now.
“My programs this year are not the huge artistic images that I want to portray because I have to get the jumps elements done and the spins and the footwork. The art of figure skating is lost because of this new system.
“Like always I want to show people something beautiful so they can sit back and relax and enjoy what they are seeing,” Weir continued. “I was disappointed after my previous events – not because of mistakes but because I did not put the passion out on the ice. When you are thinking and being a human calculator on the ice it can be hard to put out the beautiful performances.”
When asked his thoughts on the results at the 2008 national championships, Weir was positive. “I considered myself a champion last year because of what I achieved. I earned my first world medal,” Weir said.
“A tie seems really ridiculous because it seems almost impossible – that made the situation at nationals bittersweet. I felt I had done enough to be the national champion but at the same time, I was really proud of what I did.”
Weir addressed the rivalries between himself and Evan Lysacek. “We have a rivalry but we also have one with anyone else who wants to take those two top spots,” Weir admitted. “For the past two seasons it has been the Evan and Johnny show.”
Brian Orser brought up the rivalry during a spring show in Korea, Weir said. “Last May I was in a show and Brian said ‘...they are crazy about this rivalry with you and Evan in America.’ I told him it is basically a rivalry built on what we said about each other. He said, ‘yeah but rivalries are good for the sport, they excite people.’ I said I understood that but someone always gets portrayed as the bad guy.”
The 24-year-old has been training very hard since the final to erase the mistakes he made in Korea and to perform better at nationals and Worlds. “Hopefully I am trained well enough that I can go out and show people something beautiful,” he said.
“It is a very exciting time to be a men’s figure skater in America because we have so many strong athletes. We have at least 10 who could be up there on the podium (next week). My favorite is Adam Rippon. But everyone is so talented. For skating fans the men’s event is the most exciting and you never know who is going to pull through and win.
“When we go to the World Championships in our own country we will not go down without a fight. I think that is a very exciting thing for the fans and for our skaters.”