If you’ve watched Olympic figure skating anytime recently, you're likely very familiar with Johnny Weir and Tara Lipinski and their announcing dynamic. The two are often a chatty pair and are frequently goofy or irreverent to the point where third announcer Terry Gannon often plays the more serious counterbalance. During the streaming broadcasts for the 2022 games, we've heard them wax on about “marshmallow knees” in the sport or how some skaters make Weir feel like “mittens” – as in they warm him. But during Russian skater Kamila Valieva’s skate, there was definitely more of a somber tone, and at the end, they did not hold back their feelings.
Over the last couple of days, figure skating has been caught up in a brouhaha as results of a drug test taken by 15-year-old women’s figure skater Kamila Valieva came to light. She’d failed a drug test back in December after trimetazidine was found in her system, a drug that has been known to help with endurance. She's been ruled eligible to compete for the ROC – the team made up of Russian competitors who actually can’t compete under the Russian flag following the country's doping accusations– as the investigation into what happened is ongoing. She has blamed her grandfather’s medication for the positive test.
Meanwhile, Johnny Weir and Tara Lipinski made it clear where they stand on the matter in a series of viral tweets the other day. At the time Weir said he “can’t condone” the decision and Lipinski said she “strongly disagree[s]” with the decision made by the Olympics committee. At the top of the women’s figure skating program on Tuesday night, the two, along with co-host Terry Gannon, briefly addressed the controversy, but their comments at the end of Valieva’s performance really said it all.
Kamila Valieva was a triumphant skater during the team event earlier in the Olympics, landing quad jumps the likes of which many viewers had not seen. However, the failed drug test dropped before the individual skating events began and though she was allowed to skate, Weir was very short in his assessment, and you can hear the full exchange below:
Tara Lipinski and Johnny Weir weigh in on Kamila Valiyeva's short program. pic.twitter.com/LdjY4LQOvvFebruary 16, 2022
Prior to the events unfolding, they --a long with many other professionals -- have mostly been wowed by what the 15-year-old Russian skater could do. During the program, however, Lipinski did offer one more comment about how the skate shouldn’t have happened.
At this point, Weir and Lipinski are trusted NBC Olympics announcers . Honestly, they make it so easy that I almost feel I can follow the varying insider secrets of the sport, and I only keep up for two weeks once every four years. In this case, the IOC has said that if Kamila Valieva ends up in the Top 3 figure skaters at the conclusion of the longer program, no medals will ultimately be handed out in the event, which can be seen in the US with a Peacock Premium subscription or on NBC. No matter what happens I’m sure we’ll hear more from Johnny and Tara regarding the decision and its short and long-term ramifications for figure skating.
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