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Weir, Johnny (b. 1984)  
 
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In the U.S. National Junior Championship in 2000 he was in the lead after the short skate—despite having fallen on the triple axel, which no one else had attempted—but "had a complete meltdown in the free program" and finished fifth.

The following year Weir rebounded, winning the Junior World Championship and finishing a respectable sixth on the Senior level in the United States. He advanced to fifth place in the U.S. National Championship in the 2001-2002 season.

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Weir was scheduled to begin the following season by competing in the Cup of Russia and was excited by the prospect. With a Russian choreographer, Yuri Sergiev, Weir anticipated a favorable reception to his skating style. In addition, he had developed an interest in the national culture and the language, in which he has become fluent.

Weir had designed his own costume, inspired by his Cirque du Soleil music. The American judges took exception to it, complaining that it was "a slap in the face" to the United States because it made Weir look like a Russian skater, and demanding that he change it. This was hardly a practical order on the eve of a competition, and Weir saw any change as an artistic mistake because the costume was as integral as the "choice of music . . . [to] create the mood and character of the program."

The teen-aged Weir felt overwhelmed by the pressures of being an athlete, a representative of his country, and a costume designer, and remaining true to his own artistic vision. Perplexed by the situation, he feigned illness and withdrew from the competition.

The following summer, a week after his eighteenth birthday, Weir confronted another potentially difficult situation, coming out to his mother. Although momentarily taken aback, Mrs. Weir quickly assured her son that his happiness was paramount to her, and she also said, "I want you to have someone in your life."

Shortly thereafter, Weir met a man whom he identifies only as "Alex," a pairs skater. The two began a romance of several years but one complicated by the fact that Weir was so often on the road and still, except to his immediate circle, in the closet. Stresses on the relationship eventually took their toll, and Alex broke it off.

In the 2002-2003 season, Weir suffered a knee injury in an early event and was unable to compete for the rest of the year.

To launch a come-back he began working with legendary coach Tatiana Tarasova, who normally charged tens of thousands of dollars for instruction but who waived the fees for Weir after another protégée, Sasha Cohen, recommended him and Weir did well in a try-out.

Weir had to go through a rigorous qualification process to earn a place in the national championship, and a judge from the skating federation warned him early on that "you're not getting any favors from us." He won the Sectional championship and went on to the U.S. Nationals, where he stood first after the short program. His marks for artistry had been distressingly inconsistent, ranging from a pathetic 4.9 to an impressive 5.8 out of 6, but his technical proficiency could not be denied. His strong marks won him the first of three national championships.

As the U.S. champion in 2005-2006, Weir earned a spot on the Olympic team. His competition in Turin got off to a good start, and he stood second after the short program, well ahead of his American arch-rival Evan Lysacek (whom, Weir felt, the national skating establishment had been promoting at his expense).

Congratulatory e-mails from fans poured in, but the exultation was short-lived. On the day of the long program Weir barely made it to the rink on time. Waiting at the Olympic Village bus stop with his coach and also the president of the Japanese Skating Federation, he grew increasingly nervous as no bus appeared. Eventually the trio prevailed upon a Village volunteer to drive them to the rink. Only later were they informed that the bus schedule had been changed.

After rushing through costuming and make-up, Weir took to the ice, starting well but then two-footing a jump and later deciding not to try for the second half of a triple-triple combination that he doubted he could land.

Subsequently he attempted to revise his program on the fly, trying to remember which elements and combinations he had made or missed and to decide what to reintroduce and when to do each to maintain the artistic integrity of the program—essentially an impossible task.

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