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Weir, Johnny (b. 1984)  
 
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For his exhibition skate after the Nationals, Weir chose as his music "Poker Face" by Lady Gaga. He described his interpretation of it as "very suggestive," his costume as "slightly sado-masochistic [and] corseted," and his overall performance as "really excessive for a figure skating show on NBC during a Sunday afternoon."

The exhibition only fueled the already rampant speculation that Weir was gay and renewed criticism from some in the glbtq community for his failure to come out.

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It also drew the attention of Lady Gaga, who invited Weir to attend one of her concerts at Radio City Music Hall and to sit with her mother, an aficionada of figure skating.

In the 2009-2010 season Weir finished third in the U.S. National Championship and then looked forward to the Olympics in Vancouver.

Weir skated to a sixth-place finish, igniting controversy on two fronts. A revised system of scoring for technical merit had been adopted, and commented, Gia Kourlas of the New York Times, a "sad result of the new system is that techniques that score well don't necessarily encourage innovative choreography. . . . Instead of emphasizing technical ability, which strips the form of its soul, skating should take a page from American skater Johnny Weir[, who] skated beautifully. Skaters need more of the bravery that he shows," adding that "Mr. Weir is unusual, and not because of his flamboyance . . . but because he approaches skating from a choreographic sensibility."

Besides the debate about scoring—a perennial issue in figure skating—there was a flap over remarks by French-language Canadian sports commentators Alain Goldberg, a skating analyst, and Claude Mailhot, once a deputy minister of amateur sport in Quebec, that Weir should have to undergo a "femininity test." Goldberg also stated that Weir was "a very bad example" for young skaters.

Chris Rudge, the president of the Canadian Olympic Committee, decried the comments as reflective of the prejudices of a bygone era. "Figure skating has gone far beyond this," he declared—perhaps with somewhat excessive optimism—continuing, "Remember what they said about Toller Cranston [a gay Canadian skater whose heyday was in the 1970s] when he started? Nobody had ever seen anything like him, and they didn't know how to judge him."

Rudge added, "This kid [i.e., Weir] is doing his own thing, and he has the right to interpret movement however he wants"—an opinion apparently shared by the audience at the Olympic rink, who loudly booed the judges' low marks for Weir's performance.

At a later press conference to address the homophobic remarks by the sports commentators from Quebec, Weir vigorously opposed the contention that he set a poor example for children; nevertheless, he stated that he hoped that the broadcasters would not be fired over their comments because he respected their right to hold and express their opinions.

Weir did not explicitly come out at the press conference, saying only that he hoped to be an inspiration to young people who "dance to a different beat."

Subsequently, in an insightful article in the Toronto Star, Brent Ledger first addressed the question of the judging criteria—technical merit and artistry—writing, "Weir is what skating is all about. Not just an amazing athlete but also someone who can put on a performance and tell a story"—qualities not always sufficiently recognized "[i]n the conservative-ultra closeted world of major-league figure skating."

Ledger asserted that "it takes someone like Weir, with his mad mix of qualities, to bring out skating's essential style. Certain butch types say it's all about the jumps, but skating's true beauty lies in its ambivalence. Half art and half athletics, it goes where most sports fear to tread." [Ledger's reference to "certain butch types" may be an allusion to Canadian skater Elvis Stojko, who projects a hyper-masculine persona and performance syle.]

Ledger also addressed the question of Weir's as yet unacknowledged homosexuality, writing, "Weir has already struck enough flamboyant poses to let us know where he's coming from and I've no doubt he's already a role model for a lot of kids trying to go their own way in an increasingly conformist world."

Ledge went on to note that '[a]fter his performance in the free skate, [Weir] donned a crown of red roses. It was one of the silliest, gayest and bravest things I've ever seen anyone do."

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