Sunday, February 14, 2010

Weir says no matter what, no regrets

Despite the fierce competition, Johnny Weir says he's going for the gold.

"Last Olympics, I thought Plushekno was going to win," said Weir. "Going for second place will only get you second place. I am going for the gold."

Four years ago, in Italy, a younger, less confident Weir thought there was no way he could beat Russian powerhouse Evgeni Plushenko. That crisis in confidence set off a chain reaction of events.

With less than two hours to skate, a ready-to-go Weir found himself stranded at the athlete bus stop after the Italian organizers changed the bus schedule from every 10 minutes to every half hour without anyone from Weir's camp being aware. He spent twenty minutes searching for an alternate way to the arena, and eventually tracked down a car to take him. By then, shaken and thrown off his game, Weir described his mood as "I didn't feel my aura, I was black inside."

It showed.

He two-footed a triple Axel in the free skate, combined with a shaky triple Lutz and a tentative, lackluster performance saw the three-time national champion fall to fifth-place.

Weir assures, this time things are going to be different.

"Galina [Zmievskaya] has a laminated bus schedule," said Weir. "We're prepared, we are all set."

Despite past successes, Weir has been all but dismissed as a podium contender here in Vancouver. He's had trouble with his triple Axel the last two seasons, and he lacks the technical firepower -- especially combinations -- to accumulate points. But, Weir subscribes to the theory that on any given day -- especially at the Olympics -- you just don't know what is going to happen.

"I know I have a chance," said Weir. "It might not be the biggest chance, or the most expected chance, but I want to put everything on the table."

"Nobody knows how I feel," said Weir. "My main goal is to skate well and to do well. I have a 5'3 Ukrainian power-bullet [Galina] and she puts the iron curtain down when we are working."

In what is more than likely one of his last competitive skates, Weir really does have nothing lose. Whatever happens in Vancouver, he is preparing for the next chapter of his life, enrolling at the Fashion Institute of Technology [FIT] and studying his second love: fashion.

"I hope whatever is next, I will get recognized for that too," said Weir. "It's not my main goal to be famous and popular. It is to be good at what I do."

While he joked about pulling a "Plushenko" and coming back to compete at the Winter Games in Sochi, Weir was reflective about his great competitive career.

"I want to be remembered as someone who pushed the boundaries of the sport," said Weir. "I voiced my opinion and I have no shame about it."

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