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Thoughts on Weir's Worlds Withdrawal

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As you've read, three-time United States national figure skating champion Johnny Weir has withdrawn from the upcoming world championships in Torino, Italy.  Here are some of my thoughts.

The "duh" factor

Weir has been on television or in every other type of media every time you turn around.  He's been interviewed by dozens of outlets, he's been photographed at numerous parties.  Normally when skaters do this much media post-Olympics, they are not planning to skate at the world championships (in part because there has been no time to train).  So, it was no surprise when Weir dropped out.

The uncool factor

I don't like that Weir stated in an earlier post-Olympics press conference that he was definitely going to worlds, and that it would be a statement to the world and the judges.  And he added some unnecessary shots at other athletes:

Weir ended his comments with a vow: he won't play coy about his attentions. If he intends to compete next season, he will say so definitively, and soon.

"I'm not going to pull a Sasha Cohen or Michelle Kwan and say, 'I'm coming back, I'm coming back, I'm coming back' and then not do it," he said. "I mean, thank God, Sasha finally did come back. But I'm not going to do that to people. I think it's rude, especially to my fans. If I'm going to skate, I'll tell them I'll skate."

Now, I was happy Weir said this at the time, because I don't like to be teased.  But Weir has now turned himself into a liar by backing out of worlds when he explicitly stated he would be there, which is way worse than being a tease.  Not cool.  I understand why he's withdrawn and I assume it's the best decision (no one should go to a world championship when they are unprepared or they don't want to be there), but maybe this is why skaters should not speak about others and only worry about themselves - everything you say comes back to bite you!

The understandable factor

Johnny Weir stated the following in his withdrawal announcement (via Entertainment Weekly):

"And while I am still embracing my Olympic memories and have the momentum to move forward, I have decided that it is not advantageous at this time for me to partake in the World Championships in Torino, Italy. After my sixth place finish in Vancouver, I believe that I must take time to reassess my strategies and goals. While I understand the importance of competition, I feel that a short break at this time would be personally beneficial to me. I know all may not share my stance, but I can assure everyone that I will be re-energized after I’ve had time to rework my technique. I want to be a better competitor and win medals for my country and I hope everyone can respect my decision to take this time off.

I would agree it's not advantageous for Weir to skate at worlds, as much as I would love to see him there (I think he actually would have had a shot at a medal).  He skated his best performances of the year at the Olympics.  He has been basking in the media's obsession over his being robbed of a medal (disclosure:  I think Weir was underscored but I thought Takahashi deserved his bronze).  It is unlikely Weir would skate as well at worlds as he did at the Olympics, and he has nothing to gain at this point...it's much better to have seen him skate amazing and assume political forces kept him down (which may very well have been the case with Weir) then to see him go on a month later and (potentially) not skate as well.

The "Is this it?" factor

Weir successfully rode a wave of "my skating is for the people, not the judges" momentum into the Olympics.  This is a smart talking point that Weir has been pushing for awhile, as is evident to anyone who saw his mother say essentially the same thing in a recent episode of his reality series "Be Good Johnny Weir."  I think it's very possible that Weir may be done with ISU competition, although I'm sure he won't turn down a good old retirement press conference when he makes that decision for real.  UPDATED:  In the U.S. Figure Skating version of Weir's announcement, they don't mention that Weir said he wants to continue winning medals.  In the one above, he does mention that.  Still...I am unsure that we will see Weir competing next season, unless he suddenly becomes much less in media demand than he is now.

Weir has stated that he plans on continuing to skate in shows, and I hope he does.  He's such a beautiful skater that it will be sad if audiences don't get a chance to continue seeing him even if he quits competing.

So, I am kind of sad that we won't see Weir at worlds, but good luck to him on his other endeavors.  And it is a great opportunity for Adam Rippon, who is viewed as the future of U.S. men's skating.  Rippon recently won the Four Continents Championship, and hopefully he can follow that up with a successful senior worlds debut.