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Weir hopes his skating will be the last word

February 16, 2010 |  1:35 pm

It figured something Johnny Weir said would make the Olympic News Service’s "Quotes of the Day’’ for two days running.

One, a lubricious discussion of athletes' backsides and underwear, isn’t fit for a family blog.

WeirFur1The other, about whether he agreed with Canada’s Patrick Chan that skaters practicing the quad were trying to intimidate other skaters, was classic – and appropriate for general consumption – Weir.

"I’m not intimidated by anything, except maybe PETA standing outside with a bucket of blood,’’ Weir said.

 The reference was to the animal rights group sending Weir hate mail because he had been using fox fur on his free skate costume.

He removed the fur after last month’s U.S. Championships to avoid having it be a distraction at his second Olympics, where the men’s competition is to open with the short program Tuesday.

Yet his bringing it up without prompting only emphasized the idea that Weir is spending more time on distractions than he is on his skating.

That perception irritates the three-time U.S. champion, even if he understands why people would feel that way about an athlete who considers the outrageous normal, as evidenced in the episodes of his Sundance Channel reality show, "Be Good Johnny Weir.’’

"There is a lot of talk about things overshadowing my skating, and I have no problem with people talking about that,’’ Weir said.  "Nobody knows how I feel, and I don’t feel that anything overpowers my skating.

"My goal is to skate well and compete well.  That’s something that is not often talked about because there are so many other crazy things that I do and say that can be talked about, especially when I don’t skate well.

"For me, this costume controversy was silly.  It didn’t change my opinion about anything.  It didn’t change my life.  It just added something else people were talking about while I was in my rink, training hard, preparing for the Olympic Games.’’

Weir said he has a haven from the distractions at the rink in New Jersey, where his stern coach, Galina Zmievskaya of Ukraine, draws what he called an "iron curtain’’ between the skater and the outside world.

"Everything that I’m feeling or I’m anxious about gets left outside, and we work,’’ Weir said.  "That’s something I wish reporters talked more about, how hard I do work.

"Yes, I have other interests.  I have other stuff going on.  But I’m an Olympian none the less.  I work hard enough, and I’m good enough, and that is something very underappreciated about me.’’

Weir was second to Evgeny Plushenko after the short program at the 2006 Olympics, only to have an underwhelming free skate and finishing fifth.

Since then, the most compelling thing about Weir has been his thoroughly entertaining personality rather than his skating.

No one should doubt how hard he does work at his skating.

But sometimes it seems he spends too much energy being a piece of work.

-- Philip Hersh reporting from Vancouver, Canada

Photo: The fur won't fly. Johnny Weir, with his bronze medal from the U.S. Championships, has chosen to remove it from his free skate costume at the Olympics. Credit: Elaine Thompson / Associated Press

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