January 17, 2008,
After a disappointing run at the 2007 U.S. Figure Skating
Championships last January in Spokane, Wash., three-time
U.S. Champion Johnny Weir decided that it was time to
start fresh. So, in the off season, the reigning national
bronze medalist made some dramatic changes to his life.
"I have changed my coach, my choreographer, my home, my
home state I changed everything that I could about my
life," Weir explained with conviction. I want all of
those changes to be a good thing, and so far I can say
that I really am happy with how this has helped my
Weir started with a new support team that will put him on
the ice next week at the 2008 U.S. Figure Skating
Championships in Saint Paul, Minn. After an amicable
parting from his longtime coach and mentor Priscilla
Hill, Weir sought the guidance of Galina Zmievskaya, the
coach of 1992 Olympic Champion Viktor Petrenko.
Zmievskaya has changed everything about the way Weir
approaches skating, offering a fresh perspective to what
Weir admitted was "uninspired" skating last season.
"Last year's nationals was very rough for me," lamented
Weir. "I honestly can say now that I didn't deserve to
take a spot from another competitor. I was uninspired and
not prepared, and I didn't really want to compete. But it
was something that I had to do if I really wanted to have
continued success in the sport."
Weir credits Zmievskaya for helping him to move past that
period in his career, and believes that he is on the
right track for success.
"Galina keeps me on such a [tight] schedule that there
isn't much time to do anything but eat, sleep, clean, and
go skating," Weir explained rather e***dly. She has
helped me to rekindle the fire and has given me the will
In addition to a coaching change, Weir also moved from
his parent's home in Newark, Del., into his own apartment
outside of Manhattan in New Jersey.
"The first week that I lived alone, I slept with a
kitchen knife next to my bed," revealed Weir. "I was very
nervous to be alone in a strange city and so far away
from my family... I was a little bit homesick when I
moved up here."
But things eventually got better for the
"I knew I needed to change my coaches and my training
regime," admitted Weir. "I knew that it was necessary for
me to be a champion and fight for the next Olympic gold
medal. Living on my own away from my family has taught me
discipline, and it taught me that I had to do everything
for myself. "
Since his fourth place finish at the ISU Grand Prix Final
last month, Team Weir has restructured his training so
that he will peak at next week's competition.
"Since the Grand Prix Final, we had been coasting on the
level that I set for myself for that competition,"
explained Weir. "I didn't want to train, train, train, at
higher and higher levels and then peak at Christmas. So I
had to come down a bit before I started working towards
Weir was delighted to announce the addition of a
quadruple toe loop to his freeskate that has been absent
up to this point this season.
"This should make some people happy," Weir said,
giggling. "But I am planning on doing [the quad]. I have
landed it more than I have fell on it in my program
run-throughs, and I'm e***d to add that."
But Weir will not rest on his laurels should he land the
quadruple toe loop in Saint Paul. "I am training the quad
in my program on a daily basis," said the Pennsylvania
native. "And also we are training the quad Sal(chow), as
well as working on making the triple Lutz and triple flip
bigger, so that maybe next season we can start working on
quads for those jumps."
The 23-year-old hopes to draw on his previous experiences
from the national championships, both the good and the
bad, to lead him to another title.
"I already felt going into last year's competition that
there was no way that I was going to win," confessed the
former U.S. Champion. "And having won the three previous
years made that even more difficult. Now I'm very
confident and I think I'm better trained than I have been
in any other year going into the national championships.
I hope that comes through. I'm at a clean slate. Last
year, I was third, and this year I am going for my fourth
title. I am focusing on showing the audience, the judges,
and everyone in the skating community how hard I've
worked to never let a third place at a national
championships happen ever again."
Weir's biggest stumbling block to his fourth title will
be current U.S. Champion Evan Lysacek, with whom Weir has
developed the most intriguing rivalry in U.S. men's
skating in recent years.
"I think that there is a rivalry just because we both
compete for the United States and we both are competing
for the same title," said Weir. I think that it is
exciting for figure skating, especially U.S. Men's figure
skating, but that is where I see the rivalry ending. It
doesn't matter to me what he does in his life or on the
ice. [Lysacek] is just another person out there."
Competition begins on Sunday in Saint Paul, Minn. with
the novice short programs, and culminates on the
following Sunday with the men's freeskate. Check back
throughout the week for reports from the event on