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Johnny Weir          

American Figure Skater; Three-Time U.S. National Champion; Two-Time Olympian and World Bronze Medalist

At the age of twenty-three, three-time U.S. Champion Johnny Weir is one of the superstars of figure skating. Fans all over the world love his fluid, elegant style. Johnny is looking forward to many more years of competing and performing, and he hopes to rise to the very top of his sport.

Late Jump, Natural Talent

Johnny didn't start skating until age 12. He was an active youngster, trying soccer, baseball, skiing and riding before finally settling on figure skating and dedicating himself to the sport.

It was while Johnny was still riding and showing horses that he first became interested in figure skating after watching it on television. He loved watching the sport and decided to try out the jumps himself, on roller skates in his family's basement.

Johnny's first venture onto the ice occurred one harsh winter when the corn field behind his house froze over. Johnny was thrilled to receive a second-hand pair of skates for Christmas, and to his parents' amusement, he used them to skate in between the frozen corn stalks! That convinced them to let him take group lessons at the University of Delaware.

At the end of his first lesson, Johnny was supposed to practice stroking with his group, but he decided to try jumping instead. He had gotten pretty good in his family's basement, but the slippery ice was a different matter! Nevertheless, Johnny's quicker-than-average progress soon became evident, and after only three lessons, his instructor approached his mother to let her know that her son showed promise and might benefit from private instruction.

The decision to choose between horseback riding and private skating lessons was a difficult one for Johnny, who had experienced much success on the equestrian circuit, but ultimately, he chose skating.

Rapid Progress

In his first year of skating, Johnny tested up to the juvenile division and made the Junior Olympics in both freestyle and pairs (with Jodi Rudden). Johnny and Jodi moved up to intermediate pairs, qualifying a second year for the Junior Olympics, but the following season, Johnny gave up pairs and began concentrating on his singles skills.

Skipping intermediate freestyle, Johnny moved up to the novice division and experienced immediate success -- a bronze medal at the 1998 U.S. Championships in Philadelphia.

Moving up to the junior division in 1999, Johnny finished fourth at the U.S. Championships in Salt Lake City and went on to compete at two Junior Grand Prix events the following season, finishing second and seventh in his series debut.

At the 2000 U.S. Championships in Cleveland, Johnny placed first in the short program, but struggled in the freeskate to finish fifth overall.

The following summer, Johnny set his sights on the senior freestyle test and passed it. His senior-level debut at the 2001 U.S. Championships in Boston was a successful one in which he placed sixth overall.

Internationally, Johnny still competed as a junior in 2000-2001, placing 6th and 2nd in his two Junior Grand Prix events.

Junior Champion

On March 1, 2001, Johnny won the World Junior Championship, capping off a wonderful year of skating.

The following season, Johnny began competing both nationally and internationally at the senior level, placing 10th at the 2001 Goodwill Games, seventh at Skate Canada, and fourth at Trophée Lalique.

At the 2002 U.S. Championships in Los Angeles, Johnny improved his placement from the previous year, finishing fourth in the short program and fifth overall. He was named as an alternate to the World Championship and Olympic teams that year, and went on to compete at the Four Continents Championships, another senior international event. Johnny narrowly missed the podium at that event, finishing fourth.

Lessons Learned

The 2002-2003 season was a difficult one for Johnny. After having to withdraw from both of his Grand Prix events due to illness, he looked forward to the 2003 U.S. Championships in Dallas as a chance to prove himself. He seemed to be on his way to doing just that with a stunning 2nd place finish in the short program, but a knee injury during his free skate forced him to withdraw from the event. Despite this disappointment, Johnny remained optimistic about his skating. He knew what he needed to do to make things happen in his career.

Bouncing Back

Johnny answered his critics in the 2003-2004 season. On January 10, 2004, he won his first U.S. National Championship in Atlanta with two amazing performances. He went on to place an impressive 5th at his first World Championships in Dortmund, Germany.

The 2004-2005 Grand Prix season was a spectacular one for Johnny, with two golds and one silver to his name. He followed his fall achievements by successfully defending his U.S. National title at the 2005 U.S. Championships in Portland, Oregon. He had high hopes for the World Championships in Moscow, Russia, but an untimely foot injury hampered those plans, and he finished 4th. Still, he's proud of the fact that he was able to fight through the pain.

Olympic Debut

An injury suffered during the free skate at Skate Canada marred the start of the 2005-2006 season. Johnny recovered nicely for the Cup of Russia, though, and won the bronze medal behind World Champions Evgeny Plushenko and Stephane Lambiel. At the 2006 U.S. Figure Skating Championships in St. Louis, Missouri, Johnny defended his national title once again and became the three-time United States champion. With his win, he also earned a spot on the U.S. Olympic Team.

Johnny was thrilled to compete at the Winter Olympics in Torino, Italy.  He placed second in the short program, behind the eventual gold medalist Evgeny Plushenko, but finished in fifth place overall after a disappointing free skate. Johnny became a media darling during the Games, described by many journalists as "the best quote at the Olympics."

Back spasms impeded Johnny's performance at the 2006 World Championships in Calgary, Canada. He fought through the competition with determination, landing quad toe loops in both the qualifying round and the free skate. He finished in seventh place.

A New Perspective

After what he called a "disappointing" season, which included a third place finish at the 2007 U.S. Championships and eighth place finish at the World Championships, Johnny decided he needed to refocus on his goals.

Hoping to advance his results heading toward the 2010 Olympics, he left longtime coach Priscilla Hill. Johnny moved from Delaware to Wayne, N.J., and teamed with Galina Zmievskaya, coach of Olympic gold medalists Victor Petrenko (1992) and Oksana Baiul (1994).

In his first competition with Zmievskaya, he helped the American team win the 2008 International Counter Match event in Japan. Johnny then re-established himself on the Grand Prix circuit by taking the gold medal at Cup of China and Cup of Russia before finishing fourth at the Grand Prix Final.

After winning the silver medal at the 2008 U.S. Championships in St. Paul, Minn., where he won the short program, Johnny won the bronze medal at the World Championships in Gothenburg, Sweden. It was the only medal won by a member of Team USA at the 2008 competition.

Bright Future

Only time will tell what the future holds for Johnny Weir. His long term goals include being an Olympic and World Champion, and someday being a coach. Johnny is a very intense and focused young man. He truly knows what he wants to do with his life, and knows what he has to do to achieve those goals.

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