Weir: 'Audience reaction was my gold medal'

February, 19, 2010

VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- Johnny Weir's post-routine comments were a little under his usual lofty standard after the men's free skate Thursday, though he did use the word "wafting" at one point. And he also answered a food-related question by saying, "I hope I'm a good wine. I may not be as reliable as steak or as easy as vegetables, but I'll mess you up if you have enough of me. I'm definitely a nice, aged wine."

Which just goes to show you that even on an off night, Johnny is still a gold-medal talker.

In 2006, Weir entered the long program in second place, only to self-destruct with a performance that dropped him to fifth and left him feeling black inside. He was sixth Tuesday, but given where he was nearly a year ago when he briefly considered retiring from the sport, he felt great about his performance. So did the crowd, which cheered him enthusiastically and booed the judges lustily when he received what they considered too low a score (238.87).

"I'm very happy I came back and competed," Weir said. "I knew that things would be difficult here and the result would be something I couldn't control as much as in the past, so my goal was to skate as well as I could. I tried to do everything in my power, and the audience reaction was my gold medal tonight.

"There were some small technicalities I could have done better on, but I made myself proud. I came back and skated for all the right reasons and it paid off. Maybe not with a medal, but it was a damn good performance."

Weir said he prepared for the short program by cleaning his room with Pledge. Not so Thursday for the long program.

"I didn't Pledge today, but I definitely tidied up. I watched 'Real Housewives of Atlanta,'" he said. "Me and my mother and coach have been going to the Four Seasons for lunch every day. And the rest of the day, I just tried to relax as much as I could. Literally, I was crying all day today for no reason, just crying because I had so much energy and so much nerves and I couldn't get it out, so it just started leaking out of my eyes."

Asked what he would do to celebrate his performance, Weir said, "With a giant can of Pledge, I may even spring for Windex as well."

While awaiting his scores in the Kiss and Cry Zone, Weir wore a crown of roses so spectacular it was only missing burning candles. "The roses are from my Japanese friend, and after every competition she makes me a crown of roses. So I suppose this is my medal for tonight."

Jeremy Abbott, meanwhile, struggled early again in his routine, but recovered to advance from 15th to ninth.

"I wanted to show so badly that Tuesday wasn't a fluke, that I'm a much better skater than that,'' he said. "I showed some brilliance and some, well, I can't say the word I want to say.

"I had the first two mistakes and after the botched triple-flip, I sort of took a timeout and said this is unacceptable. You have to fight for this. You can't just give up and die here. I put everything I had into the rest of the program. It was ugly, but I did it."

Asked why he struggles so much in world competitions, Abbott replied, "Each time it's a learning experience for me, and I'm really trying to find my place on the world stage and really believing that I belong. I finally realized that I belong at nationals and I belong in the Grand Prix, and it's just time for me to realize I belong on the world stage."

Jim Caple | email

ESPN Senior Writer
Author of "The Devil Wears Pinstripes" and winner of a Sports Emmy. Reported from 17 World Series, 9 Olympics, 6 continents.



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