Johnny Weir’s & Tara Lipinski’s Most Savage, Hilarious Figure Skating Comments
When they debuted as a commentating team at the Sochi Olympics four years ago, Johnny Weir and Tara Lipinski immediately struck gold with their dynamic. Their catty, gossipy tone contrasted beautifully with the formality of the event and bucked the more staid approach of previous commentators. It’s no wonder why NBC brought the duo back as figure skating analysts for the PyeongChang Games.
The pair have been controversial from the jump, both in the booth and out in the world. Weir especially has become notorious for throwing shade at skaters, to the point where his middle name could probably be that clapback emoji. He’s also become a bit of a fashion icon due to his outrageous style.
Of course, being such big personalities will foment a cadre of haters. And Twitter being the Very Good Opinion Delivery System that it is seems like the perfect forum for airing these grievances.
Many of these opinions center around Johnny and Tara’s harshness towards skaters and their propensity for commentating during the programs they’re covering. Which seems like it shouldn’t really bother people that much, seeing as that’s basically their job.
Along with all of their fashion highlights and other hilarious antics, the pair have had some master moments in shade-throwing at the Games so far. Let's recap.
First and foremost, their Hunger Games aesthetic
Johnny’s style has been compared to that of Stanley Tucci’s Caesar Flickerman character from The Hunger Games, a fact that the team has leaned into.
Their comments before and after Nathan Chen's first skate
"He’s the quad king. He is so special because he has revolutionized skating in the United States. All the men across the world are trying to catch up to his quad." -- Tara
"His skating is sublime. The artistry, the moxie, the swagger, it’s all there." -- Johnny
"He looks very tentative and slow… he just looks so nervous. He’s been to every event, but when you step onto Olympic ice, it changes the game… the next time he steps onto the ice, you remember that as a skater." -- Tara
"That’s the worst short program I’ve ever seen from Nathan Chen… disastrous… now the bronze for Team USA is in jeopardy (in the team event)." -- Johnny
Johnny showing very little sympathy after a rough performance
Their response to the criticism
In a recent interview with The Washington Post, Weir and Lipinski bluntly responded to critics who accused them of being to mean.
"There are lots of things we have to explain, and if you aren’t used to hearing real critiquing or real commentating, yeah, it can be harsh when somebody falls down and we say, “Hey, they fell,” Weir said. "But would you rather understand why they fell, or would you just like to pretend it didn’t happen?"
He added, "I think our response to people saying “mean” is truth can be harsh, and truth can be hard to hear at times. But it’s our job to do that, and we’re not backing away from it in any way."
Tara weighed in, too: "The first day of skating... it was disastrous, and there was really no other way to put it. So, if we see more skating like that, we’re definitely gonna call it as we see it. I think that’s our style. It has been since we started in the booth. There’s no reason not to be authentic and real with your audience, and we’re not here to sugarcoat anything."
Johnny also offered a similar explanation via Twitter:
I’m a commentator, not a “complimentator.” Explaining falls and rough skates is hard because I have been that skater, and truth can hurt. But I would never be able to do my job without telling the truth about every aspect of figure skating and the performances you’ll see.— Johnny Weir (@JohnnyGWeir) February 10, 2018
The duo on pairs skating
Johnny: “The goal in pairs skating is to make it look like you are skating as one person. In a corny way, like your hearts beat together.”
Tara: “Like riding on a tandem bike.”
Johnny on how he can’t be out-Christina’d
Tara's Elon Musk moment
“She is like the Elon Musk of figure skating," she said of 15-year-old Olympic figure skating gold medalist Alina Zagitova. "She can see the things that have never been done before, and then she gets there and does them better and faster than anyone else.”
Johnny on Karen Chen's free skate final performance
“There is a wonderful integrity to the performances Karen Chen gives… there were just too many technical mistakes.”
Tara on Mirai Nagasu's free skate
“That was definitely not the free skate she was hoping for… it’s just disappointing.”
Johnny's take on the 2018 figure skating competition as a whole
“It was the most heartbreakingly beautiful ladies’ competition that I’ve ever seen.”
It seems like NBC is relying on this duo to be their fill-in commentary team for a number of events: dog shows, horse races, Super Bowl pre-shows, hot dog eating contests (probably), etc. With how electric they are on and off camera, I think it we all win in this arrangement.
Check back during the games for all of Thrillist’s continuing Olympics coverage. Think of us like an all-knowing friend watching along with you to answer all the important questions, like how heavy are Olympic medals. We'll explain everything from curling rules and figure skating scoring to what OAR means, why winning athletes are receiving stuffed animals and much, much more.