TURIN, Italy - Johnny Weir brought his candor — and his particular need for creature comforts — to the Winter Olympics.
“I am very princessy as far as travel is concerned and having a nice room and things like that. Sorry to say ‘princessy,”’ he added, laughing, “but that’s what we do.”
Known for his outspoken manner, the three-time U.S. men’s champion isn’t afraid to declare that the Olympic Village “is not very comfortable.”
“It’s a little dusty, very underdecorated, the beds aren’t very soft,” Weir said Tuesday, “but I’m enjoying it!”
Weir wasn’t complaining, per se — just being himself.
“I hate carrying my own luggage and I hate trekking up stairs. I like a nice bed to be laid out for me. So it’s not any of that. It’s not very comfortable,” he said.
“I’m roughing it,” he said, chuckling some more. “It’d be the same as me going out into the woods, I think. Camping. Camping.”
Outlandish remarks are not unusual for Weir, who describes himself as a “wild card” for a medal but is more likely to be left in the dust next week by Russia’s Evgeni Plushenko.
Weir, 21, got into trouble with U.S. Figure Skating officials last month when he described the tempo of a competitor’s short program as “a vodka-shot, let’s-snort-coke kind of thing.” He’s also previously described his costumes to “an icicle on coke” and “a Care Bear on acid.”
But he refuses to bow to any sort of self-censorship.
“I think people are definitely very wary of what’s going to come out of my mouth and they’re very worried about the kind of image I’m portraying for figure skating, as far as I’ve heard,” he said. “That’s cool. People should stay scared.”
When a TV reporter asked him to say hello to his fans back home in Newark, Del., — an almost compulsory event at Olympic news conferences — Weir was gracious and thanked the “many people who have touched my life and enriched it and helped me get to the point where I’m at.”
Then, as if to prove that there’s no muzzling him, Weir went a little further. He also mentioned “a lot of people there, though, that didn’t support me at the beginning, so all of a sudden, they are. And that’s not something that I enjoy. I don’t like two-faces.”
“So, to those people, you know, you can — you can do your thing, and it just shows that with proper support and proper encouragement, you can go very far even if there are people that are detracting from everything.”
Weir said he admired another plain-speaking U.S. athlete — skier Bode Miller.
“Bode Miller, you know, huge props to him for saying what he wants to and not being sugarcoated,” he said. Such an attitude “makes me interesting for figure skating and makes him interesting for skiing. ... I assume he and I feel very similar.”
With flamboyant costumes to match his outrageous words, Weir said he draws his inspiration for eccentricity from his mother, who encouraged him to be his own person.
“That’s something that at the end of the day, I know even if I make everyone angry and say things that nobody likes, my mom will still support what I said because I said it,” he said. “She thinks it’s funny when I say crazy things in the media. She doesn’t take it that seriously,” Weir added.
He candidly handicapped the field, saying “Plushenko will be first, unless he makes mistakes.”
“The gold medal is his to lose,” Weir said.
Fighting for the second and third spots on the podium, he said, would be Stephane Lambiel of Switzerland, Brian Joubert of France, U.S. teammate Evan Lysacek, himself, Emanuel Sandhu and Jeff Buttle, both of Canada, and Daisuke Takahashi of Japan.
“I’m hoping it will be me, Plushenko and Lambiel on the podium. That’s my hope. Not a prediction — just a hope,” Weir said.
And look out — after his figure skating career is over, he said he wants to write “a tell-all book.”
“I just want to expose all of these things that I’ve learned from growing in the sport, and having done it very quickly, I’ve gotten to see the very different levels of competition — from being an upstart and being very looked-after and being the next big thing to being completely cut off and being thrown back into it where you’re the main hopeful for the Olympics.
“I’ve been through the wringer and I know everything and I’ve seen everything that goes on. There are so many skeletons in the closet in figure skating, and there’s a lot of stuff that goes down that people don’t know about,” he said.
Fashion on ice
A look at stylish, elegant and crazy figure skating costumes