We've always had some fun with "flamboyant" and "unconventional" men's figure skater Johnny Weir around here; during the Olympics, we found him one of the few high-profile athletes with legitimate personality. (Or "flair," if you will.)
When Weir gave his famous "the establishment can't handle me" speech, we thought he was overreaching a little bit. But a reader tells us that the U.S. figure skating "establishment" really might have some serious problems with Weir ... and is feeling its repercussions.
The new brochure and website for the U.S. Figure Skating Championships, to be held next January in Spokane Washington, are out now, and there is quite a glaring admission. Although reigning Men's National Champion, a title he has held for the last three years, Johnny Weir is not mentioned or pictured anywhere on either entity. The website bears the stamp 'Sanctioned by U.S. Figure Skating" in the lower left corner; it looks like the United States Figure Skating Association is trying to send quite a message, to both the public and to Weir himself, apparently, by omitting him from advertising for the championships. Every other major skater is included: Kwan (who didn't compete at the Olympics, Worlds or the 2006 Nationals), Cohen, Meisner, Belbin & Agosto, and of course their fair-haired boy Evan Lysacek.
Word within skating circles is that the USFSA is hoping to replace Weir as mens representative for the sport with Lysacek, whom they deem more 'socially acceptable', regardless of the fact that he is nowhere near the artist or technician that Weir is. I can't think of another sport where authorities have this kind of power over the career of the athlete regardless of their talent and record.