Three Minutes in Black and White

When Johnny is on the ice, I think I can look into Johnny’s soul. … I could watch Johnny skate and never jump. — Patti Weir


One of the best parts of the Sun Valley fan experience is to watch Johnny rehearse on the outdoor rink early in the afternoon in preparation for the evening show. But this year, due to various astonishing travel snafus that basically defy description, Johnny did not arrive in Sun Valley until about three hours after the pro rehearsal had ended. Thus there are no Johnny rehearsal photos, for maybe the first time ever.

So this year fans were invited to watch the preshow warmup that takes place in Sun Valley’s indoor rink about 90 minutes before the performance. While not necessarily a closed session, generally the warmup is not attended by random people, so this was a special treat that helped ease the disappointment of the missed rehearsal.

Davey and I arrived extra early to assess the lighting conditions and try to figure out the best vantage point for photos and video. No one else was there save for one or two staff members, and no music was on the loudspeakers. We pulled cameras and lenses and filters out of bags in the silence, and Davey assembled his stuff while I pondered through a low-caffeine haze whether or not to deal with setting up the tripod. I am not much of a videographer, but since Davey has yet to grow another pair of arms to allow him to shoot photos and video simultaneously, I’m the designated video lackey.

And then a lone slim figure all in black materialized across the rink from us and quietly stepped onto the ice.

No time for the tripod. I grabbed the video camera and barely remembered to press “Record.”

And for three minutes, before the other show skaters began drifting in, it was just Johnny and the ice, and us.

I shot footage for two of those minutes, knowing it would be frustratingly shaky without the stabilizing tripod, but its subject breathtaking even so.

It is a tremendous privilege to watch Johnny practice. I never ever forget that for a moment. And even rarer to see him have the ice to himself.

No jumps or spins. Just an exhausted but ever-driven Johnny taking the ice for the first time in days, stretching, gliding, stroking, finding his rhythm in preparation for those jumps and spins, as he has done a million times before, in the stark, unforgiving reality that is the practice rink.

The resulting photos reminded me of something else Patti Weir once said, that she could always see Johnny’s eyelashes from anywhere in the rink, no matter how far away she was.

The only sounds amidst the hush, as you’ll hear in the video below: the steady hum of the cooling equipment, doors squeaking and banging open and closed, Davey’s shutter softly click-click-clicking.

And the mesmerizing whoosh of Johnny’s blades . . .


Johnny Weir at practice in Sun Valley JW_DWK_08-2015_IMG_3384-2_e1wm

 

Johnny Weir at practice in Sun Valley JW_DWK_08-2015_IMG_3386_e2wm

 

Johnny Weir at practice in Sun Valley JW_DWK_08-2015_IMG_3395_e1wm

 

Johnny Weir at practice in Sun Valley JW_DWK_08-2015_IMG_3397_e1wm

 

Johnny Weir at practice in Sun Valley JW_DWK_08-2015_IMG_3399_e1wm

 

Johnny Weir at practice in Sun Valley JW_DWK_08-2015_IMG_3400_e1wm

 

Johnny Weir at practice in Sun Valley JW_DWK_08-2015_IMG_3402_e1wm

 

Johnny Weir at practice in Sun Valley JW_DWK_08-2015_IMG_3404_e2wm

 

Johnny Weir at practice in Sun Valley JW_DWK_08-2015_IMG_3414_e2wm

 

Johnny Weir at practice in Sun Valley JW_DWK_08-2015_IMG_3415_e2wm

 

Johnny Weir at practice in Sun Valley JW_DWK_08-2015_IMG_3417_e1wm

 

Johnny Weir at practice in Sun Valley JW_DWK_08-2015_IMG_3418_e1wm

 

Johnny Weir at practice in Sun Valley JW_DWK_08-2015_IMG_3421_e1wm

 

Johnny Weir at practice in Sun Valley JW_DWK_08-2015_IMG_3422_e1wm

 

Johnny Weir at practice in Sun Valley JW_DWK_08-2015_IMG_3423_e1wm

 

Johnny Weir at practice in Sun Valley JW_DWK_08-2015_IMG_3425_e1wm

 

Johnny Weir at practice in Sun Valley JW_DWK_08-2015_IMG_3426_e1wm

 

Johnny Weir at practice in Sun Valley JW_DWK_08-2015_IMG_3427_e1wmFrozen by the camera, the laces on his skates the only indication of how fast he’s actually moving.

 

Johnny Weir at practice in Sun Valley JW_DWK_08-2015_IMG_3429_e1wm

 

Johnny Weir at practice in Sun Valley JW_DWK_08-2015_IMG_3430_e1wm

 

Johnny Weir at practice in Sun Valley JW_DWK_08-2015_IMG_3431_e2wm

 

Johnny Weir at practice in Sun Valley JW_DWK_08-2015_IMG_3432_e1wm

 

Johnny Weir at practice in Sun Valley JW_DWK_08-2015_IMG_3434_e1wm

 

Johnny Weir at practice in Sun Valley JW_DWK_08-2015_IMG_3435_e1wm

 

Johnny Weir at practice in Sun Valley JW_DWK_08-2015_IMG_3436_e1wm

 

Johnny Weir at practice in Sun Valley JW_DWK_08-2015_IMG_3439_e2wm

 

Johnny Weir at practice in Sun Valley JW_DWK_08-2015_IMG_3442_e1wmReturning to his starting position to do it all again…


VIDEO


Please turn up the volume if necessary to hear his skates slicing across the ice. So amazing.
Video link.


REMINDER: GO SEE JOHNNY SKATE! American fans have a cornucopia of opportunities to see Johnny perform this fall! He’s starring in An Evening With Champions again September 18 and 19, and he’s also headlining Nancy Kerrigan’s Halloween on Ice throughout October. Both shows offer VIP tickets that include a post-show meet-n-greet where you can get photos/autographs. Don’t miss out!


CONGRATULATIONS to The Quotable Johnny Weir, which celebrated its fifth blogoversary this week of “posting things Johnny Weir says!” Please offer a shoutout to Nancy Knisley for all her efforts in preserving his wit and wisdom for posterity.


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  1 comment for “Three Minutes in Black and White

  1. August 20, 2015 at 10:25 am

    Thanks for the shout-out, Binky. The Quotable Johnny Weir wouldn’t be as packed with as much sparkle without your Johnny Weir blogs keeping me up-to-date on everything Johnny. Hard to believe it’s been five years since I decided that someone needed to save and share “things Johnny says.” And that someone needed to be me.

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