BREAKING NEWS! This just popped up on Johnny’s official website: Johnny is one of the celebrity guests who will appear on E!’s new digital series, Hashtaggers, premiering Monday, February 8! More info here and here.
Johnny and Tara killing it during their backstage tour of the 2016 US National Figure Skating Championships. Video below! And as much fun as they bring to the air, it’s their informed and substantive commentary that keeps viewers engaged and coming back for more.
UPDATE! The VIDEO section below has been updated with the full live broadcasts of the men’s and ladies’ free skates with Johnny, Tara, and Terry’s commentary! Pairs coming soon. Plus: scroll down for an update on the outstanding ratings earned by the primetime broadacast!
OK! Our liveblog companion post with which we launched our US Nats coverage morphed over the weekend into a megapost that is so jampacked with goodies it’s becoming unwieldy with awesome, so we’ve migrated here to bring a conclusion to the drama, festivities, beautiful skating, and exceptional commentary by NBC’s Dream Team that was the 2016 US National Figure Skating Championships. But please be sure to visit that post once again in case there’s anything you missed!
Today’s post includes tons of fab video, with the entire Dream Team commentary coming soon, so please check back for updates.
As always, Nationals sparked controversy, this time in the senior men’s final. Video of that moment below, and may I offer huge kudos to Johnny (and Tara) for raising questions about the judging and telling it like it is. Johnny’s opinions rattled a few rabid skating fans who apparently were unable to grasp his point, which was not to denigrate Adam Rippon, but rather (1) to highlight the discrepancy between US judges’ scoring philosophy versus that of international judges—a discrepancy that does not serve our US men well when they go to compete on the world stage, and (2) to warn against leaving young quadmonster Nathan Chen off the Worlds team in favor of Jason Brown, who was forced to withdraw from Nats due to a back injury, but had petitioned for a Worlds spot (evoking the unwelcome spectre of Ashley Wagner and Mirai Nagasu in 2014…).
The majority of the social media response to his outspokenness was a resounding “BRAVO!” Here’s just a small sample from Twitter. Please also check the overwhelmingly positive comments on Johnny’s official Facebook.
Love @taralipinski and Johnny Weir's skating commentary. Not a lot of unnecessary chatter, and so knowledgeable.
— Violet Skyye (@Violetskyye) January 25, 2016
— Diana Rogers (@dianadrogers) January 25, 2016
— Misty Sanders (@mistyraeann) January 25, 2016
— MEC469 (@MEC469) January 24, 2016
— Tim Long (@TimmyLong) January 24, 2016
— Richard Agnes (@richardagnes) January 24, 2016
So appreciate @JohnnyGWeir's commentary- refreshingly frank and insightful yet never abandoning tact. Oodles of respect!
— Laura Tschaplinski (@LauraTsch) January 24, 2016
— Calmly Camille (@Calmly_Camille) January 24, 2016
— Reed Kelly (@thereedkelly) January 24, 2016
— MicheleL (@mdanl73) January 24, 2016
— Christopher Herbert (@chrisdherbert) January 24, 2016
— Jamila Robinson (@JamilaRobinson) January 24, 2016
I appreciate @JohnnyGWeir being openly skeptical of the judges while supportive of skaters. Scottie didn't afford him that courtesy in 2008.
— Grandma Cyd (@GrandmaCyd) January 24, 2016
And Johnny Weir fully embraces the Dick Button Snark Mantle. Kind of approve. Some things need to be said. #USChamps16
— Ann Stephens (@Ann_Stephens) January 24, 2016
— Alyson Stemas (@AlysonPaige3) January 24, 2016
— Steph Lamb (@stephkatrina) January 24, 2016
— David B. Connor (@DannyCinicic) January 24, 2016
And that was some great television right there. But even before the riveting men’s final and ensuing uproar, sportwriter Tom Jones of the Tampa Bay Times had already congratulated Johnny, Tara, and NBC for what he termed a “superb broadcast” in a review of the weekend’s worst and best sports programming:
NBC’s figure skating coverage from St. Paul, Minn., was highlighted by the bubbly duo of analysts Tara Lipinski and Johnny Weir. But there is plenty of substance behind their style. Their commentary is strong and insightful, and they even take the occasional shots at judges, which is welcome in a sport that far too often will shy away from such criticism.
Plus, they simply have a way with words. When talking about Bradie Tennell, who finished sixth in her first major women’s competition, Weir said, “You go from these tiny rinks in the middle of who knows where, then all of a sudden you got these bright lights in your face, and it’s outrageously scary.”
That’s outrageously good.
When figure skating in the US continues to battle low interest, financial difficulties, few touring opportunities, and not nearly enough air time [side-eyeing NBC and IceNetwork because COME ON GUYS STOP ARGUING FIGURE IT OUT AND JUST AIR IT ALL LIVE FFS], it is moments like this, thanks to Johnny being exactly who he is, that boost interest and get people talking. The kind of social media engagement that resulted both cannot be bought and is priceless for the sport. I echo Jones in congratulating Johnny, Tara, Terry, and all of NBC Sports for an outstanding weekend of skating coverage that could only have been better if there had been more of it.
UPDATE: NBC released their ratings for the week, which include this excellent news about the primetime skating coverage on Saturday night. Viewership within the golden demographic that networks aim for—people ages 18-49—was up 20% this year. It’s a safe bet that casual skating fans tuning in for Johnny and Tara’s chemistry and commentary account for some of that increase:
NBC Sports’ primetime coverage of the “U.S. Figure Skating Championships” (0.6/2 in 18-49, 3.7 million viewers overall from 8-11 p.m. ET) INCREASED BY +20% … versus the year-ago coverage in 18-49 … and was up +11% in total viewers (3.701 million vs. 3.334 million).
These are the top “U.S. Figure Skating Championship” primetime ratings in a non-Winter Olympic year since 2012 (0.6/2 in 18-49, 3.711 million viewers overall). In 18-49, the [increase] equals the event’s highest rating in a non-Olympic year since 2009.
And now: once again, everything you’ve probably already seen but here it all is in one place!
PROGRAMMING NOTE: Men’s and ladies’ medal-winners’ free skates with Johnny and Tara’s commentary are available on NBC Sports and on Johnny’s official website.
First glimpse of Johnny on Sunday, the final day of competition:
Via @Team_PDD: “In Michelle Kwan’s name, we say, #AMEN. #USChamps16 #prayercircle 🙏👼⛸🕯(@JohnnyGWeir) “
Look of the Day: Blazer @leshommes_ Leathers @currentelliott Wedge @sportmax Glove/Tie @karina_grigoryants Hair/Face @niasjoymakeup Airing 4EST by @johnnygweir
Live on the air!
At the conclusion of the event: more awkward Scott Hamilton screencaps. With explanatory notes.
Scott explains how scores are “built” during a skate, as if this is a concept with which Tara and Johnny are completely unfamiliar, having spent their last 10 years on a deserted island without livestreaming. Terry considers strangling him.
The final moment of the discussion: event scoring aside, Johnny states firmly that he’ll be happy as long as the top three men’s medalists are named to the Worlds team. An hour or so after this aired, USFSA announced the team and it is, in fact, the top three men’s medalists: Adam Rippon, Max Aaron, and Nathan Chen. Jason Brown’s petition was denied.
Awkwardness thankfully finished for the day, Johnny is ready for the Gala in his inimitable style.
Look of the Eve: Jacket @longchamp Shirt @hachibalmung Jeans @currentelliott Boot @driesvannoten Cuff @hermes Watch @rolex Hair/Face @niasjoymakeup Thank you @bpcm by @johnnygweir
Pouty face is on. Always a bit sad when a Nationals ends…but couldn’t have asked for better skating! Also couldn’t have had a better time with my partner in crime @johnnygweir + #Terry ⛸🎙+ @toddkap 💑 + @niasjoymakeup 💄 + @lmc6188 👯 by @taralipinski
I love them.
Don’t threaten us with Whitney @taralipinski @johnnygweir #gala by @taraandjohnny
I am so thankful to work with someone I love so much. Thank you for joining us for so many major moments this weekend. @taralipinski @taraandjohnny by @johnnygweir
Johnny post-Nats with French skater Romain Ponsart.
With the amazing @romainponsart by @johnnygweir
VIDEO! Plus more to come!
UPDATE! Pairs free skate and ladies’ short program intro segment, Saturday afternoon, 01-23-2016.
Ladies’ free skate intro segment, Saturday primetime, 01-23-2016.
Ladies’ free skate closing segment with bonus Scott Hamilton awkwardness, Saturday primetime, 01-23-2016.
UPDATED version! Men’s free skate intro segment, Sunday, 01-24-2016. Watch for NBC’s tribute to Johnny and his three national championships at about 3:40!
Men’s free skate closing segment, with bonus Scott Hamilton awkwardness and scoring controversy.
UPDATE! The full live broadcasts of the men’s and ladies’ free skates, with Johnny, Tara, and Terry’s commentary! Pairs broadcast coming soon.
Saturday primetime broadcast: men’s short program and ladies’ free skate, part 1.
Saturday primetime broadcast: men’s short program and ladies’ free skate, part 2.
Saturday primetime broadcast: men’s short program and ladies’ free skate, part 3.
Sunday afternoon broadcast: men’s free skate, part 1.
Sunday afternoon broadcast: men’s free skate, part 2.
NBC FLUFF PIECES WITH JOHNNY AND TARA
Johnny and Tara check out ice dance practice with Meryl Davis.
Alternate link coming soon.
Johnny and Tara’s backstage tour of Nationals.
Alternate link coming soon.
Johnny and Tara sit down with US Champion Adam Rippon and talk about: THE HAIR.
Alternate link coming soon.
@taralipinski & @johnnygweir deserve Emmy’s for their commentary #usfigureskating #championships #2016 #johnnyweir #taralipinski #graciegold #yaaas #emmyawards by @thackarybinx
NEED MORE JOHNNY? (Is that even a question? Of course you do.) This coming weekend NBC brings you yet more fabulous skating commentary from Terry and the Glitter Twins! First up: NBC will air the US Nationals Exhibition Gala Saturday, January 30, 4 pm ET / 3 pm CT. Then on Sunday, The Dream Team hosts the 2016 European Figure Skating Championships also at 4 pm ET / 3 pm CT. Don’t miss a moment!
Image via Johnny’s official website.
Very special thanks to video ninja Jenn Kittler for the opening and closing segments, and the full broadcast videos!