Contrary to what you might think, there will be Russian skaters competing.
On this episode of Recode Media with Peter Kafka, figure skaters-turned-commentators Johnny Weir and Tara Lipinski talk about their coverage of the upcoming Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea. The pair debuted their tell-it-like-it-is style at the Sochi Olympics and have been entertaining/informing skating audiences ever since.
You can read some of the highlights from the interview here, or listen to it in the audio player above. Below, we’ve provided a lightly edited complete transcript of their conversation.
Peter Kafka: This is Recode Media with Peter Kafka, that’s me, I’m part of the Vox Media podcast network, coming to you from snowy New York City. I’m here with figure skating royalty Tara Lipinski and Johnny Weir. This conversation is part of The Podium, it’s a podcast collaboration between NBC Sports Group and Vox Media. Beginning in January we’ll bring you athlete profiles, daily updates and exciting stories from the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
Thanks for coming in on a Saturday and chatting. Do you guys normally work on a Saturday or is this a special event for you?
Tara Lipinski: No, it’s the norm for us. Figure skating is on every single weekend. Are you not watching? We require all of our …
I’m making a face, yes, sometimes I watch.
TL: We are always in Stanford recording on the weekends. You know, we don’t have the normal 9-to-5, Monday-through-Friday, it’s usually Saturday or Sunday.
Johnny Weir: It’s Sunday at three in the morning. It’s whenever … we watch via satellite from events all over the world, and do our voice-overs from Stanford. We have a schedule.
So Stanford is NBC Sports HQ, they do all the streaming out of there and the events happen all around the world. So that answers my first big question, which is what do you guys do when the Olympics are not on, and that’s come in on a Saturday to Connecticut and watch figure skating.
TL: Well yeah, I mean the skating … I mean obviously the public always tunes in for the Olympic Games, but there is a skating season. It usually starts in late October, November, and then we have the Grand Prix series that goes for a couple months, and there’s Skate America and the Grand Prix of Japan, and China, and it goes all over the world. Then there’s the final, which is what we’re actually in studio today for, and then you have Nationals, which is also sort of known as the Olympic Trials, and then you have the big guy, the Olympics.
JW: But of course we, we’re often thought of as … just sort of being cave dwellers then popping out during the Olympic Games. We do lots of other things, we’re entertainers more than just skating commentators. We work all year and we do lots of other things aside of … outside of the Olympics.
So you don’t … I want to talk to you more about that, but you’re not hibernating every four years and then popping out. Let’s talk about the Olympics that are coming up. Russia is not going to be there, it sounds like the U.S. is going to be there, there was some debate about that this week apparently from Donald Trump and Sarah Sanders. I guess they’re going. What is Russia not being at the Olympics mean for skating specifically?
JW: Well, for skating specifically it’s … there definitely still will be Russian athletes and Russian representatives at the Olympic Games. They just won’t be able to compete under the Russian flag. They’re competing as … under the Olympic flag, and I think they’re called “Athletes of Russia” on all of their uniforms.
TL: I think it’s the “Olympic Athletes from Russia.” Yeah.
JW: Olympic Athletes from Russia. There we are. As athletes, it’s a huge step in the right direction that the only athletes competing in Pyeongchang will be clean athletes, and that you won’t have to worry that you’re being beaten by somebody that has an unfair advantage. However, for us as Americans and American Olympians, it would have been so traumatic not to be able to compete under your flags. So while it is great that it’s just clean athletes competing at the Olympics and that clean Russian athletes will be able to compete, it’s sad that they won’t be able to compete under their flag.
So do you … Again, I’m not going to pass myself off as a figure skating authority. Will the best of the Russian skaters be there? Are there some that are not going to be able to qualify for drug reasons?
TL: I think that all of the Russian skaters will be there. I don’t think — Johnny, I don’t know about you — but I don’t think I’ve heard anything about any of the skaters, at least. The figure skaters being tested and come into question, but like Johnny said, I think at this time I think it’s really amazing that this is happening.
You want to have clean athletes at an Olympic Games. People train, athletes train their whole life for this and they want to be up against competition that, they’re all doing it the same way. That’s what it’s about. And it would be heartbreaking if a lot of … Especially in our sport, if these figure skaters who have trained their entire career to get to this point were not able to go to South Korea and compete. That would be devastating. At least, they’re able to go and still continue on with their dream. And then at the same time, you’re getting clean athletes, which is …
So the caliber of competition won’t drop, at least for figure skating?
JW: No, and looking at Russia and Russian athletes, they are certainly the best in the world in the ladies event, they have strong ice dancers, strong pair skaters and strong men. I think the only place that there’s a little bit of gray area still, there’s a new Olympic sport for figure skating, it’s the team event, much like in gymnastics how it’s always been U.S.A. versus Russia, versus the world.
Russia obviously factors in really strongly and prominently into the team event at the Olympic Games for figure skating and if there is no technically Russian team, it’s a little bit gray right now, still, as to what’s going to happen. So if the Russian athletes will still compete in the team event underneath the Olympic flag, or if they are just out entirely.
As commentators, as entertainers, as people sort of aware of what people tune in to the Olympics for, how much do you think that not having a U.S.A.-versus-Russia competition matters in terms of narratives? I’m so old that I remember Lake Placid and the U.S. and Soviet hockey competition. As you guys are thinking about how to raise the sort of dramatic stakes for this, does not having a country to compete against matter?
TL: I think it’s always nice to have that U.S.A. versus another country and build up that intense competition. At the same time, there’s still a rivalry, so these skaters have been competing, whether it’s the Russians who have been competing against all these other countries, they’ve really been dominating in our sport, especially in the ladies’ events. So when you go out and you have Evgenia Medvedeva announced as an Olympic athlete for Russia, I think you’re still going to get the same sense that there is competition there and that there’s a rivalry going on between Russia and, say, a U.S. skater. It’s a little bit more complex, but I don’t think it will affect it that much.
JW: Yeah, figure skating is the diamond of the tiara of the Winter Olympics and it’s always dramatic whether you have a U.S. skater versus — back in the old days — a Soviet skater. I mean, the U.S. is one of six countries that are really dominating the sport, it isn’t just U.S.A. versus the world anymore. It’s going to be dramatic regardless.
So Johnny, you said that you’re the diamond of the tiara. You guys are announcing the diamond in the tiara, that makes you the biggest stars of the Olympics, I think, at least for the U.S. audience. I think that they’re much more likely to recognize and know you guys then any individual athlete. Are you comfortable with that notion?
JW: We’re very proud to bring figure skating to American living rooms, and we’re very proud to educate people in a different way than maybe they have over the last many moons. Tara and I do things more conversationally, we’re very direct with our audience, and I think that it’s a huge honor for us to be carrying figure skating, because it is such a big sport, and such a big draw at the Olympic Games. We couldn’t be happier about it. I can’t say that we’re the biggest stars of the Olympics.
I can say it though, right? I mean …
JW: That’s very complimentary and very sweet of you, but we definitely know who we are and we know how to entertain people. What we do is fun, but it’s really all about the athletes and all about the skating that you’ll see.
TL: I think that’s … Johnny and I feel the same way about that is, as much as we put on the show and we have a lot of fun, and we think about what we’re doing for our craft. I think with the underlying issue that we’re always thinking about is how to bring the American public back into figuring skating and make skating just as popular as it was in the ’90s. So it is about the skaters and it’s about creating storylines, and getting the audience to really invest in each skater and follow their journey, and make it exciting.
Why do you guys think figure skating has fallen off in popularity since the ’90s?
TL: I mean, there’s so many reasons.
JW: There’s so many variables. We each have somewhat a differing of opinions. I mean, I think that figure skating — despite an ice dancing couple winning the Olympics in Sochi for the United States, or a man winning in Vancouver for the United States — I think that figure skating is very driven on a strong and dominant female skater and there hasn’t been a strong, dominant female skater from the United States in quite some time.
In addition, things go in and out of fashion. Even traditional television is losing things to the internet. Things go in and out in waves and it’s usually young people that dictate it, so if young people aren’t invested in a skater and a peer that they can relate to then they are less likely to tune in for skating.
TL: Yeah, I think they’re just … sort of what Johnny just said, there really hasn’t been a name that is in the media on a daily basis and that’s what skating in the ’90s was. Everyone knew after the Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan incident. Tonya Harding, Nancy Kerrigan, Kristi Yamaguchi, Michelle Kwan. Everyone knew these names, they were household names because they were winning, they were on TV, there was just … The perception of skating, I think, was different. It had a little more glitz and glamour and it appealed to all ages, whereas now we really haven’t had that star.
I think if we do and that star sort of starts popping up in pop culture moments, that would change the sport, in my opinion. You never know when that can happen. You have someone like Nathan Chen in our men’s event who … you know, he’s a little different than skaters we’ve seen. He’s groundbreaking, he’s a lot different. I mean, he’s doing five and six quads and really upping the technical ante of the sport, which I think … You know, think about X Games and people love all these tricks. You wonder if possibly that would bring in some viewers to see this kid go out there and do these amazing jumps and do so many of them.
How much of it is about what happens on the ice versus, I think now with especially with personality, and celebrity, and profile you have off the ice. Johnny, I think you’re probably the last famous U.S. figure skater, right? A lot of that is about your persona. Do you think that the skaters are being encouraged to sort of have a larger than life personality outside of the rink?
JW: I don’t think so. I understood in the sort of twilight years of my skating, I understood who I was and what I was going to be able to do at the Olympic Games and what I was capable of. So I thought, well, what other options are there for me? I am the first generation after that crew of ’90s and early 2000s skaters that could really make a living off of figure skating and be successful off the ice. There were less contracts, less tours, less money, that sort of stuff.
So you’re saying the market contracted when you were leaving the Olympics?
JW: When I was first able to go to the Olympics, so …
That market had shrunk down for you?
JW: The market had shrunk down, plus I’m a male skater, plus I was … I’m gay, and you know things are different in a marketing sense than getting a pretty girl in a pretty dress on the cover of something. I just do things differently and I understood what the fashion was, so when I was going to my second Olympic Games it was Gaga and it was Kardashians, it wasn’t as wholesome as maybe the ’90s would have been. So you have to be, in some ways, competitive in an entertainment format with that sort of person.
So you were very conscious of that, you’re saying I’m both competing in the Olympics and I’m also building a career and I need to be thoughtful about the way I’m going to be thought of outside of the Olympics, outside of the couple of hours I’m going to be on national TV?
JW: Exactly. I think that is something that there’s a bit of a disconnect in the skating world between the people that sort of run … rule the roost, to the people that are in charge of the skaters. Many skaters still have awesome personalities, they’re cool, they’re interesting people, but the people that are in charge of judging them and sort of pushing their career forward and giving them opportunities to compete in the Olympics or World Championships are much older and they’re still thinking about the heydays of the wholesome ’90s when, obviously, the Nancy Kerrigan, Tonya Harding incident was huge news. It was scary, it was wild, it was these women in beautiful dresses and competing for Olympic gold, and blades, and ice. The ’90s were a lot more wholesome than now and I think if you’re too much of a purist and you hold onto what was, you’ll never actually get what is.
Is there some of that same tension between sort of how you guys view the sport versus maybe how NBC would want to present it? Do you guys have that discussion, where NBC says, “Well, let’s focus on this kind of story line, or this kind of personality,” you guys say, “No, no, this is much more interesting”?
TL: I feel like Johnny and I have been really lucky from the very start with NBC. I mean taking us back four years when we … I was working with NBC before that, but when Johnny and I started as a team and it was Terry Gannon, Johnny and I in Sochi. We were the B-team, and NBC was involved but they had a prime-time show to put on. So we were really kind of left to ourselves to figure out who we were. I think that …
That’s always a great opportunity, right?
TL: It really was.
People aren’t focusing on you.
TL: It was, because everything from that point on was just natural and organic. I think that’s why it still continues to flow so well for us as a team. You know, we got on the air and we were newbies and we kind of figured out our personalities on air and what worked, and how … what the dynamic was going to be and the banter. And like Johnny says, we sort of fell into the very conversational, direct, almost sitting on the couch with the viewers at home.
We just kind of put on a different show, and there was never a moment that NBC said, “Oh, well, what happens if you sort of directed the show this way, or went down a different path?” Even as we’ve moved up and now we’re in the prime-time position, they really don’t involve themselves in that way. We have great …
So even though the stakes are raised, they’re not tightening up.
TL: Right. I think they want us to really be ourselves, because it does work. Hopefully they trust in our knowledge of the sport and we’ve grown up in it, and we want the best for the sport and for a good television show. I feel like they’ve really … I mean, obviously, like I was going to say, the directors and producers and all the execs have always helped us and guided us and given us great advice. When we sit in our booth and we’re on air, it’s just us.
What percent of the audience do you think has any kind of real knowledge about how figure skating works, who the skaters are, what they’re actually doing on air?
JW: Well, the internet has completely changed even how we do our jobs as broadcasters. The internet makes it possible for wildly interested skating fans to see the events live as they happen. There are YouTube streams, there’s stuff all over, so there are skating fans who are purists and they’re so into skating and they’ve got a favorite skater and they follow them all over the world.
Tara and I were lucky enough in our skating careers to have fans like that, that would wake up at three in the morning to watch you live on the internet. They’re still there and they’ll intake skating that way, the way they want to, and often those feeds have no commentary. So these sort of behind the computer, behind the TV screen fans that maybe have never skated before but are really into skating, they can intake skating the way that they want to.
They can just inhale it, they can get it right to the main line. You said you think that peels off, they peel off from your audience, so your audience is even broadly, it’s sort of guess in … it hasn’t even … so if you’re a hardcore fan you’re probably not … you’re even less likely to watch you guys?
TL: I would say it’s almost opposite, in my opinion. I feel like the hardcore fans … Like Johnny said, there’s so much information out there, and you’re getting these live feeds of these competitions right away so they can watch them.
TL: I think they are … if they are these hardcore skating fans, they probably watch that, and then watch our broadcast.
They’ll double down.
TL: Of our broadcast as well, but I think our main audience really isn’t that, and I think we established that in Sochi. I think we brought in a lot of people that never probably watched figure skating at all. They probably … I’m thinking, you know we really don’t know, we just sort of go off of …
JW: Our Instagram demographics.
TL: Our Instagram and our Twitter and sort of the feedback we got from Sochi that I think it was sort of the show that Johnny and I put on and maybe opening the eyes of people that don’t know anything about skating, about what our sport is really like. I mean our sport is … we love our sport and we’re so passionate about it, and we respect it so much, but at the same time I think we’re lighthearted and we can sort of laugh at the moments that need to be laughed at, and then also be very truthful when we need to be, especially in a sport that’s very subjective and political.
Seems like there is a particular challenge in explaining your sport, also gymnastics, something where there isn’t a finish line, or someone scored a goal, something sort of binary, right, where there’s judging involved. Where you’ve got to explain something technical to an audience, or try to explain why that jump is going to be rated slightly less than the other jump. Seems like a real challenge for what you guys do, and on top of that be entertaining and charismatic, and draw in a big audience. Seems like a real juggling act.
JW: We have a hard job, but we love it and I think that the fact that figure skating is judged and is subjective, I think that really makes the conversation a lot more interesting, because it’s not like my dad watching the Steelers play the Patriots and there were touchdowns, and you can debate why that touchdown was better than another one.
It’s still seven points.
JW: It’s essentially, there’s a winner and a loser, and you can see the guy running to the end zone. Figure skating, there’s so many nuances, there are so many little things to debate, it makes the conversation very broad and very open. While it might sound compartmentalized, Tara and I, we can break it down in a way that everyone can understand it. You can look at a single element, or a single moment in a program choreographically and decide why that’s better, blah, blah, blah, but ultimately the cream will rise to the top. And Tara’s and my job is to take the viewer from the start to the finish of the program and explain why certain elements are harder than others. To give our opinions on the artistry, but really it’s great as an audience member to sit at home and fight for why you thought this person should have won over that person, and to start a debate in the family. It’s fun to watch figure skating.
TL: I agree with that. I think it’s definitely difficult, though. Johnny and I even have conversations after we watch an event and we have to sit there and we grew up in the sport, so we sort of know the ways of the judging system, and how things are sort of judged and how skaters sometimes have to pay their dues in this sport. It is difficult for the non-skating fans sitting at home watching a skater that maybe fell four times beat the skater that seemingly skated clean. You have to succinctly explain what just happened and in a way when we really don’t know. It is subjective. We can kind of guess why the judge or the judging panel did that, but at the same time it’s … it is so nuanced.
The time gap between South Korea and the U.S. is what, nine hours this time around? This time around it’s always the same time around.
JW: I think it’s twelve, I’m not quite sure.
Twelve. So every year, every Olympics, there’s this consistent narrative, where a certain number of people complain about tape-delayed sports, and in … the opening ceremonies are on tape-delay … this is live, this isn’t. For you guys there’s never any debate, you are almost always packaging the evening’s competition into a package that’s going to be shown on tape-delay, right?
JW: We are going to be live from South Korea. The skaters are competing earlier in the day in South Korea and the east coast of the United States is getting the coverage live.
So it will go live, okay. So I’m even less informed.
TL: So what’s been great is Johnny and I, that’s how we started in Sochi, because we weren’t doing the prime-time coverage. We just did all the live skating.
JW: We covered from warm-up one to the last skater who would most likely win the Olympic gold medal. So Tara and I really thrive in that live world and we’re excited about it, we love the challenge of do it now or do it never.
TL: Right, and also I think for the audience it’s time, and in 2017 the way that you can just get information at the tip of your fingertips in a moment and everything is so live, I do think that it’s finally time that the Olympic Games are at that moment.
That’s great, because maybe that takes that boring narrative … I was really sick of that argument, because the NBC guys would always say, “Look, we’re going to package this stuff, that’s how the majority of the country wants to watch it, hardcore people can watch it when they want to, but we’re going to deliver a package of prime-time sports.” This will work out very nicely for you guys.
JW: Yeah, I mean look at what America takes in. I mean, Kardashians and reality television. There’s nothing more real than the Olympics, so you have to see it live.
It’s the Kardashians on ice. Speaking of Kardashians, you guys have mentioned this a bit. How has social media changed your sport specifically? It seems like it’s almost designed for social media in a lot of ways.
TL: It really is. I think back to my time when I was skating and obviously I was 15 and there was no such thing as Instagram so social media wasn’t even a component of my career. Nowadays I think that it can only be helpful that these athletes can sort of engage with fans and become visible on a different platform. I don’t know if it really has changed anything for the actual sport.
For Johnny and I, it was a huge blessing in Sochi, because when we were there … Again, we were just flying under the radar and hoping we weren’t going to get fired, and that we just figured out how to do our first Olympic Games. We had … there was a lot of events to do, and time that we were on air, we essentially just started as a team. One day we went back and we made a joint Instagram account, just because we thought it would be fun, we had adjoining rooms and we had some down time, and we had a lot of fun with that. I remember one morning sort of knocking on Johnny’s door and saying, “I know we had 11 followers last night when we did this, but Johnny, we have like 20,000 more followers,” and it sort of grew from there. Now it’s …
Was there a single post that kicked it up?
JW: They were all genius …
They were all genius.
JW: I think … social media, it helps a lot of people have a perspective on the world and stuff. I would’ve loved in my career to be able to look at Instagram and watch a video of my biggest rival and seeing what music they chose, what jumps they were doing in practice. I think that’s been an advantage in some ways to the skaters. Just that they have that insight into their main competitors.
I never thought about it for any actual sort of competitive analysis, I thought this was purely sort of for promotional …
JW: You were giving us a faulty question?
No, well yes, that’s the whole point of the interview, but no, I figured this was about building your profile, your career after the Olympics, or in between Olympics. I never thought of it as something an athlete would actually use sort of competitively.
JW: Oh yeah, but I mean the world is all on social media now and especially in a time when there is … there are very few opportunities for figure skaters afterward, you’ve got to make yourself known and visible to the public, especially during the Olympics, because that’s your biggest time to shine. You’ve got to be special, it isn’t just about winning a skating event anymore, you have to be so much more to be competitive in the entertainment industry anymore.
Give us a quick preview of the games. Who are you most excited to see skate and why?
TL: I’m excited for the ladies’ event. I mean, all across all four disciplines Johnny and I have been saying this, I think the level of skating that we will see at these games will be the best that we’ve ever seen. It’s just over the last few years, especially in the men’s event, the technical aspect of that field has advanced so dramatically.
Going back to the ladies, you know, the Russians are really dominating, we have a two-time world champ,Evgenia Medvedeva from Russia, who is almost always flawless. She has an injury right now, so she’s out of the event we’re commentating this weekend. She’s the clear favorite going into the games, and what’s really interesting is her training mate, who trains under the same coach, Alina Zagitova, who was a junior last year and is a rookie and a newbie, and just sort of came onto the senior scene this year, is one of her biggest competitors. That little rivalry within itself is very exciting.
Then you have the many Japanese ladies, although we only get … only two Japanese ladies will be at the Olympics this year. They’ve been very strong. Then you have Ashley Wagner from the United States, we still … as we’re watching, we really don’t know what’s going to happen exactly just because the Olympic trials, or these skaters go to their nationals where they’re selected to get on the team. All of those events haven’t happened yet.
JW: Right, so the Olympic teams aren’t set for any country and there are no official entries into the Olympics yet, but …
TL: We can guess.
JW: You can kind of guess, as, you know, professionals would, and Tara and I think we can call ourselves professionals at this point. Looking at the U.S.’s chances I think a year ago — I mention it all the time, but a year ago I never would have thought that the United States would be in the position that it is to possibly win as many medals as they are. In the men’s event you have Nathan Chen, who’s the likely favorite for the U.S. men and, more than likely, barring disaster, will be on the Olympic team. He’s doing things that are so outrageous, it’s very X Games, the sort of jumps that he’s doing.
He’s a bigger, broader, more athletic … Is there something that is associated only with him?
JW: He’s doing five or six quadruple jumps in a long program, which … He really revolutionized men’s skating last year doing many, many quads in a free program, and he’s continued that. Everybody’s trying to catch up in that way. So the men, there’s Nathan Chen is a possibility to make a podium at the Olympic Games.
In ice dancing, there’s skaters Maia and Alex Shibutani possibly getting on that podium. There’s a very strong team from France and a very strong team from Canada that they have to overtake, but they’re looking very strong as possible bronze medal favorites. Then the team event for the United States could be very important where they could actually win the gold medal as a team. Then you have skater Ashley Wagner that could possibly make the ladies’ team for the U.S. and maybe sneak in for a bronze. The ladies’ and pairs are where the U.S. is weak at the moment, but looking at men, ice dancing and team is where the U.S. is strongest.
Is there an Olympic sport you guys want to see that’s not skating? That you might sneak out to see when you’re not in the booth?
JW: Well, I mean, I’m …
You’re a curling guy?
JW: I’m not the biggest fan of curling, I feel like I would love to see skeleton happening. You know, the face-first luge.
The death wish.
JW: I just want to see what those people look like in real life.
TL: I mean, I love hockey. I love going to … Johnny and I really didn’t get the chance in Sochi.
JW: We’re anti-social.
TL: We were in the booth, literally from start to finish. Maybe we’ll have a few days where we will go and see an event. To be at an Olympic Games, there’s just something so exciting and invigorating about stepping into an Olympic arena, that we have to go see something, whatever it is. Whether it’s curling or skeleton, or hockey.
JW: Tara and I, I’m excited, I’ve been to South Korea many times. I’m excited to show Tara Seoul and take her shopping. I mean, the way we shop is definitely an Olympic sport.
That’s going to be an Instagram feed. Have you guys seen the Tonya Harding movie? There’s a lot of buzz about that.
No. Are we going to discuss the Tonya Harding movie in February? Or are we going to get … pretend it didn’t happen?
JW: I mean, I’ve heard that Allison Janney is most likely … has done an incredible job with her role as Tonya’s mother. I think that’s awesome. And I love Sebastian Stan and Margot Robbie, who are both in the film. We’ve seen the previews, but I mean honestly, we don’t have a lot of time to see movies, first of all. Second of all, you know, it’s a weird thing in our world, that whole situation.
I mean Nancy Kerrigan’s a friend of mine and I’ve never met Tonya Harding. It’s fascinating there’s some … a skater from our world that I haven’t met. I don’t know … like even when I saw “Black Swan,” I was like, and what? It was so much less than what it actually … that life is all about. I kind of didn’t laugh, but they marketed it as a thriller. I thought, you know what? I’ve done a whole lot worse than anybody in that whole “Black Swan” movie. You know it will be a fluffy over-dramatized version of what …
There’s a decent chance that for a lot of people … first of all, there’s a whole generation that doesn’t even know that story anymore, or a couple of generations. That may be the thing that’s in people’s minds when they start watching you guys in February. They may have heard of this movie, or the story may have been kicked up again and they may be thinking about it, whether or not you guys want to talk about it.
JW: Well, Tonya and Nancy are definitely how me, a small kid in rural Pennsylvania, really figure skating got on my radar. I didn’t start skating till I was 12 and I can say that the first real exposure I had to the skating world was through Tonya and Nancy. Skating boomed and it was possible for skaters to sell out buildings in hundreds of cities around the country, and skating definitely benefited a lot off of that tragic moment for Nancy Kerrigan. It was so dramatic and so soap opera and it was wild. Definitely skating owes a big debt to Nancy Kerrigan for the late ’90s and early 2000s.
I want people, especially that listen to Tara and my commentary to understand, and believe in the current skaters and to love and follow what’s going on now. It is very exciting and we don’t always have to be nostalgic to get a rise out of things.
Onward. Let’s look forward to February then. Johnny, Tara, thank you for your time. I appreciate it.
JW: Thank you.
TL: Of course, thank you.
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