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In December 2016, Johnny Weir was one of the many, many people who got hooked on Yuri on Ice . Fans flocked to the series for its combination of athletics anime storytelling and queer romance, but Weir had another reason to be excited. He’s a world-famous figure skater, and without recognise it, he’d become a kind of muse for the show.
Weir is a three-time U.S. champion and rivalled twice at the Winter Olympics, known for his extravagant fashion appreciation and former rivalry with fellow U.S. skater Evan Lysacek. Yuri on Ice onlookers noticed several similarities between Weir and the show’s lead characters, including homages to his attires and signature flower crown. Alongside reigning world champ Evgenia Medvedeva, he quickly became one of the highest-profile figure skaters to join Yuri on Ice fandom. He even performed an exerpt from one of the routines in the present, something you can really merely do if you’ve had professional training.
Now, Weir is about to visit his first anime convention. He’s scheduled to attend the Crunchyroll Expo in Santa Clara this weekend, taking part in panels and meeting fans. In honor of his unexpected induction into anime fandom, we called him up for a chat about his relationship with Yuri on Ice .
It must have been a strange experience to find out you partly inspired such a popular demonstrate. What was your initial reaction ? strong>
So, I don’t follow anime or that world. It’s not that I’m not a fan, but I have very little time and, you know, I watch Game of Thrones when I have time to watch something. For me, when people started tweeting about Yuri on Ice I had no idea what it genuinely was. I had to ask my web team to help me figure it out.
I was hooked instantly. I was going to try to limit myself to one episode a week, and then very soon I observed myself binge-watching it. To appreciate my figure skating world and so many of "peoples lives" instants, whether it’s the rose crown, or switching coaches, or being in specific realms around the world ... it was amazing to ensure the attention to detail that the creators put into the show.
A lot of skaters have said the show is surprisingly accurate. What kind of details did you notice as somebody very well known the lifestyle? I remember you tweeting that got a couple of characters reminded you of people in real life . strong>
Of course there are parts of Yuri and parts of Victor Nikiforov that remind me of me and my job, and almost seem to be taken directly out of my scrapbook, so to speak. That’s improbably humbling, but then to read other skaters that have similar techniques to skaters I've competed against ... Obvious parallels between Victor Nikiforov and Evgeni Plushenko, who’s a dear friend of mine.
Even simply the detailed hotels. There’s the hotel when they go to the Cup of Russia in Yuri on Ice , and we stay in that inn every time we perform at this particular arena. The reality that they were able to illustrate it so beautifully and so accurately is really amazing, for figure skaters who are in a sport that isn't appreciated on a daily basis like American football game. When you’re in a niche athletic, to realize someone appreciate your world so clearly, it’s very inspiring.
As far as the actual skating is concerned, and the scoring, it’s very much on parallel with what’s going on in men’s figure skating at the moment. The technological factors that the anime performed ... I knew immediately that the specific characteristics were choreographed by Kenji Miyamoto, who I’ve worked with on choreography. It’s only truly amazing and special that there’s an anime that realizes figure skating and the figure skating world so much!
Is there any specific character that you identify with, or are you kind of a Yuri and a Victor ? strong>
I would say that I’m a combination of Yuri and Victor, but I think of the two, the one I would associate myself with the most is Yuri. I signify, Victor wore the rose crown, which is kind of a signature instant in my life, after I competed at the 2010 Olympics, my dear friend Machiko gave me a crown of roses. She’s been my devotee and followed my career for a very long time and over the years we’ve become pals. As soon as I was finished my long program she gave me those climbs and I sat in the kiss-and-cry region, and it was the picture of my Olympic games. It was the moment that I left my heart on the ice in front of the entire world, and we capped it off with not a amber medal but a crown of roses.
So that is very special to me to appreciate Victor in the series wear a rose crown, but who I identify more with is Yuri. There are lots of parallels where at 23 years old we both switched coaches, we both had the Cup of China and the Cup of Russia in our first season with a new coach-and-four, and both qualified for the Grand Prix final. And I definitely was just thinking about giving up the sport a few cases times in my job before I constructed that big move to my final tutor, when I was actually at the lowest phase in my job and genuinely wanted to hang up my skates. I changed coaches because I required that to reinvigorate me in the sport.
One of my favorite aspects of the depict was the costumes. It felt like a very accurate portrait, both of the really beautiful, graceful dress you see in figure skating, and also the more lighthearted and silly ones. Did you have a favorite dres in the display ? strong>
Probably the ones that were inspired by me! There’s one costume that Victor Nikiforov wears where he’s get fishnets in one arm and the rest of it is feathers and he’s very birdlike, and that plainly is a reference to my 2006 olympic games short program attire where I dressed as a swan. I had a fishnet limb and a ruby-red glove as the mouth of the swan, and the rest of me was full feathers. That has a very special place in my heart and when I read it on Yuri on Ice it was just like," I’m gonna yell !"
The short program clothing that Yuri wears is very similar to a costume I wore when I performed to" Poker Face ." My" Poker Face" performance was a big hit in skating and even in pop culture when I was doing it, because Lady Gaga was just sort of coming up in renown around the world, and I was performing it in Japan, in Korea, in countries where figure skating is very popular. It was a very successful program for me, so to be noted that and to see that costume also portrayed in Yuri’s short program ... I desired those two, that’s for sure.
You kind of have a cult following of your own, but it kind of feels like you and other figure skaters had your first experience of being devotees yourselves with Yuri on Ice . Has that pull you into anime fandom, and what are your expectancies for your first convention this weekend ? strong>
I definitely feel like I’m a part of the Yuri on Ice fandom, I definitely feel at home with everybody. Something I've learned about the anime community is how accepting they are of each other, and I think that’s a beautiful thing. That's a big part of why I wanted to be part of the Crunchyroll Expo. Because everyone is free to wing their freak flag, everyone is free to be themselves.
I think there are so few fandoms and so few areas of our world that really accepted everyone for who they are ... you are familiar with, there are characters in Yuri on Ice that I don't like because they remind me too much of people I don't like in my own life. But you are familiar with, there are people that are devotees of those characters, and the fact that they respect me and accept me saying that I don't like their character is just a signal in itself how accepting the community is.
I’m so excited to see how everyone dresses for this convention! I know cosplay is a big thing. I won't be dressing in clothing, but I'm excited to assure what people wear, what the hell is bring, whisker and makeup-wise. And just how interesting and diverse the fandom can be. Because it runs everywhere from an 8-year-old ice skater to part of my handling team, Jonathan, who’s a 20 -something straight dude from Texas. It goes all the lane up to my mother, at 60, who’s watched Yuri on Ice and genuinely responded to it. To have that wide of a fanbase is something amazing, and I'm just happy to revel in the exaltation that is anime with all the other fans.