Skater Johnny Weir out of Sochi
Johnny Weir won't be going to the Sochi Olympics.
At least, not as a skater.
U.S. Figure Skating confirmed Tuesday that the two-time Olympian did not register for the qualifiers for the national championships, where the Sochi team will be selected. The deadline to register was Sept. 1. The three-time U.S. champion can't get a free pass to nationals, either. According to U.S. Figure Skating rules, only skaters who placed in the top five at last year's nationals or who won medals at the most recent Olympics or world championships are eligible for byes.
Weir has not competed since withdrawing from last year's Rostelecom Cup, his first major event since finishing sixth at the Vancouver Olympics. He did not return a text message asking for comment.
Two other former U.S. champions, Rachael Flatt and Alissa Czisny, are registered for the qualifiers. Flatt, the 2010 U.S. champion, and Czisny, who won in 2009 and 2011, missed last year's nationals because of injuries. They would have to place in the top four at both their regional and sectional competitions to earn spots at the U.S. championships, which begin Jan. 9 in Boston.
Though Weir had raised the possibility of competing in Sochi in recent interviews, his decision to sit out the season and likely bring an end to his amateur career is not a surprise. He turned 29 in July, old by elite skating standards, and the sport has only gotten more demanding since the last Olympics. The top men in the world are now packing their free skates with three quads, and the time and training required to perfect those four-revolution jumps can take a toll.
Weir also is married and has a budding design career, and would be a natural fit for broadcasting. He's always been delightfully refreshing, on and off the ice, and is one of the few skaters who spoke his mind -- even when he knew it would get him in trouble with judges and federation officials. He could also be counted on for thoughtful answers on a variety of topics, and has been an outspoken and very public critic of Russia's new "anti-gay" law.
His colorfulness is part of his massive appeal, and he remains one of skating's most popular figures, particularly in Japan and Russia.
In addition to his three U.S. titles, Weir was the bronze medalist at the 2008 world championships.