How Johnny Weir can fix his season
Johnny Weir’s had a rough week. It seemed like he came to last weekend’s Rostelecom Cup with something to prove. After a tough time at the ‘09 Nationals, where he missed the podium for the first time in five years, Weir spent the past few months pondering whether or not to stay in and compete for one more Olympic season.
After a lot of soul searching and a pep talk from his mom, Weir decided to give competitive figure skating one more try. I’m sure he came to Moscow last week with the hopes of regaining his place as a force on the Grand Prix, but unfortunately the script he wrote for the event didn‘t run as planned.
It must have been disheartening for Weir to open his Olympic season with two mistakes in his short program and multiple stumbles in his long. Although his new programs looked strong, and he skated with more speed than we’ve seen from him in the past, I’m sure Weir’s fourth-place finish left him feeling very deflated.
At this point, Johnny Weir has two choices. He can either let last weekend’s disappointment overtake him and kill his confidence, or Weir can leave those performances in the past and fight through the rest of his season. We all know what option he wants to choose, but it’s going to take some work.
Here’s what he should do.
Weir needs to fix the technique on his triple axel. During the past few events, his triple axel has become increasingly dangerous. Instead of stepping up in to the jump with his hips square and making the jump travel in a straight line, his takeoff has become too circular. Because of this, it’s been hard for Weir to stay over his skating hip, his air position is too loose, and the landing is completely out of his control. Keep the jump linear. This will take some tweaking, and it may be frustrating for him to rework his technique, but it’s worth it. Weir’s axel has always been one of his stronger triples, and he’ll need to regain the consistency on it if he wants to contend for a fourth national title and a medal at his next Grand Prix event, the NHK Trophy.
That said, if Weir ends up missing his axel or any other jump in a future event, he can’t get bogged down in that mistake. If you miss something, move on. The jump is over. It’s in the past. Trying to make up for or getting stuck in a past mistake will cause a skater to lose their focus. It seemed like this happened to Weir last weekend in Moscow. He allowed the pops on the triple axels in his long to lead to a downward spiral. He has to learn from what happened there. Next time, Weir should focus on taking one thing at a time, and go into each element like it‘s the first jump in his program. He has to leave the past in the past.
Like missed jumps, this thinking can be applied to missed opportunities and past failures. Those events are done. Weir can’t make up for them by skating well in future events. It doesn’t work like that. Everyone has a bad season, but it seems like Weir’s become so focused on making up for last season that it’s started to weigh on him. It’s okay to have a few bad outings, and it‘s okay that he didn‘t make the world team last year. He’s an athlete; sometimes things don‘t go as planned. But what isn’t okay is carrying the shame from those failures with him to future events. Just move on.
Part of learning how to move on from the past is learning to keep things simple. It seems like Weir’s putting too much energy into designing his costumes and the stories he’s trying to tell on the ice, and it’s causing him to forget about what’s focal. He’s also been filming his reality show over the past few months, and I’m sure it’s fun, but it can present a distraction. Right now, that stuff doesn’t matter. For the next few months, Weir’s focus should be on landing his jumps and skating strong programs. That is what’s important.
Adding to this, trying to present a certain image or be the most outrageous on the ice isn‘t going to win it for him. What it comes down to is whether or not he delivers when it counts. If Weir can try to skate for himself, it will help with this. At the end of the day, the mistakes are on him. He can’t lose sight that this is his career, not anyone elses‘. Johnny’s the one who has to live with his performances and who gets up every morning and makes it to practice. Johnny’s the one who has to put in the work and push himself through those tough long program runthroughs. Not his fans, not his friends or parents, and not his coaches. He is responsible for his performances. Weir’s support system wants him to do well, but they’re not the ones out there competing. If he puts their expectations out of his mind and skates for himself, the pressure of competition won’t seem as daunting. Weir will only have to answer to himself.
After a rough skate it’s natural that Weir’s confidence would take a hit, but he has to learn to block out any doubts. Weir needs to skate with the conviction of someone who deserves to be on the podium. I’m sure last weekend’s event was tough, but he has to brush himself off and get back to work. Johnny Weir is one of the most talented skaters in the world and has been doing these elements for the past ten years. With the amount of training he’s put in, he owes it to himself to come out fighting in Japan. Weir should spend the next two weeks working on his triple axel technique, forgetting about last weekend’s errors, and reminding himself that he is responsible for his skating. If he does that, he will be fine this season.
And remember, Johnny: It’s just figure skating.