The previous Olympians Tara Lipinski and Johnny Weir, who’ve for years supplied the cheery and chatty soundtrack to NBC’s protection of Olympic determine skating, took a starkly completely different tone when Kamila Valieva of Russia was on the ice within the girls’s single brief program on Tuesday.
The place they’d usually supply commentary on varied jumps and spins, or add insider particulars a couple of skater’s fashion and historical past, Lipinski and Weir as a substitute remained uncharacteristically quiet all through the efficiency by Valieva, the 15-year-old Russian skater on the middle of a doping scandal. Weir and Lipinski, former Olympians who’ve referred to as the game collectively for the reason that 2014 Sochi Video games, spoke solely twice, actually, and solely to notice sure strikes — and with none of the skilled evaluation or emotion that often accompanies their commentary.
“All I really feel like I can say is that was the brief program of Kamila Valieva on the Olympics,” Weir mentioned after her routine ended. Talking for the opposite rivals, Lipinski reminded viewers of Valieva’s constructive take a look at. “We should always not have seen this skate,” she mentioned.
“We’re so sorry it’s overshadowing your Olympics,” Weir chimed in.
Regardless of stumbling on her opening soar, a triple axel, Valieva went on to complete first within the brief program. She leads Russian teammate Anna Shcherbakova and a Japanese skater Kaori Sakamoto heading into Thursday’s free skate.
Main into the occasion, Weir and Lipinski described on NBC the feelings they have been experiencing, which struck a private tone for the 2 former skilled determine skaters who themselves have competed on the Olympic stage. In 1998, Lipinski gained the gold medal, beating the favorite, Michelle Kwan of the USA. Weir was a two-time Olympian.
Lipinski expressed disbelief as she watched Valieva heat up. “Seeing her on the Olympic ice proper now with all the pieces we found during the last week, I didn’t suppose it was going to occur,” Lipinski mentioned. “And once more I don’t suppose it must be occurring.”
Weir referred to as Valieva a “very vivid spot” in already gifted Russian staff, and mentioned that made the revelations of the previous week “a letdown.” The uncomfortable state of affairs, he mentioned, had pressured him to reassess his emotions in regards to the competitors.
“I really feel so uncomfortable as a skater and a skating fan having to commentate her efficiency just because she shouldn’t be capable of compete,” Weir mentioned. Lipinski agreed.
On social media and in interviews, Weir and Lipinski have criticized the choice to clear Valieva for competitors. However together with the frustration and outrage, Lipinski, who made her debut within the Olympics when she was 15, has additionally continued to notice that Valieva is only a youngster.
Weir posted a video on Twitter after the event, saying it was the “hardest occasion I’ve ever needed to cowl.”
“I need to thanks all for supporting the skaters that must be within the competitors whose life work is one the road,” Weir mentioned.