I'm not sure what happened, but somewhere over the course of the Olympics, I've become inexplicably fascinated with Johnny Weir. Maybe it's not so inexplicable "“ love him or hate him, you have to admit he's a rather intriguing character. Here are a few facts about the Russian-obsessed Pennsylvanian.
1. He was born in Coatesville, Pennsylvania, which is not too far from my old haunt of West Chester (and the home of QVC). The Weir family packed up and moved to Delaware when Johnny started skating at the age of 12 so he could be closer to his ice skating coach and preferred training rink.
2. The age of 12, by the way, is pretty late to start a career in ice skating and get to the level that Johnny is at. But he obviously had some natural talent "“ the kid landed an axel during his very first week of lessons.
3. Prior to that, Johnny was ice skating in cornfields. He received his first pair of ice skates for Christmas one year when the cornfields behind his house were totally iced over. Lacking a real rink to go to immediately, he laced up and started gliding amongst the frozen stalks outside instead.
4. If you're wondering why he asked for those ice skates to begin with, well, we have Oksana Baiul to thank. He watched her take gold at the 1994 Lillehammer Olympics and fell in love. But it wasn't just the obsession of a 10-year-old kid "“ when he grew up to become a talented ice skater, he actually hired the very coach that helped Oksana win her gold medal. He has also helped design costumes for Oksana.
5. He could have been an equestrian. Prior to receiving the ice skates and discovering his love for the sport, Johnny was a pretty involved rider. He and his parents knew he would have to choose one if he was going to seriously pursue either sport, and after much debate he obviously chose skating.
6. He's a Russophile and adores everything Russian. If you've been watching his Olympic events you've probably noticed that he speaks to his coach almost exclusively in Russian. He taught himself to speak and read the language.
7. Wondering about his sexuality? Keep wondering, because he'll never tell. "There are some things I keep sacred," he said once in an interview. "My middle name. Who I sleep with. And what kind of hand moisturizer I use."
8. This might not be too surprising, given his outlandish costumes, but Weir has a thing for fashion. He's good friends with Heatherette designer Richie Rich, who, coincidentally, used to be a figure skater.
9. Yeah, he's got the clothes, the reality show and the unusual music choices, but there's something else that makes him quite unique among figure skaters: he spins and jumps clockwise, whereas the majority of skaters do those things counterclockwise.
10. He loves Lady Gaga. You might have deciphered that from his "Pokerface" routine, but it goes beyond that. When he went to her concert, he sat in the front row with her mother (who happens to be a huge ice skating fan). And upon his arrival in the Olympic Village this year, he immediately put up a huge Gaga poster in his suite, saying that she "could watch over us." They seem made for each other, don't you think? Check out his Lady Gaga routine:
What do you think about Mr. Weir? Like him? Loathe him? Think he doesn't live up to the hype? Or do you just not care? Let us know in the comments, and have fun watching the Olympics this weekend!