At the age of 28, Johnny Weir — a three-time US champion, two-time Olympian, and World medalist — is one of the superstars of figure skating and an emerging pop-culture icon. Fans all over the globe love his elegant yet edgy style both on and off the ice, and the delicious unpredictability of what he’ll say — or wear, or do — next.
Born July 2, 1984, in Coatesville, Pennsylvania, Johnny did not start skating until the relatively late age of 12, when he taught himself how to skate on the frozen Amish-country cornfields behind his home. Just four years later, he won the gold medal at the 2001 World Junior Championships.
Remarkably, Johnny claimed his first senior US national championship in 2004, and successfully defended his title in 2005. In 2006, Johnny captured his third consecutive national championship, earning a spot on the US Olympic team. At his very first Olympic Games in Torino, Italy, Johnny placed an impressive second in the short program, and finished fifth overall. Johnny evolved as a media darling during the Games, and was described by many journalists as “the best quote at the Olympics.”
Johnny went on to win the bronze medal at the 2008 World Championships — the only medal won by a member of Team USA at that competition — as well as US Figure Skating’s 2008 Readers’ Choice Award for Skater of the Year (Michelle Kwan Trophy). Off the ice, he starred in Retribution Media’s documentary, Pop Star on Ice, which won the 2009 QFest Philadelphia Viewer’s Choice Award.
In 2010, Johnny made the US Olympic team for the second time and represented his country in the Olympic Games in Vancouver, once again capturing the hearts of millions. Post-Olympics, Johnny has put his fame to good use, balancing performances in skating shows around the world with appearances at various benefits and charity events across the US. He is the star of his own reality series, Be Good Johnny Weir on the Logo Network, for which he won the 2010 NewNowNext Award for Most Addictive Reality Star. Also in 2010, he again earned the Readers’ Choice Award for Skater of the Year, making Johnny the only skater other than Michelle Kwan to win this trophy more than once.
In fall 2010, Johnny was honored by the Human Rights Campaign with its Visibility Award. In his introduction of Johnny, HRC spokesman Dr. Marty Lieberman explained that the award is given to “individuals who are living open and honest lives. Well, Johnny is doing much more than that. He is a force of nature, with all of his fabulousness swirling around him like the eye of a storm. … Johnny has given courage to all the little boys and girls out there who want to pursue [their] dreams … [T]hank you, Johnny Weir, for making the world a more welcoming place, and for your brave determination to be who you are.”
I’m so, so honored to be here and privileged to be the grand marshal. It’s an incredible, incredible experience. I’m here representing my community and so many beautiful people that I’m proud of. I’m here representing my family for supporting me the entire way through my youth, my career as an Olympian, no matter what. [I'm] representing our brothers and sisters all over the world — and even in America — who are still discriminated against, still don’t have equal rights as Americans. I’m here with love for everybody. I’m so, so proud.
Johnny was the honoree at Ice Theatre of New York’s “Dare to Be Different” Benefit Gala and Performance in October 2011, joining a prestigious list of past honorees that includes Dorothy Hamill and Dick Button. In an interview with Johnny published in the Ice Theatre’s journal for the evening, writer Edward Z. Epstein noted, ”While he ‘dares to be different,’ he has, in fact, achieved a higher goal: he dares to be himself.”
On December 30, 2011, Johnny married Georgetown Law graduate Victor Voronov in a civil ceremony at the New York City Courthouse. The couple has taken the new surname Weir-Voronov, but professionally, Johnny will continue to be known as Johnny Weir.
During a press conference on January19, 2012, Johnny announced his return to competitive figure skating. In a statement issued on his website, he wrote:
I hope to bring awareness to my sport and the amazing talents within it through my return to competition, and I hope to succeed as an athlete and an artist.
I can’t wait to go on this journey with my fans.
In September 2012, Johnny represented the United States as a Goodwill Sporting Ambassador to Japan on behalf of Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, in support of her view that “gay rights are human rights,” according to State Magazine. The U.S. Consulate in Fukuoka, Japan, invited Johnny and three-time Japan champion Miki Ando to conduct an ice-skating clinic for more than 100 young skaters, and to meet with local LGBT youth and leaders.
One participant said, “It was like a dream to get to talk to Johnny Weir, and it was the first time I ever spoke about LGBT issues with a mixed audience.”
Johnny’s home state of Pennsylvania honored him in February 2013 with Philadelphia’s first-ever annual “Johnny Weir WinterPride Award,” which reads in part:
Johnny Weir has led a commanding athletic and artistic career on ice. … Johnny also lends his voice and prominence to a range of philanthropic and charitable organizations… and is an advocate for many more worthy endeavors and causes. … [W]ith this Tribute, [we] commend him for his standing as a national role model and for the pride that he embodies.
Most recently, the Delaware Valley Legacy Fund selected Johnny to receive its National Hero Award for 2013, describing him as “a passionate force in the community, raising awareness and educating the public about a multitude of gay issues.”
Brilliantly talented, unabashedly outspoken, always entertaining, and known around the world as the “people’s skater,” Johnny continues to win the hearts of new fans with every appearance.