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Sunday, May 19, 2024

Yorktown Skaters Learn from 2-Time Olympian Johnny Weir

2006 and 2010 Olympian Johnny Weir taught skating lessons to Yorktown and Chesapeake skaters over the weekend. (Tidewater Figure Skating Club)

YORKTOWN — Skaters from both the Chilled Ponds Yorktown and Chilled Ponds Chesapeake were in for a treat on May 4 when the Tidewater Figure Skating Club hosted two-time Olympian Johnny Weir to teach a special figure skating seminar.

After retiring from the public figure skating world, Weir created the Johnny Weir Skating Academy. He and two additional coaches, Megan Williams-Stewart and Mykhailo “Misha” Medunytsia, travel around the country teaching skating seminars to kids of all ages.

Skaters from Chilled Ponds Chesapeake and Chilled Ponds Yorktown had the chance to skate with Olympian Johnny Weir. (Tidewater Figure Skating Club)

During the seminar, skaters had the chance to be on the ice with Weir, Williams-Stewart, and Medunytsia and learn skills and tricks that Weir himself used in competition. Skaters were also able to participate in a Q&A session after the event, as well as have memorabilia signed and photos taken with Weir.

Yorktown skaters Jaelyn Farnum, Sadie Graham, and Nicholas Frass were on hand for the seminar. The three noted the importance of learning from someone who had been where they hope to be one day.

“I’m really grateful for the opportunity to get to skate with him. He was really fun,” Farnum said. “This really meant a lot to me, to be able to be on the same ice as an Olympian. He was really engaged whenever he was teaching us. It was very technique-based where we worked more on power and edge skills,” Graham said. “The other Olympians I’ve skated with were always focusing just on certain people and not the whole group. He really made it a point to pay attention to every skater and it felt good,” Frass said.

Jaelyn Farnum, Nicholas Frass, and Sadie Graham were all smiles after skating with two-time Olympian Johnny Weir. (Megan Roche/WYDaily)

Weir, a two-time Olympian and three-time U.S. National Champion, began skating when he was 12 years old.

“I achieved things that a lot of these kids want to achieve. Having somebody there that has seen it, that has done it, that’s been through it, is always an inspirational moment. When you meet a hero of yours or someone who has achieved a lot in your craft, it’s really important. Growing up, I had the opportunity to meet a lot of people because I trained in a place that had a lot of high level skaters and it always inspired me. We often go to rinks that don’t have a high-level training program because we want these kids to be inspired by our journey and how skating has taken us in so many different directions,” Weir said.

Representing the United States, Weir first skated in the 2006 Winter Olympic Games in Torino, Italy. Placing fifth, Weir began working towards contending for a second Olympic Games appearance. In 2010, Weir made his second Olympic team and placed sixth overall at the 2010 Olympic Games in Vancouver, Canada.

“When I look back at my skating career, it isn’t so much that I was at the Olympics, it was the fact that I had overcome a lot. I failed in my first Olympics to skate well and win a medal for the U.S., and then I went through a lot of ups and downs trying to make it back to another Olympic Games. You prepare your whole life for six minutes in front of the whole world. In the true, hardcore athletic side of things, there can only be one Olympic champion and that is sports, there is one winner,” Weir said.

Skaters also got to participate in a Q&A with all three coaches after the seminar. (Tidewater Figure Skating Club)

He retired from performing in public in May 2023. Weir now serves as a figure skating commentator alongside Tara Lipinski and Terry Gannon on NBC.

For Tidewater Figure Skating Club, the seminar couldn’t have gone any better.

“Johnny, Megan, and Misha were so giving and kind sharing expertise on and off the ice. It was fascinating, as well as occasionally funny to hear all three share stories about their competitive careers. As a club it means the world to us to be able to provide our skaters, families and guests with these enriching experiences that build our athletes’ confidence, skills and sense of community,” Jill Stewart, Tidewater Figure Skating Club Director, said.

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