If you liked tuning into Tara Lipinski and Johnny Weir during the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games, you’re in luck.
The duo, along with play-by-play commentator Terry Gannon, has been named NBC Sports Group’s lead figure skating broadcast team. Lipinski and Weir, who became breakout stars by delivering bold commentary in addition to showcasing eccentric outfits, will be in the booth for Skate America this weekend as well as for the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games.
Lipinski, the 1998 Olympic champion, and Weir, a three-time U.S. champion and two-time Olympian, became hits by being — in the words of Jim Bell, the executive producer of NBC Olympics — “authentic, entertaining, fresh and fun.”
The secret to their success is that they have been honest in their remarks in addition to being entertaining. Not only can they tell fans the difference between an Axel and a Lutz, but they also can opine on the latest trend in shoes. Weir showed off a black and white pair on the “Today” show this morning in fact.
“We want to be real about what the sport is,” Lipinski said. “If you call it as you see it, that’s what the audience likes.”
“I cherish the opportunity to bring figure skating to the people,” Weir added. “You have to be real, and you have to be authentic.”
You also never know what might come out of their mouths.
When asked about their own broadcasting role models, Lipinski said she looked up to Dick Button and Scott Hamilton, both of whom are Olympic champions and longtime figure skating commentators.
Weir then chimed in, saying, “For me, it’s 100 percent Kim Kardashian.”
Truth be told, as skaters, the two did take a lot of what was said about them by Button and Hamilton very seriously, and they recognize the responsibility they have to the skaters they are talking about now.
“For me,” Lipinski said, “with Dick Button, I will be forever scarred for my layback. There was not one that he ever said he was OK.”
“(The broadcasters) have such an impact on the sport,” Lipinski said. “It’s almost like they’re your parents. You want to make them proud.”
Weir recalled Button likening him to a “gazelle” on the air, adding that he would really have to “out-do the doozies” that have been said about him.
“I would constantly take their criticism to heart,” Weir said.
Hamilton, meanwhile, had been a part of NBC’s lead team since 2002 and Bell said there will be plenty of work for the 1984 Olympic gold medalist. Bell predicted Hamilton would be part of Olympic coverage on a variety of NBC programming.
“We’ll be able to keep Scott very busy,” Bell said.
NBC was so thrilled with the public’s reaction to Lipinski and Weir in Sochi that the two were asked to be part of the network’s coverage of the Kentucky Derby. Although Lipinski said they were kind of “fish out of water” at the prestigious horse race, they enjoyed working a non-skating event. The two hope to do other such events but did not reveal any future plans.
“Certainly we have grand plans and big dreams,” Weir said. “But first things first, it’s figure skating.”
Figure skater and Olympian Johnny Weir joins HuffPost Live and talks with Nancy about his special relationship with Tara Lipinski.
Posted by Angie on Wednesday, October 22, 2014
Posted by Angie on Wednesday, October 22, 2014
Tara Lipinski and Johnny Weir are headed to Pyeongchang, South Korea!
Lipinski and Weir have officially been named as the announcers for NBC’s figure skating coverage at the 2018 Winter Olympics. NBC made the official announcement Wednesday morning during a segment on the Today Show.
The duo became an overnight sensation earlier this year for their back-and-forth banter as the announcers at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. The duo also became a sensation onscreen and on social media for their unique fashion choices throughout the games.
For Weir, returning as an announcer for the 2018 figure skating events is an dream come true:
“We really were just so excited for Sochi and how things went for us. Getting to enjoy our sport every day and bringing people in America back to our sport with us — and now that we have this amazing opportunity, we’re just completely honored and so proud.”
“I am so excited — I cannot wait for this adventure to start. Sochi was so much fun, and I’m just honored to be part of the team now.”
The duo will kick off their official duties this Sunday in Chicago as the announcers for NBC’s coverage of Skate America.
Are you happy to hear that Tara Lipinski and Johnny Weir will return as announcers for the 2018 Winter Olympics?
Johnny Weir and Tara Lipinski have been named NBC Sports Group’s new lead figure skating broadcast team, along with play-by-play announcer Terry Gannon, for the 2018 Winter Olympic Games. NBC announced the news Wednesday morning during Today.
"I am so honored to be a part of the NBC family and I hope to bring figure skating and the Olympics into America’s living rooms for many years to come," Weir said in a statement. "I could not have asked for a better first experience than in Sochi and along with my broadcast partners Tara and Terry. I cannot wait to start a fresh new era of commentary and analysis that will entertain and inform. I love my sport and I can’t wait to go on more Olympic journeys!"
"NBC gave us an opportunity of a lifetime in Sochi, I could not be more excited to continue this journey," said Lipinski. "My goal is to continue educating, entertaining and bringing the incredible sport of figure skating to a new generation of fans. It is an honor to be a part of an Olympics. I cannot wait to begin and I'm lucky to have my talented co-pilots Johnny and Terry by my side. Being a part of this is a combination of all of my favorite things and I look forward to the adventures in the years ahead."
"I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to cover skating at the highest level on NBC with partners that are informative, unpredictable and uniquely stylish. ... Time to upgrade my wardrobe," Gannon said.
Three-time U.S. figure skating champion Weir and 1998 Olympic gold medalist Lipinski noted that they had no idea their back-and-forth, which drew praise onscreen and on Instagram, would take off the way it has. Weir, Lipinski and Gannon will make their fall debut in Chicago on Sunday during the NBC broadcast of the 2014 Hilton HHonors Skate America, alongside analyst Tracy Wilson and reporter Andrea Joyce.
"Johnny, Tara and Terry were breakout TV stars in Sochi," said Jim Bell, executive producer of NBC Olympics. "We’re excited that viewers will be treated to this team’s informative and entertaining commentary for many years to come, all while looking fabulous."
Weir, Lipinski and Gannon replace NBC Sports Group’s previous lead figure skating team of Tom Hammond, Scott Hamilton and Sandra Bezic. Olympic gold medalist Hamilton will remain a special NBC contributor for figure skating events. He has provided commentary for NBC Sports Group since 2002.
"We thank Tom, Scott and Sandra for their many years of excellent work on Olympic figure skating. They set the bar high," Bell said. "We are looking forward to hearing more of Tom’s signature track and field calls at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio."
Johnny Weir and Tara Lipinski, whose critical, entertaining and fashion-conscious figure skating analysis on NBCSN drew praise during the Winter Olympics in Sochi, have earned an expected promotion to the lead team for the sport on the NBC Sports Group.
NBC will announce the change Wednesday.
“Tara and Johnny are a very authentic team,” Jim Bell, the executive producer of NBC Olympics, said in a telephone interview. “They’re fun and fresh. They’re not afraid to offer strong opinions and come back and take a selfie on Instagram.”
He added: “You look for their kind of chemistry. You can’t make it up.”
Lipinski and Weir will be the prime-time voices of figure skating for NBC during the 2018 Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, but will start in their new roles during the NBC broadcast of Skate America on Sunday.
They are replacing Scott Hamilton, the 1984 Olympic men’s ice skating gold medalist, who began calling the Winter Olympics for CBS in 1992, and Sandra Bezic.
Tracy Wilson, NBC’s ice dancing and scoring analyst, survived the cast changes.
Terry Gannon, who hosted the NBCSN coverage with Lipinski and Weir, will take over for Tom Hammond. Hamilton will become a special correspondent for major figure skating events, like the Winter Olympics and the United States nationals.
Weir, Lipinski and Gannon were on the air from Sochi for hours at a time on NBCSN, calling every figure skating routine except for those in the new team competition. The NBC crew called far fewer routines for the prime-time evening broadcast.
Since then, NBC has been grooming Weir and Lipinski for wider roles within Comcast, its parent company. They were fashion commentators for the Kentucky Derby and Access Hollywood’s Academy Awards coverage.
On Wednesday, Weir and Lipinski will appear on NBC’s “Today” show.
Weir and Lipinski’s ascent was first reported last month when Hamilton, Bezic and Hammond told The Chicago Tribune of the changes.
Bell said he had not decided if another team would be formed to call figure skating on NBCSN. He did not rule out double duty for Lipinski and Weir, who could be calling figure skating for NBC until its Olympics rights deals end in 2032.
The network — and home to the U.S. broadcast of the Olympics — promoted Team USA veterans Johnny Weir and Tara Lipinski to its No. 1 figure skating broadcast team, the Chicago Tribune reports.
The duo, who are known just as much for their wild fashion senses as they are for the expertise, drew critical acclaim and ratings when they became secondary figure skating analysts during the Sochi Olympics in February. Their time on-screen went so well that they earned a special stint as Kentucky Derby correspondents, charged with talking about people’s outfits. (It was terrific.)
Weir, a three-time U.S. champion, and Lipinski, the 1998 Olympic champion, will join Terry Gannon in prime time.
While this is great news for all of the above, it seems to signify an end of an era.
Scott Hamilton, the 1984 Olympic champion who held the job for four Olympic cycles with NBC and an additional three with CBS, confirmed he will no longer be broadcasting with NBC’s figure skating team.
“I was blessed to have that seat for seven Olympics,” Hamilton said in a text message to the Chicago Tribune. “I always had the best interests of skating and the skaters at heart. I never wanted it to be about me, and I still don’t. I wish them great success.”
Sandra Bezic, Hamilton’s broadcasting parter also confirmed her departure from the primary team on Twitter.
"Wishing @Tara_Lipinski @JohnnyGWeir the very best success covering figs for @NBCSports. So grateful to have had the honour for 24 years…"
— Sandra Bezic (@SandraBezic) September 18, 2014
"..Working with the @NBCSports @NBCOlympics family, Tom Hammond @ScottHamilton84,Tracy Wilson & @andijoyce has been a treasured experience.
— Sandra Bezic (@SandraBezic) September 18, 2014
Bezic, who became quite well known as a choreographer for other Olympic figure skaters after ending her own skating career, has not indicated what she will do next.
The final member of the old team, Tom Hammond, a play-by-play and color commentator on multiple sports for NBC, seemed less sure about his stance with the network, texting only, “I think my figs days are over,” to the Chicago Tribune.
Tara made an appearance on Access Hollywood today to discuss being a guest judge on 'So You Think You Can Dance', airing tonight at 8pm.
Posted by Angie on Thursday, August 28, 2014
Tara co-hosted KTLA5's Morning News today.
Posted by Angie on Wednesday, August 27, 2014
Paparazzi Photos: "Tara Lipinski arrives at Los Angeles International Airport on March 26."
Posted by Angie on Monday, August 11, 2014
Tara co-hosted the Teen Choice awards online pre-show yesterday. Photos have been added to the gallery.
Posted by Angie on Saturday, August 8, 2014
Paparazzi photos: "Former Olympian gold medalist and Olympic commentator Tara Lipinski swaps out her high heels for something a little more comfortable in the middle of the street on a recent lunch."
Posted by Angie on saturday, July 12, 2014
Stay tuned for a large amount of updates. Finally resolved some computer issues.
Posted by Angie on Saturday, July 11, 2014
Kiawah Island is getting some star-studded exposure on social media this week thanks to two athletes-turned-broadcasters who are posting pics from the beach and golf course.
Olympic gold medalist figure skater Tara Lipinski, who owns a house on Kiawah, and former quarterback Danny Kanell, here on vacation, have both been posting photographs on Instagram and Twitter.
Lipinski, who has over 111,000 followers on Instagram and 63,000 on Twitter, has posted pics from The Battery, the beach and at the acclaimed Ocean Course.
"Charleston will always have my heart," she posted with an Instagram picture of her beneath the live oaks at White Point Garden.
Kanell, the former Florida State Seminole quarterback who was drafted by the New York Giants, has 139,000 followers on Twitter and 1,500 on Instagram. "... the course kicked my butt" he posted from the Ocean Course.
Lipinski and fellow skating champion Johnny Weir recently received rave reviews for their skating and fashion commentary on NBC during the Olympic games in Sochi.
Kanell, who retired from the NFL 10 years ago, is an analyst for ESPN.
What does the season after the Olympics bring for the world of figure skating? For Tara Lipinski, it brings plenty of mystery -- and with that, plenty of intrigue.
"I feel like after an Olympic year, everything starts over," the 1998 Olympic champion said. "I think we might see names that we didn't expect to see on the podium, and for those skaters, it's that moment that changes the path for the next four years. I feel like this season may be a bumpy one."
But bumpy doesn't necessarily mean bad. Sochi gold medalists Adelina Sotnikova, Yuzuru Hanyu, and Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov are still in the mix. With household names in ladies and dance sitting the season out (or bidding adieu for good), the road to Pyeongchang, site of the 2018 Olympic Winter Games, is as open as an empty ice rink.
"I don't want the skaters to think about the next Olympics," Lipinski advised. "You have to have a certain strategy. They know what is too risky. I would say push for the risky-slash-uncomfortable. I know we have four more seasons, but it goes by really quickly."
It also seems like things have gone quickly since Sochi, the world championships and touring season. Next month, U.S. skaters will gather at the annual Champs Camp in Colorado Springs, Colorado, to showcase their new programs.
There is plenty of change in the air for Team USA: ladies, men and pairs can now use lyrics in their music (but who will take that chance?); the dance teams are out to prove themselves in the absence of Meryl Davis and Charlie White; and a game of "musical partners" has left the pairs crown up for grabs.
But some things haven't changed. Jeremy Abbott will skate this year after saying throughout much of the 2013-14 campaign that he would retire at season's end. The four-time U.S. champion was 12th in Sochi and fifth at worlds.
"When I watched Jeremy in Sochi, I just thought, 'How can this happen?'" Lipinski said of the veteran's infamous fall in the short program. "He's had some incredible 'Whoa!' moments in his career. But when he fell at the Olympics, something changed in him. I think that was a turning point. It doesn't matter if he's coming back to win a Grand Prix or worlds -- his journey is inspirational."
Abbott will debut at Skate America in October alongside Jason Brown, who Lipinski says she hopes will ramp up his technical arsenal (particularly by adding a quad) and, thus, make himself a serious threat.
The NBC Sports commentator believes this season will be a pivotal one for the U.S. ladies. New storylines will develop, shoving the last Olympic cycle further into the past. Case in point: Gracie Gold and Mirai Nagasu got the nod for Skate America.
"I'm not speaking for Mirai, but the Olympics and Skate America are two very different things," Lipinski said of the decision to send Nagasu to the first Grand Prix of the season. "But, at the same time, it is a fresh start for her to put everything that happened last season behind her. Hopefully, she's training really hard and she's going to prove to everyone that she deserves a chance to be respected."
Gold openly stated after Sochi that she'll go for the medal that matches her name in 2018, when she'll be a stately 22 years old. "Gracie had a great showing at the Olympics, but she wasn't perfect," Lipinski explained. "I think that Gracie is one of our most talented skaters, so I'd love to see her do her best and win everything. This could be her time to begin to rise. I think she should not only make the podium [in South Korea], but her goal is going to be to try and win it."
And what of Ashley Wagner, the two-time U.S. champion who is now 23? "I felt like the vibe with Ashley was that she was going to move on," Lipinski admitted. "I think it's going to be tough. The technical level that we're going to see is going to be insane. It's just going to get harder and harder with these girls continuing to raise the level. These little Russians like [Elena] Radionova -- there is a full group of them that are waiting to take center stage."
Wagner was assigned to Skate Canada and Trophée Eric Bompard in Paris. She is the two-time defending champion in France but hasn't skated in Canada since 2011, when she won bronze.
Lipinski sees plenty of opportunity for the U.S. in both dance and pairs, the former having more international cache.
"We really had this eight-year build-up to [Meryl and Charlie's] crowning," Lipinski explained. "It's time for new energy. This first season (after the Olympics) is crucial: Dance goes in a pecking order. We're in a slightly more open year. Someone has their chance to set the tone as, 'Oh, this is the next team to watch.'"
In pairs, Marissa Castelli and Simon Shnapir, the two-time U.S. champions who were ninth in Sochi, are no longer skating together, opting for new partners for the next Olympic cycle. "I was disappointed to hear about Marissa and Simon," Lipinski said. "I thought they were very exciting. They had a dynamic energy. Watching them at the Olympics, I thought they had more to show us after last season, so I'm sad about that."
Lipinski expressed excitement over Russian Olympic champs Volosozhar and Trankov continuing when many thought they might step away from the sport. The Sochi gold medalists are also due to compete at Skate America, which they've won each of the last two years.
"I wouldn't have thought that Tatiana and Max were going to keep skating," Lipinski said. "It's such a personal decision. Watching a pair team that is so accomplished that doesn't need to stay around, it's so exciting. We thought we've seen their best, but now it's like, 'What are we going to see now?'"
Lipinski said she appreciates the continued dedication of those skaters who are getting up there in age -- like the 29-year-old Abbott or Adam Rippon, now 24 -- but are still soldiering on.
"You look at someone like Jeremy or Adam, and I respect them [for continuing]," Lipinski said. "Obviously, you're out there to win medals, but their commitment shows that it means so much more. These skaters decide to sacrifice their lives for another year to be in that rink training and laying everything out on the line. It's a personal issue between you and the ice. To me, that's the beauty of this sport and how connected we are to it. It's such a powerful thing."
And what about the powerful move of the ISU to allow lyrics in all disciplines except dance this season? "Personally? I think I would have wanted to skate to lyrics right away," Lipinski said, laughing. "I would have jumped at the opportunity. Lyrics can be quite moving. I feel like everyone is in the same boat this season, though: They don't want to be the first person to try and skate with lyrics."
Lipinski continues her skating work this fall as a TV commentator, and said things have been crazy, "in a good way," with her work otherwise. She and fellow analyst Johnny Weir have "a lot of stuff in the works that we can't really talk about yet." She said experiences like appearing on Entertainment Tonight and So You Think You Can Dance were part of her "new journey."
But mostly, Lipinski is looking forward to more skating in the season to come. "Johnny and I were talking the other day, and we're excited about the new season," she said. "Obviously, it's not on the scale of the Olympics, but we love being part of it. This is the season when it's crucial to spice something up. It's always interesting after an Olympic year. It'll be good to see what goes down."