KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - Johnny Weir and Tara Lipinski have something to say.
About figure skating? Probably. Fashion and dogs and their social life? Absolutely.
They are the Jimmy Fallon and Tina Fey of the figure skating commonwealth, a buddy-buddy relationship forged on making skating fun for the audience rather than a droll play-by-play of a free skate.
If only one could finish a thought.
“Our hope for us is we bring attention back to the sport in a new way,” Lipinski said during some downtime at the U.S. championships this week. “I bet there are a lot of people that are very nervous about the way we …”
“Conduct ourselves,” Weir interjected.
“Get on air,” Lipinski continued, “We are honest, we are truthful, and we want people to learn. We know what’s so great about skating. It’s annoying. I hate that everyone just watches football and soccer.”
“And baseball!” Weir said.
Figure skating has never had a turn at the plate as the national pastime and hasn’t really been in the national consciousness since the 1990s when Lipinski, Michelle Kwan and Kristi Yamaguchi were winning medals.
(Oh, and that baton whack to the knee).
But it may not be too late for a comeback!
The 34-year-old Lipinski and 32-year-old Weir are in the broadcast booth for nationals and called the action on Deanna Stellato’s return to the ice after a whopping 16-year hiatus. Stellato, 33, took a break from her job in the professional world to team with former Olympian Nathan Bartholomay in pairs.
Instead of tossing the mic to Lipinski, might it be more fun for Weir to actually toss Lipinski on a triple lutz?
“You might see us next year,” Lipinski said.
“The dance!” Weir said.
“Or the pairs event,” she said.
OK, slow down on those thoughts of the two turning the podium into their own gold-coated runway.
“We sit up there and watch all these youngins go out there and skate,” Lipinski says, “and I’ve been out there, and there’s never been moment that I think - I love competing and there’s always that moment where I’d love to compete. But not really.”
But when she watched Stellato skate …
“I turned to Johnny and I was like, I want to go out there!” Lipinski said.
Lipinski and Weir have done just fine together calling skating for NBC and its networks. But the tag team has also worked the Kentucky Derby , the Academy Awards and even the National Dog Show . They also host a “Tara and Johnny” podcast . Hard-hitting topics include “Making out in Montana,” ”Missing House Keys and Taco Bell,” and “St. Barts and Skin Care.”
Even more Johnny and Tara could show up on a streaming device near you.
“My dream for us is always to have a Sonny and Cher variety moment, late night, where we just enjoy ourselves and have so much fun,” Weir said.
“You can’t jinx us. We’re in the works with something,” Lipinski said.
“It’s a dream. We have a lot of dreams,” Weir said.
The duo never forget, though, that skating is what puts the A-list opportunities on the table. Lipinski was an Olympic gold medalist and Weir won three national championships. The two became fast friends soon after they were paired as analysts in 2013 to prepare for NBC’s Olympic figure-skating coverage at the Sochi Games.
The former champs save the serious stuff for the state of the U.S. program. The U.S. has lagged in finding breakout stars and Olympic gold, and Weir said the women’s short program Thursday night had “a lot of low, lows.”
“The women really need to feed off each other instead of just thinking, oh well, I’ll get to nationals and I’ll go to worlds and whatever,” Weir said. “They need to be competing at worlds already, here. That’s why Russia is so strong, because none of them have a sure thing of competing at the world championships because they’re all so good. The U.S. just feels soft in comparison.”
But the ‘17 skate version of Bonnie & Clyde have more on their mind as they bounce to the next project.
“We want to rule the world. We want to be Beyonce and Jay Z. Wait for our album,” Weir said. “We want Emmys, we want Grammys, we want Oscars for our acting ability. Best documentary short. We’re going to walk on the moon.”
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