The Tara-and-Johnny show didn’t stop in Sochi.
The dynamic skating duo off the ice of Tara Lipinski and Johnny Weir will continue its fresh run on fashion and commentary for “Access Hollywood” Sunday night for coverage of the Academy Awards. Lipinski and Weir, who scored big ratings and rave reviews during their skating broadcasts on NBC during the recent Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games, clearly aren’t slowing down now.
“It’s been a lot of fun,” Lipinski said. “I came into this wanting to do a good job and provide a fun, fresh perspective on skating, and it worked.
“The great thing about us is that we’re friends,” the 1998 Olympic champion added. “We both have the same idea as to what we want to get across. Sometimes we disagree but we have a good balance and we have fun together.”
Throughout the Winter Games, skating fans were constantly entertained not only by the skaters’ comments during the telecasts but also by their eccentric attire. In one interview with NBC’s “TODAY” show, Weir said the two packed eight suitcases of clothing for their broadcasts. Among the items they packed were jewelry, purses and blazers. Weir also said he brought four fur coats. Lipinski sported a gold tiara and top on the night of the women’s free skate in Sochi, which just so happened to coincide with the anniversary of her golden night back in Nagano, Japan, in 1998.
Now the two are taking their show from the Black Sea to the West Coast.
“I am honored and so excited to be a part of the team for ‘Access Hollywood's’ Oscar coverage,” Weir said in a statement. “There is no time that L.A. shines brighter than during the Oscars and I hope to bring my own special brand of sparkle to the broadcast. I am so privileged to work with my great friend, Tara Lipinski, and together we hope to entertain America's pants off.”
Figure skating will take a backseat to fashion this time around.
But in Sochi the two had plenty to discuss when it came to the ice.
One of the big topics of conversation came during the women’s figure skating competition when Russia’s Adelina Sotnikova pulled off one of the biggest upsets in the sport’s history. Although some thought South Korea’s Yu-Na Kim should have left Sochi with a second gold medal, both Weir and Lipinski believe Sotnikova was the rightful winner.
“When Yu-Na started and landed her triple-triple combination, I thought, ‘This is going to be good,’” Lipinski said. “But then she got tight. Technically, it was sort of a no-brainer. Adelina did a triple-triple and a double Axel-triple toe that was out of this world. And Adelina’s performance overall was electric.
“What Johnny and I tried to do was explain things to the fans. We were both completely of the same opinion on this one.”
Throughout their careers as skaters, both Lipinski and Weir were subjected to marks by judges. Now they are being evaluated by network executives.
So far, the reviews have been strong.
As NBC Olympics executive producer Jim Bell told The Wall Street Journal, “I can't recall rookie announcers ever making this kind of immediate impact on such a big stage.”
No word has been out as to whether Lipinski and Weir will be back with NBC for the next Olympic Games, perhaps for the summer edition of the Games in Rio de Janeiro in 2016 or for more figure skating at the next Winter Games in PyeongChang, South Korea, in 2018.
But for the moment, these two Olympians are enjoying living life out of their many suitcases.
Amy Rosewater is a freelance writer and editor for TeamUSA.org. A former sports reporter for The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer, she has covered five Olympic Games. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post and USA Today.