Johnny Weir Retiring From Figure Skating, Corresponding for Sochi Olympics Despite Russia's Anti-Gay Laws

Celebrity News Oct. 23, 2013 AT 8:45AM
Johnny Weir at Soho Grand Hotel on July 27, 2013 in New York City. Johnny Weir announced on the TODAY show Oct. 23 that he is retiring from figure skating at the age of 29 and will be corresponding for NBC at the 2014 Sochi Olympics -- A controversial choice for the openly gay athlete, given Russia's anti-gay laws. Credit: Michael Stewart/Getty Images

After 17 years of figure skating, Johnny Weir is retiring. The 29-year-old athlete officially announced his retirement on the TODAY show Wednesday, Oct. 23, and shared his plans to work with NBC at the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

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"It is surreal writing about my career as if it had happened to someone else and to actually write the words, 'I am retiring from competitive figure skating,' Weir said in a statement to Us Weekly. "I have cried my way through writing this entire column not because I am sad, or that I'll miss training or falling or being so nervous I thought my head would explode, or starving or the glory of victory or the agony of defeat, I cry because of the memories that have shaped my life."

"At twenty-nine, it is odd to explain to the average Joe that I am retiring. While my retirement surely isn't a shock to the skating world, I have been able to become a sort of face for my sport to people who rarely watch it, and I always quickly follow up the statement of 'I'm retiring from competition' with the truth that I will continue to skate and perform as long as my body will allow me and that I pass my presence in the competitive ranks on to some genius upstart, the youth that keeps the Olympics and sports alive," he explained. "While I am not old, part of being a champion is knowing when your time is up."

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Weir has had many accomplishments throughout his career. He is the 2008 World bronze medalist, a two-time Grand Prix Final bronze medalist, the 2001 World Junior Champion and three-time U.S. national champion.

"Seventeen years ago, it's hard to say exactly how, but I knew my life would have some magic, and I have figure skating to thank for that," he said in his statement. "I wish for everyone in this world to have even one moment of finding their bliss and chasing after it at all costs and I pray that you are lucky enough to even have two of those moments, because they are fleeting and sometimes unappreciated."

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During his appearance on the TODAY show, Matt Lauer and Savannah Guthrie welcomed Weir to their news team and asked how he, as an openly gay man, felt about Russia's anti-gay laws.

"I'm a gay American and I married into a Russian family," he said of his 2011 civil ceremony to Victor Voronov. "While this law is a terrible thing that you can't be gay publicly in Russia . . . I plan to be there and not be afraid. Our presence is needed."

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