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Olympic Outsiders

If you can't be inside the Olympic Games, then follow Seattle Times producers, reporters, videographers and Olympic fans as we take you to the streets of Vancouver, B.C., to show you what's happening on the ground and give you a taste of the scene swirling around the 2010 winter games.

February 16, 2010 at 5:40 PM

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Men's figure skating: On Johnny Weir and that frenzy over fur

Posted by Tiffany Campbell

He's been called a fascinating fallen angel and a crystal enchantress of the ice and since I started watching figure skating champion Johnny Weir's surprisingly funny and hopeful documentary series on the Sundance Channel "Be Good Johnny Weir" I can't get enough of his antics, his fashion or his skating.

First, Weir as athlete: He's skating tonight in the men's short program at Pacific Coliseum here in Vancouver. He's a three-time U.S. champion, but he didn't do well in last year's national championships and considered quitting altogether.

I am not a skating expert (I'll leave that to my Seattle Times colleagues Ron Judd and Steve Kelley, who will be bringing their expertise to this Olympics). But I've found his series on Sundance to portray a compelling narrative of a skater attempting to make good on his chance to medal at the Olympics. He's considered a long shot to medal. Throw in a behind-the-scenes look at what it takes to make a skating champion, like the training complete with a tough Ukrainian coach, and it's something even a fickle fan of skating can appreciate.

He's toying with a possible quadruple jump in tonight's short program. Even a non-expert like me can surmise that this is a very tough thing to do. He reportedly landed one in a run-through on Monday, but we'll have to see what he does in competition tonight.

Now, Weir the personality. Most recently,the fur frenzy.

From the Chicago Tribune:

"I'm not intimidated by anything, except maybe PETA standing outside with a bucket of blood,'' Weir said.

The reference was to the animal rights' group sending Weir hate mail because he had been using fox fur on his free skate costume.

But Weir loves his fur. The evidence:

This video of his four most delicious things, and especially the hat he's wearing at the beginning of this ESPN interview:

But, in hopes of not having red paint splashed across him, he's switching to the faux stuff. Via ESPN:

I will be changing the genuine fox fur on my free program costume that I will use in the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver, B.C., to white faux fur.

The phrase "love him or hate him" seems to follow everywhere, so much that he's embraced it in sport. (He'll be skating to the song "I love you I hate you" by Raul DiBlasio in his short program tonight).

Tonight, I'll be watching for his costume and whether he lands that jump. More info on the rest of the men's short program here.

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