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US Olympian Johnny Weir speaks Russian fluently and here's why

Shania Wilson February 18, 2022
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Johnny Weir is a lot of things. Not only is he a figure skating veteran and a commentator for the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, he’s also bilingual, to the surprise of fans.

After commentating on 15-year-old skater Kamila Valieva’s performance in the women’s figure skating short program, fans are now wondering if and why Weir can speak Russian.

Here’s what we know.

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CELEBRITY WHEEL OF FORTUNE – James Pickens Jr., Brooke Burns and Johnny Weir Hosted by pop-culture legends Pat Sajak and Vanna White, Celebrity Wheel of Fortune takes a star-studded spin on Americas Game®. Season two continues with an all-new episode, SUNDAY, DEC. 12 (8:00-9:00 p.m. EST), on ABC. (Eric McCandless/ABC via Getty Images) JOHNNY WEIR

Johnny Weir commentates on Kamila Valieva’s performance

Johnny Weir has recently opened up about his commentary on Kamila Valieva’s skating performance.

As per AZ Central, Lipinski and Weir witnessed Valieva’s ‘meltdown’ following a recent scandal. The skating star had been allowed to compete even after failing a drug test for banned heart medication.

Weir described the experience as “a very emotional journey”, and told the media: “I walked out of calling the short program yesterday and sat outside and cried because it’s such a terrible situation to watch unfold.

“For a 15-year-old to have the weight of the world on their shoulders and then to have to condemn everything surrounding her.”

During the controversy, many viewers noted that Weir was able to speak Russian, prompting them to ask more questions.

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Why is Johnny Weir fluent in Russian?

Johnny Weir is fluent in Russian, and therefore was able to communicate with Russian figure skaters Kamila Valieva and Alexandra Trusova backstage.

Although Weir was born in the US, he became interested in Russia as a result of his passion for figure skating. As per SportsBeezer, Weir was always inspired by Russian skaters growing up, and started to learn more about the culture and language as a result.

In a 2004 article in the midst of his sporting career, Johnny spoke about how competing in Russia was a goal of his. At the time, the star explained: “My goal is to arrive in Moscow at the World Championships as the reigning national champion and challenge for a medal.”

Since, the commentator has continued to express his love for Russia. Page Six reports that Weir once discussed a coat that he was wearing, stating: “The coat. Made specially for me. In Russia. Russian fur designer. I’ve won competitions there, had an instructor there, spent lots of time in that country. I know people there, have friends in Russia. I love Russia. They know me well.”

The figure skater also had a handful of Russian choreographers during his career, including Natalia Linichuk and Maya Usova.

Take a look below at this 2016 interview seeing Johnny Weir speak fluent Russian:

Figure skater’s family background explained

Although Weir has always been passionate about Russia as a country and culture, the star actually grew up in Pennsylvania.

His family has Norwegian heritage, but have always settled in the United States.

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Shania is a Magazine Journalism graduate from the University of Derby. Her main passion is rooted in print journalism, however, she also branches out towards social media and is also interested in public relations. Outside of writing, Shania enjoys using social media, reading, and drinking coffee.