SBD/February 17, 2014/Olympics

Pairs Competition: Tara Lipinski, Johnny Weir Shining On NBCSN's Figure Skating Coverage

Lipinski (l) and Weir were praised for their relaxed chemistry on NBCSN
The breakout TV stars at the Sochi Games are NBCSN figure skating analysts Tara Lipinski and Johnny Weir, as they "represent a sense of showmanship combined with a willingness to be out there and honest that extends to their commentary," according to Robert Bianco of USA TODAY. Weir and Lipinski are "relaxed and amusing together" and are a "joy to hear, in part because they don't continually make us listen." They are "willing to let long stretches of performances go by without comment" (USA TODAY, 2/17). BLEACHER REPORT's Diane Pucin wrote NBCSN has "introduced us to the heirs apparent to Dick Button and Peggy Fleming" in Lipinski and Weir. They "have been the major Sochi announcing revelation" and are an "excellent pair of analysts, more fun than the prime-time team" of Scott Hamilton and Sandra Bezic. Along with play-by-play announcer Terry Gannon, who has the "ability to make subtle and self-deprecating cracks at just the right moment," Lipinski and Weir have "become much-watch TV" (BLEACHERREPORT.com, 2/16). Former SI TV editor Dick Friedman said Lipinski and Weir "eschew the snark and are chatty without being catty." Friedman: "I suspect that what they are saying is close to what they are really thinking. They have the cool chemistry of an old married couple" (SI.com, 2/17). Sporting News' Jesse Spector wrote on his Twitter account, "Haven’t had a chance to hear them until now, but Tara Lipinski and Johnny Weir are great. Wish they were the primetime team for NBC." The S.F. Chronicle's Ann Killion tweeted, "If NBC execs were paying attention, they would make the switch on their prime time skating commentary."

A TERRIFIC TANDEM: SPORTS ON EARTH's Gwen Knapp wrote under the header, "Weir And Lipinski Are An Effective Broadcast Pair." Weir's commentary "is remarkably vivid, concise and informative." While his "wit was presumed to be his resume topper for this gig, and it has turned up often," it has been his "rapport with Lipinski that has defined the broadcast." Their "banter is unlike anything we've ever heard from Olympic commentators." Meanwhile, Lipinski is the "queen of the metaphor." She foreshadowed Russian skater Evgeni Plushenko's "stunning withdrawal by pointing out that he had not done any jumps in his last practice and appeared to be in substantial pain." The two are "at their best when they simply analyze." They "rarely impose themselves on the scene," as they "know when to back off" (SPORTSONEARTH.com, 2/14). The AP's Jim Litke wrote, "Behind a microphone, Weir is fearless." That attitude, "coupled with a fierce intelligence and a love of fashion that began with childhood and still knows no bounds, is what made Weir a first-class commentator from the very beginning." The "only people Weir is out to please are NBC and the audience." Weir said, "In hiring me to have a voice and an opinion, they hired knowing full well, knowing what kind of statements -- fashion and otherwise -- I like to make" (AP, 2/14). THE MMQB's Peter King writes, "Johnny Weir is good on TV. I like his analysis, because he's emotional but also analytical -- in plain English -- about a sport I know so little about, figure skating" (MMQB.SI.com, 2/17).
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