It was seven minutes into an interview and Johnny Weir and Tara Lipinski couldn’t stop giggling.
“I don’t think he’s ever had the giggles like this, ever,” said Lipinski, as Weir walked away to compose himself.
Soon enough, the former Olympic figure skaters-turned-commentators, known for their fun Olympic banter and colorful outfits, had their game faces on, ready to talk about their announcing gig for NBC and fashion at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang.
“On camera, you have to bring it. In this day and age of fashion bloggers and Vogue you really have to make sure that you’re on point every day and not repeating, because people are waiting to see what we’re going to choose,” said Weir, who packed 52 pairs of shorts, 37 pairs of shoes, 26 bathing suits, nine hats and and three pounds of jewels for the Rio Games in 2014.
“The looks that we bring to the broadcast are completely our own and we love having fun with it,” Weir added.
Weir and Lipinski are heading to South Korea as NBC’s prime-time figure skating announcers and the fashion-forward duo is already mulling their sartorial choices. Expect a lot of high heels — for both of them — sparkles and wardrobe changes.
The first time Lipinski, the 1998 gold medalist, and Weir, a two-time Olympian, broadcast a Winter Games was at Sochi in 2014. They were joined in the booth by play-by-play announcer Terry Gannon, offering live commentary on NBC Sports Network.
Viewers loved their figure skating insight and easy conversational style, mixed with fashion policing. In October 2014, NBC named them prime-time announcers for Pyeongchang.
“One of the most memorable moments of Sochi was when we all sat together in a little booth and it was the beginning of Tara, Johnny and Terry,” Lipinski said. “It was our first, big event. To sit there next to my best friend and be part of an Olympics again felt so overwhelming and so special.”
Their coordinating outfits in Sochi — including a Valentine’s day number that had Weir dressed as diamonds and Lipinski as hearts — gained them thousands of Instagram followers. For Pyeongchang, Weir said they are choosing his clothes first and Lipinski’s second so that they can match and create themes. They’re both planning to wear South Korean designers; Weir is working with people close to him on designing a few special pieces that he will reveal in Pyeongchang.
"People loved when we would describe how we were matching and what we were…When you’re in a foreign country for a month broadcasting all the way back in America, you really have to get into that secular cocoon with your dearest ones and have a good time,” Weir explained. “We always have adjoining hotel rooms and we can play with each other’s things and by the end of the month we know, 'That white shirt but not that white shirt,' or, 'Make sure you go with that necklace but not that necklace.'”
The breakout stars of Sochi became NBC’s top figure skating team and went on to cover fashion at the Oscars, Super Bowl and Kentucky Derby, where Weir wore a hat made up of a bouquet of roses, complete with its own mint julep. They also brought their act to the Rio Olympics as cultural correspondents.
"When we go to Pyeongchang it's going to maybe surpass any moment we've ever had at the Olympics. This is prime-time. We need options, we're going to need changes," said Lipinski of their wardrobe.
The best friends see the last three years as the perfect training ground for their prime-time jobs in Pyeongchang. They've covered hundreds of hours of figure skating competitions for NBC.
“We love this sport and we’re so passionate about it so the real work that we have to do is poring over stats and who changed coaches this season and [skaters'] programs,” Weir said. “We like to watch skating live with our audience so that we have very organic reactions to what we’re seeing, and I think that’s something that makes us very relatable to our audience. If we’re over-prepared and too rehearsed, we won’t be able to have as much fun with you guys, we won’t be able to create the best TV show that there is.”