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Weir, Miner galvanize 'Skate for the Goal' event

Johnny lands quad in practice; Miner happy with bronze at Four Continents

Johnny Weir with organizers Julia Giordano (left), Vida Weisblum (right) and Christie Corn.
Johnny Weir with organizers Julia Giordano (left), Vida Weisblum (right) and Christie Corn. (Adam Spunberg)

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By Adam Spunberg, special to icenetwork.com
(02/27/2012) - Between tying the knot, commentating for icenetwork.com at the U.S. championships and launching a professional comeback, it has been a whirlwind few weeks for Johnny Weir, but the frenzy did not stop him from assisting Vida Weisblum, Christie Corn and Julia Giordano in their quest to fight breast cancer and support the Special Olympics.

"I didn't grow up with so much," Weir said. "I didn't grow up with a lot of opportunity coming from the middle of nowhere in Pennsylvania. I didn't grow up with aspirations of grandeur and having everything the way my life is now. I always looked for somebody to look up to from my area that had done something, and there was never anybody.

"Even a small thing that you can do can make a difference for someone. And if I'm in a position where I can help anybody, I'm going to do it."

The "Skate for the Goal" event, which featured appearances by 2012 Four Continents bronze medalist Ross Miner, Olympic bronze medalist Timothy Goebel, six-time Estonian champion Elena Glebova, the Skyliners, and Eve Chalom and Jonathon Hunt of Ice Theatre of New York, was a welcome sight for onlookers at Chelsea Piers in Manhattan. Though there was plenty of star power, the real architects behind the operation were high schoolers Weisblum, Corn and Giordano.

"I thought, what better way to galvanize some support from both of my favorite communities -- my school community and my skating community -- than by hosting an event like this," said Weisblum, who attends Ethical Culture Fieldston School and is actively involved in the Special Olympics chapter there.

Weisblum, representing Special Olympics, teamed up with Giordano and Corn, who hail from Trevor Day and Riverdale Country Day schools, respectively, and lead Making Strides against Breast Cancer chapters. Together, they were a spiraling triple Axel of altruism.

As for Weir, he is already making significant progress on the ice.

"I landed a quad the other day, which was beautiful," he said. "It's not an easy transition to change your lifestyle at all. The hardest thing about this comeback is relearning how to listen to somebody telling you that you're doing something wrong."

He also relished the chance to broadcast for icenetwork.com in San Jose.

"I loved commentating at nationals for the men's event," he said. "I had such a good time. My hair didn't get messed up from the headphones; I sprayed it hard.

"But, it was very interesting, because I was sitting there, and I knew that in a year I would be standing down there with those guys."

Weir's husband, Victor Voronov, has been an enthusiastic observer since wedding Weir on New Year's Eve. The sudden spotlight is new to him, but he is enjoying it.

"It's wonderful," Voronov said. "It's definitely a big transition, but Johnny's very supportive and -- you know -- the guy's been through everything, and most of the fans are wonderful. It's an interesting life, and I love being by Johnny's side doing it.

"Johnny is the best husband in the whole world."

Goebel still wants to stay involved in skating

Now an analytic consultant for Nielsen after earning a degree in mathematics from Columbia, Goebel's days on ice have become a thing of the past. Still, he served as an emcee at "Skate for the Goal" and was eager to help the cause.

He also shared some new aspirations within the sport.

"I'm a technical specialist," he said. "I'm actually going to go and get recertified soon. I still coach a little bit. This is actually my third time out as an emcee for a benefit show, so I definitely want to stay involved in skating."

"I want to get more into the political side."

As for actually skating again, he said humorously, "I just don't really enjoy skating myself anymore. Training for nationals was infinitely more painful than senior finals week at Columbia."

"[Nationals] is like if you got your organic chemistry final and they said, 'Oh haha, just kidding. You have one hour instead of three.'"

Miner proud of results, ready for quads

Miner, who graciously made the trek down from Boston to do his part for charity, shared some perspective on his recent finishes -- bronze at both the U.S. championships and Four Continents -- and also hinted at what might come next season.

"Nationals wasn't my best skate," he said, "And I wasn't totally thrilled when I got off the ice. I was happy with the result, but I knew I could have skated better. While I didn't skate great at Four Continents either, still, the result there was incredible.

"I always want to win, but if I have to lose to someone, Patrick [Chan] and Daisuke [Takahashi] are OK right now," he said, laughing. "World champion and Olympic bronze medalist, and world champion. They can have that one for right now."

Looking back on his season, he knows where he needs to improve.

"At NHK, it's Daisuke and Takahito [Kozuka]," he said. "I wasn't going to beat them unless they had a really really bad day and I don't want anyone to have a horrible day, so I need to get to the point where I can beat these skaters on my own merit."

As for what's in store, he said, "Quads. Quad [Salchow] and quad toe. I think the toe is a little bit easier to get consistent because it's a lesser involved jump. Salchow, a lot of things have to go right. I've been working on both and they've been going really well.

"I think I'm going to get two new programs," he said. "We're not totally sure yet. And obviously a new short."

In the meantime, he plans to spend time reading golf books and perhaps taking Adam Rippon out for a golf lesson.

"At Four Continents, Adam and I were going to go golfing and then it snowed," he said. "And I was going to teach Adam how to golf."

"I think we're a little bit more equal in skating than we are in golf."