Tara Lipinski and Johnny Weir were bonding over their Céline bags while sitting outside of the NBC studios in Stamford, Connecticut, in 2013 when they had an idea.
What if, they thought, they analyzed figure skating on camera at the upcoming 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi together?
Before that point, the two former Olympic figure skating stars had been preparing to commentate on the men’s and women’s events at the Games separately, both alongside NBC Sports’s Terry Gannon. But Lipinski and Weir realized their chemistry could amount to something incredible.
“We went to NBC, and they probably thought we were crazy,” Lipinski told TIME over the phone as she prepped for that day’s broadcast of the ladies’ figure skating finals at the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea. After a trial run, NBC agreed — and the broadcast team of Lipinski and Weir was born.
“It’s so rare and unique,” Lipinski said of her relationship with Weir. “It was sort of meant to be.”
At Sochi, Lipinski and Weir’s figure skating commentating became the break-out stars of the Games despite not competing on the ice themselves. The duo coordinated outfits — with lace ensembles for the ladies’s event and emerald green for ice dancing — and started a joint Instagram account to chronicle their journey in Sochi and beyond.
Their broadcasting success only grew from there, with gigs for NBC outside of their expertise of figure skating at the Super Bowl, the National Dog Show, the Academy Awards and the Kentucky Derby. And at the 2018 Games in PyeongChang, Lipinski and Weir joined NBC’s primetime team, alongside Gannon, and will host the upcoming Closing Ceremonies.
(When they were told they would host the Closing Ceremonies, Lipinski asked three different times, “Are you sure? Is this real?”)
Part of what makes Lipinski and Weir’s partnership enticing to viewers is the effortlessness of it. When they were first starting out in Sochi, NBC’s producers told them to just act like themselves while on camera, Lipinski said. That came so naturally for the two of them that they rarely felt the need to rehearse before a big event.
“I don’t know many broadcast teams that have the same relationship that Johnny and I do,” Lipinski said.
“This is a real friendship that only helps when we’re on camera,” she added. “I have his back; he has mine.”
Indeed, the bond they developed in Sochi translated off the camera, with Weir serving as her “bridesman” at her wedding to sports producer Todd Kapostasy in 2017. In PyeongChang, Lipinski and Weir posted a video decrying the fact that their hotel rooms weren’t adjoining — so Lipinski busted in on Weir trying on outfits for the next day.
At the Games this year, the two of them brought 21 suitcases to carry numerous outfit options, shoes, jewelry and other accessories. Their glamorous ensembles often take the internet by storm — with references to the colorful and glittery outfits donned by the elite in the dystopian The Hunger Games series.
With the Closing Ceremonies gig as perhaps one of the greatest accomplishments of their broadcast careers thus far, Lipinski is optimistic about their future.
“Coming from an individual sport where we skated in the singles event — so it was always about us, it wasn’t a team, ever — and for us to both want it to be a team effort and love it being a team effort, it makes it so special,” Lipinski, who won her historic Olympic gold at the Games in Nagano, Japan, 20 years ago, said. “I can’t imagine doing a broadcast without him.”
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