As autobiographies go, Johnny Weir’s Welcome to My World reads like a defense. The seasoned figure skater, a three-time national champion and two-time Olympian, has had no shortage of press attention for his colorful comments and candid choices where coaching and costumes are concerned. He has received both glowing adulation and scalding criticism from fans.
With the publication of his autobiography, the public can now see the emotions that influenced every decision and how he rose from a shy Pennsylvania boy to a public figure with a TV show and pop music single. Welcome to My World is unerring in its prose and winsome in its mission.
There is a definite air of welcome in Johnny Weir’s storytelling, and the book is a well paced, accessible read for both figure skating fans and curious watchers of pop culture. Weir has become a skating icon, boldly proclaiming his spirit off the ice as few athletes dare to do.
Like most athletic books, Weir’s is short and to the point. He skims through his childhood, only making short mention of his imaginative personality, and centers most of his focus on his years in figure skating’s highest ranks. It may be surprising for some to learn that he did not start skating until quite late in life at age twelve, instead preferring to do competitive horseback riding.
But once he started landing jumps on ice (figuring out how to do an axel in an hour; no small feat), he was hooked and immediately began a coaching partnership with Priscilla Hill. Weir trained with Hill up through the 2006 Turin Olympics, but shortly afterwards, sought out Russian mogul Tatiana Tarasova, who coached him through his second Olympic games in Vancouver.
For a world-class athlete to make such an abrupt shift is intriguing enough, but this is by no means the most revealing part of Welcome to My World. Johnny Weir recounts exactly what the media was always clamoring to know at his competitions. He shares why he melted down and missed jumps under pressure, how he so carefully shaped the sphere of influences around him (including his Olympic Games roommates), and whom he liked or disliked. He also holds back nothing on the subject of his sexuality and the impact being gay had throughout his competitive career, from his first heady relationships to tactless questions from reporters.