For the three-time U.S. figure-skating champ, retirement from competition is “bittersweet.” He didn’t win a medal at the Vancouver Games, “but for 4 minutes, 40 seconds, I looked pretty, landed my jumps and people assume I won. It’s funny, I constantly thank people for congratulating me.” Weir, 29, brings his expertise – and irrepressible style – to skating commentary on NBC. He spoke to PEOPLE’s Allison Adato.
Was it a hard decision not to try for a spot on this team?
Moving on was a clear decision, one I was adjusted to. Then I was at Nationals for NBC, and I wanted to be out there so desperately. But I’m excited to see this competition.
Who’s the next Johnny Weir?
Jason Brown is very much a performer. He doesn’t have the quad jump needed for a medal, but he’ll make a moment. Also Japanese skater Yuzuru Hanyu, a favorite for the gold. I designed his costume for his free program. I feel like Amazon, but: “If you like me, you may also like Jason and Yuzuru.”
You’ve loved Russian culture for a long time. What got you interested?
When I was 6, I found a book in my school library called Russia and Her States. I fell in love with the beautiful pictures. I got myself to learn the alphabet, and later it helped me communicate with my coaches. I trained there, lived there. It’s a magical place.
Are you concerned about their law banning “gay propaganda”?
A big test for me was when Elton John performed there. He was safe.
Will your husband go with you?
No. Despite the fact that we appeared in Russian newspapers when we married, I don’t want to be provocative.
You’ve talked about having children. Is that in the near future?
Not the very near future. But we have the luxury of planning. I have my sights on a daughter, naming her Anastasia and treating her like a princess.
Finally, of the three Sochi mascots – Hare, Polar Bear and Leopard – which one speaks most to you?
Leopard: Fierce, clever, shows its true spots. Also, I live in New Jersey, and if you don’t feature leopard print here, you might as well live in the city.