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Maggie Hendricks

Johnny Weir responds to critics with calm, classy demeanor

Maggie Hendricks
Fourth-Place Medal

Last week, American figure skater Johnny Weir was the subject of controversial statements made by Australian and Canadian television commentators who took a swipe at his manhood as he skated to a sixth-place finish.

This week, Weir addressed the criticisms at a news conference, joking that he grew out his beard just to prove his manhood.

Joking aside, though, Weir answered questions about the commentators' critiques with class and grace. He did not ask for an apology; instead he championed free speech and said that he wouldn't want these men fired.

"I hope more kids can grow up the same way that I did and more kids can feel the freedom that I feel to be themselves and to express themselves," Weir said.

Weir has been the subject of criticism for much of his career. His jokes about illegal drugs drew the ire of the conservative skating establishment, and the use of fur in his costume for the U.S. championships angered animal-rights activists.

The criticisms must have given Weir a thick skin. He has shown nothing but a calm face and responded in good humor to those who tried to tear him down.

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