NBC is beefing up their booth for the Sochi Olympics by adding figure skaters Johnny Weir, Tara Lipinski as well as ice dancer Tanith Belbin to their broadcast team. Weir and Lipinski will serve as figure skating analysts for NBC while Belbin will work as a reporter for NBC Olympics’ Sports Desk and The Olympic Zone.
Jim Bell, Executive Producer of NBC Olympics, commented on the new additions:
"Johnny, Tara and Tanith have entertained judges and fans alike with their skill, style and charisma. We’re confident those same characteristics will entertain Olympic viewers this February."
It's always nice to see experts from a sport moved into analyst positions. While we're unfamiliar with what these three will bring to the booth, we imagine they'll add some interesting insight to sports (figure skating and ice dancing) that the majority of the viewing public may not know very much about outside the Winter Olympics.
The most notable inclusion is certainly Weir, whose presence will carry a story on its own due to Russia's anti-gay laws.
Weir, an openly gay man, told the TODAY show:
"I'm a gay American and I married into a Russian family. While this law is a terrible thing that you can't be gay publicly in Russia . . . I plan to be there and not be afraid. Our presence is needed."
It'll be very interesting to see how NBC covers Russia's anti-gay laws and how Weir might fit into those plans. It's going to be noticeable if NBC shies away from the topic with one of its most significant Olympians in opposition now on their team.