Johnny Weir may not be the top American figure skater heading into the upcoming Olympic Games in Vancouver, though he's certainly the most talked about. Thanks to his unfiltered comments, controversial costume designs and revealing reality TV show, the flamboyant star from Pennsylvania's Amish Country has always had an easier time making headlines outside the rink than on the ice. But as correspondent Frank Deford discovers in this REAL SPORTS profile, there's more to Weir than meets the eye. Fully committed to his skating and dead set on proving the critics wrong, Johnny Weir is ready to take the Olympics by storm. But are the Winter Games ready for Weir?
As the eyes of the world turn to Vancouver, the issue of drug testing inevitably returns to the forefront. Due to the high profile and infrequency of the Games, the war between Olympic athletes looking for an illegal edge and authorities seeking to govern them is especially fierce, resulting in the most stringent drug testing on the planet. The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) conducts more than 8500 tests a year, both in and out of competition; athletes must inform the USADA of their whereabouts 365 days a year and can be tested anytime, anywhere. But does all this testing really catch the cheaters? In this REAL SPORTS/Sports Illustrated report, correspondent Jon Frankel goes behind the scenes with the USADA to see how enforcement works.
If you've ever watched the Winter Olympics on TV and wondered how a bunch of people sliding rocks across the ice and sweeping with brooms became a sport, let alone an Olympic sport, you're not alone. While curling hasn't exactly gone mainstream here in the United States, it's a national obsession north of the border. REAL SPORTS correspondent Bernard Goldberg travels to Canada to see what all the excitement's about and visits Duluth, Minn., to take an inside look at the sport with a bartender, substitute teacher, construction worker and parole officer, aka the U.S. Olympic Curling team.
In 2006 REAL SPORTS told the story of Bill Johnson, the United States' first downhill skiing gold medalist. Johnson arrived at the 1984 Sarajevo Games a brazen 23-year-old without much of a track record, but with enough ability to carry him down the mountain in record time. Instead of emerging from the Olympics an American hero, however, he acquired a bad image to go with his medal. Many had already been put off by his cocky prediction that he would win the gold, finding it unbecoming in a sport that values respect and etiquette. And unfortunately for Johnson, the next 25 years proved more challenging than any downhill gates, as he suffered the death of a child, the deterioration of his marriage and a horrific skiing accident. Now, four years since his original profile, correspondent Frank Deford updates this moving story.