THE MODERATOR: Thank you. Good afternoon, everybody, and welcome to our conference call with Johnny Weir and Tara Lipinski who today were officially announced as NBC Olympics correspondents for the upcoming Olympic games. This weekend Johnny and Tara return to Louisville, Kentucky as fashion and lifestyle experts at NBC’s coverage of the Kentucky Derby this Saturday at 4 p.m. Eastern.
Johnny and Tara will also have a major presence on social media throughout Derby weekend. Also joining us today is Jim Bell the executive producer of NBC Olympics. We’ll begin with Jim talking about the Olympic announcement and a comment from Johnny and Tara before taking your questions. With that, I’ll turn it over to Jim.
JIM BELL: Thanks, everybody. Appreciate your time. Happy Monday, all, I’m just back from a trip to Rio where things are coming along nicely, and thrilled to announce Johnny and Tara joining us down in Rio, a city whose color and energy are a pretty good match for their own. We’ve had them down there doing a few things in the lead-up to the Olympics, and we saw their rock solid, fantastic figure skating analysis in Sochi and just their personalities were so great and their social media presence and abilities were so much fun, and we thought there was no way we weren’t going to have them joining us in Rio.
With that, we’re thrilled and love to — do you want those guys to say a few words first to open it? Ladies first, Tara.
TARA LIPINSKI: All right. Yeah, I am beyond excited. And I just think that we love figure skating, but we are Olympians, and I appreciate sports so much and I know Johnny does as well, and everything that the Olympics stands for. So to be given this opportunity to move beyond figure skating and be able to go to these iconic events like the Super Bowl or the Kentucky Derby, or now the Summer Olympics, it’s really surreal and beyond belief.
So I would just say we’re not doing any technical analysis, of course, of any of the sports, but I think that’s the best part because it will really allow us to share in the experience with the spectators and with the viewers at home. So I feel like we’ll really be able to get in there and dig into the culture and the sights and the sounds. We’ve already been to Rio once and it was an incredible experience. So I can’t really wait to go back.
Obviously, Johnny and I like to bring a lot of fun to our events and to figure skating, but we also know how serious of an event the Olympics are for these athletes. But I feel like maybe in this new role we have this same opportunity to sort of balance that seriousness with the humor and hopefully that Tara and Johnny perspective that I guess we hope people like.
So I’m just excited to really be a part of this and literally today might be one of my happiest days. I love the Olympics so much, and this is not a winter games and we’re going in a new role, and I don’t know. Tara and Johnny are ready to take Rio.
But also we’re going to the Derby, which we’ve been several times and it’s one of my favorite events. Obviously, Johnny and I love fashion, so lots of fashion, lots of parties and lots of excitement. So we’re all packed with our 20 suitcases and we’re ready to head to Kentucky.
JOHNNY WEIR: Thank you all for joining us this morning. It’s definitely a big day for Tara and I with all these announcements coming out not only about the Olympics but for my horse broach ordering it for the Kentucky Derby. It’s been a ver social media heavy day for me already.
Looking ahead to the Rio Olympics, we are so honored every opportunity we have to work outside figure skating and outside our normal go-to. And for us to really be cultural attaches to the viewers at home, it’s something we so enjoy, whether it’s the Oscars, the Kentucky Derby, the Super Bowl, or the Olympic Games. For us the Olympics have been part of our lives since we were quite young, and we have lived it, and dreamt it and felt it every day of our lives even since we’ve retired from competitive skating.
And I think it’s so dynamic to have people that know what they’re talking about and know what an event is all about to be there and help the audience enjoy the Olympic Games on a different level than maybe they would watching a normal broadcaster that hadn’t been through the trials and tribulations of competing in the Olympics.
So in addition to our dog and pony side show and everything that we do and the fashion and fun and best friend aspect of things, as Olympic purists we’re both so excited to be a part of the Rio NBC team and to let our peacock tails fly. And I am so excited just to be a part of a summer games. I’ve never really been to one, so it will be very exciting.
Looking ahead to this week’s Kentucky Derby, luckily we have all of the stats on the horses and we can sort of get our bets together. Tara’s a really great Kentucky Derby betting woman, and I support from the sidelines. I like all my debts to hang in my closet.
So looking forward to another Kentucky Derby. The fact that we’ve been able to create a very special social media inspired broach to go with my look for the Derby and also working with the same hat designer, Kerin Rose Gold for hopefully another home run of a hat this year.
So lots and lots of exciting things, and we’re both so honored and privileged to be part of such an amazing company and amazing team and be able to work together because we do legit love each other. So it’s very exciting for us.
Q. I’d like to know whose idea was the broach, Johnny, yours or NBC’s? And if it works is there going to be like a pommel horse broach or Javelin throwing broach at the Olympics?
JOHNNY WEIR: Well, thank you for your question. The initial idea always comes from a really good place as far as it being a broadcasting team. Without actually being able to stand in people’s living rooms, we want to bring the action as close as possible, and oftentimes that comes through people’s hand held devices.
Myself as well as the social media team at NBC had the idea of incorporating some kind of aspect into my hat, originally, but of course since the last Kentucky Derby, I’ve been planning since last summer on what my hat would be this year, and it was already sort of a real idea. But I still wanted to have an aspect of my look that would be interactive for our audience, and a broach seemed the next logical choice.
So it was definitely a labor of love between myself and the whole NBC team to create this thing and make sure it happened. So I, myself, am still fascinated by a fax machine, but I’m not quite sure how via Wifi or Bluetooth how this horse is going to run and light up, but it will is what I’m told, and it’s going to be super cute and super fun. Whether people are loving my look and want to use the hashtag, #watchmenaynay, if they want to do that because they’re loving me or if they want to annoy me, it’s kind of up to them. I’m open to all, just please interact with us on social media.
Q. On the NBC side can you see the broach expanding?
JIM BELL: I think we’re going to have one in the control room in Rio.
Q. Are you really bringing 20 suitcases to Kentucky?
TARA LIPINSKI: I mean, probably not 20, but usually to events like this we travel with 7, right, Johnny, is that our number?
JOHNNY WEIR: Yeah, I think seven for a week of work is our go-to number.
Q. Seven each?
TARA LIPINSKI: Most definitely it’s definitely many.
Q. What are you guys going to —
JOHNNY WEIR: For Rio, we’ll have (Indiscernible).
Q. So what are you going to wear to the Derby?
JOHNNY WEIR: Well, it’s pretty understandable, I think, that we can’t give that away. It will all be revealed to you in a very timely fashion. We have less than a week now to wait. I can say that my hat will be a subtle nod to a regal My Little Pony.
TARA LIPINSKI: Unveiling his hat is definitely my favorite part. We don’t really talk about what we’re going to wear until the day of. But I’m be wearing Mark Zunino, a custom dress by Mark, and Christina Mora is doing my hat.
Q. Can you give us a color, anything at all?
JOHNNY WEIR: Yes, I will have a very vibrant color choice in my hat, and when it comes to spring and summer dressing I’m a big fan of the purity of wearing all white, so I am always so outrageous in the winter with the layering and all that sort of stuff. But when it comes to our first spring event, which is always the Derby, I like to bring spring wear to this one, so crisp and clean and pretty about white dressing. So definitely I’ll be wearing white and starting my summer white season.
TARA LIPINSKI: Since we do love to match, I will also incorporate those same colors, but I think we’ll be pretty colorful this year, right, Johnny?
JOHNNY WEIR: Yeah, I mean, there is some good color in addition to my white look. Boy, it’s so hard not to give it away, but we can’t, we have to make you guys tune in and watch to see what we’re going to wear.
Q. Oh, we’re going to watch. There is no doubt. We’re going to watch. What are you looking forward to most about coming back to the Derby?
TARA LIPINSKI: For me I love the Derby. I really think they say it’s the most exciting two minutes in sports, and it really is. And I think the lead-up and the build-up and anticipation of that for the two days we’re there, we do the Friday broadcast and obviously the Derby, and the whole town is alive. And it is about things that Johnny and I love it’s sports, fashions, parties and everybody’s over the top. It’s just a really fun weekend, and to be right in the center of it, there is no better spot.
JOHNNY WEIR: I love going to sporting events where the host city or the host town really gives their all to make sure that everyone visiting and the locals are having just the best time. Really outside the Olympic Games, the only city that I’ve seen really bring it and really encompass everything that is that weekend’s event is Louisville. So, you know, just to see the excitement.
Tara last year we were riding in the car going to a party, and we heard on the radio that we were just at a different party. It’s so fun when a whole town is really involved in every part of the event and every aspect of it. It makes it really exciting and really welcoming for us out-of-towners to come in and enjoy the event, and of course the actual races are so exciting.
Q. Will you guys be going to the Derby parties again this year?
TARA LIPINSKI: I don’t know. I mean, we always love to attend if we can, but sometimes our schedule with work is a bit hectic, so it usually is on the fly if we can attend the parties.
Q. Switching over to Rio, you guys mentioned that you’ve had the opportunity already to travel there. Having been there and experienced the culture and the venues a little bit, is there something in particular you’re looking forward to location-wise and sports-wise? Is there a particular person or team that you’re excited to go and watch?
TARA LIPINSKI: I would say I love gymnastics. I guess two-part question, I love gymnastics, and figure skating and gymnastics are pretty close when it comes to being able to relate to these sports. And I think that Simone Biles, Gabby Douglas, there are so many exciting names and to actually be able to be there and maybe watch a live event is going to be a dream come true. I’ve watched gymnastics since I’ve been a little girl.
As for Rio, it really was one of the most memorable trips. The moment you get there you’re — it’s almost as if color is everywhere and the people are so happy, and I think they are so excited to have an the Olympic Games in Rio. That to go back when it’s actually time for the Games, the energy is going to be unreal. And we were lucky enough to really go to many places in Rio and see Christ the Redeemer just standing up there overlooking the beaches and the mountains, it was one of those moments that it just takes your breath away. I think there are so many places in Rio that we haven’t been yet, that hopefully if time allows we’ll be able to explore all that Rio has to offer.
JOHNNY WEIR: Yeah, two-part question. So for Rio, it’s going to be a wonderful host city. You can see the people are already excited. I constantly hear stuff on the radio about Rio not really feeling like they’re going to host the Olympics and of course all of the drama surrounding Brazil at the moment. But while Tara and I were there, we had nothing but respect from local people we would meet about the Games and how excited they were that the Olympics were actually coming to Rio. And I think that Rio will play excellent host to the Olympic Games.
Now Rio and Brazil in themselves are stunning. It’s just so wonderful. It’s such a different culture than what we’re used to to host these Games because there is a lot of protocol that goes into the Olympics and certain ways certain things happen, and Rio will definitely bring her own flair to the Olympic Games.
Like Tara said, standing at Christ the Redeemer before anybody else was there, I mean, we were filming so we had a little bit of a VIP treatment and got to see it very early in the morning and watch the sun come up. We saw so many parts of Rio the city, and we’ve already chosen where we’re having dinner every night. I mean, we are really lucky that we got to do a little on the ground, pre-Olympic action so that we can be TOUR guides to the rest of our NBC family, I suppose.
But really it’s such a wonderful city, and it will be so exciting to see how they actually hold these Olympics. And the Brazilian fashion is so sexy, and they’re very actually light on clothing I would say, so that turns into a whole new world of dressing. So as fashion addicts, that really is exciting for us, and we’re already looking for ways to incorporate Brazilian designers, Brazilian style not only in dress, but hair and make-up into what we’re doing because we’ll really be bouncing around everywhere during the Games.
For myself in particular, looking ahead to the actual competition, I would say gymnastics, equestrian and diving are my favorite summer Olympic sports. But my favorite summer Olympic sport as of late is anything to do with Ryan Lochte, so I’m looking forward to that.
Q. Tara, Johnny had mentioned earlier that he follows your lead when he does betting for this weekend. Do you have any horses that have caught your eye or anything that you look for when you’re placing your bets?
TARA LIPINSKI: Well, the very first year I had never been to the Derby before, so the very first year it was definitely beginners luck. Of course I’m very superstitious, I love going with gut feelings, so I feel like I probably just picked horses on their names and there wasn’t any real true good thought behind it. I won a good amount of money that very first year, on a Friday, and the next day I lost it all and maybe more.
So I learned my lesson. Now I go to all the experts when I get there. I kind of like go into the truck and kind of learn in a quick amount of time in two days, and then try to use my best knowledge. But, yeah, when I get there, I really love just learning more about it, and hopefully I’ll pick the right horse again. I don’t know.
JOHNNY WEIR: It definitely is helpful when Tara and I get to go the barns first and meet the horses because we get to look them in the eye, and we get to give these beautiful creatures a proper iron stare down and just kind of really, really inspire them to win so that Tara will win so we can go by shoes.