After giving a shout-out to his hometown of Quarryville — and his parents’ sacrifices for his Olympic dreams — Olympic skater and TV personality Johnny Weir ended Monday night sharing the top score on ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars.”
Dressed in golden costumes, Weir and his professional dance partner, Britt Stewart, danced a graceful rhumba to Christiana Aguilera’s version of “Reflection” from the live-action Disney film “Mulan.”
The dance, highly praised by all three judges on the TV ballroom competition, earned the couple a score of 24 out of 30. They tied for top spot on the judges’ leaderboard with “Catfish” star Nev Schulman and his partner Jenna Johnson.
In a video clip filmed as Weir and Stewart rehearsed their rhumba, Weir teared up as he talked about the sacrifices his parents, John and Patti Weir, made for him during his journey toward becoming a world-class figure skater.
“’Mulan’ is about the strength of family and sacrifice, and I definitely feel I wouldn’t be who I am without my family, and it is an honor to represent them,” Weir said. “My family means the world to me. I grew up in Quarryville, Pennsylvania, and my parents gave up everything so that could be an Olympian.”
A photo of Weir as a child, with his parents and his brother, Brian “Boz” Weir — with whom he has competed on cooking and game shows — flashed on the screen,
“My parents gave up their retirement fund so I could have new skates,” Weir said. “I remember they sold their cars. They gave up everything for me.
“Looking back, and watching your family give up everything for you and believing (in) you that much, is very special," he said. "My parents are definitely going to know this performance is for them.”
In a normal season, family members would be cheering on the dancers in the audience at “Dancing With the Stars.” But because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the crowd in the ballroom studio is small — mostly the other couples.
From skater to dancer
Weir looked more relaxed and confident in this third week of season 29 of "DWTS," and the judges noticed.
Carrie Ann Inaba was in tears after Weir's dance, saying, "Watching you dance it felt so good because I saw you make the transition from being an ice skater to a ballroom Latin dancer. ... It was epic."
"That was beautiful," judge Derek Hough said. "Your arms, your lines — you arrived on a straight leg. Beautiful. Well done."
"As always, your shapes, your extensions are exquisite, but what I was really impressed (with is) you started to project emotion, that you were actually playing a character..." Bruno Tonioni said. "It wasn’t all closed in. Keep on that way, because you've got everything."
"Anybody out there that doesn’t have the same luck that I had, to be able to be born into the family that I was, make a family for yourself, find your dream and go for it," Weir said after receiving his high score.
Monday was "DWTS" Disney night, on which all the couples danced to songs from Disney movies.
Weir and Stewart will dance on the show again next Monday night, starting at 8 p.m. on ABC.
“Tiger King” star Carole Baskin’s lackluster dance to “Circle of Life” from “The Lion King” – dressed in a furry lion costume — got her eliminated at the end of the night.
Weir, a figure skater-turned-broadcaster and actor, does cultural and skating commentary with his NBC broadcasting partner, fellow Olympian Tara Lipinski. They co-hosted the Food Network's "Wedding Cake Championship."
Weir, who lived in Quarryville until his family moved to Delaware when he was in middle school, recently played the role of figure skater Gabe Richardson in the Netflix skating drama series "Spinning Out." He has appeared on several game shows and reality competitions.
Weir is a three-time U.S. national champion in men’s figure skating, and has performed with the Fantasy on Ice show. He competed in the 2006 and 2010 Winter Olympics.
Scores on "Dancing With the Stars" are a combination of judges' marks and audience votes.