Here are some of the top reasons why I'm excited about his return:
- He causes buzz: As soon as he announced his return, it caused excitement, not only among skating fans, but everywhere. Johnny is outspoken and overall he is just a great character. He emerged as one of the biggest stars of the 2010 Olympics. Average Joes who know nothing about figure skating know him. They probably wouldn't know Patrick Chan from Takahiko Kozuka, but they know Johnny. People relate to him because he is himself!
- He'll draw viewers for Nationals: You can look at Johnny's announcement the week before Nationals as tacky and an attempt to draw attention away from the skaters competing at Nationals, but I think it's actually the opposite. There are a lot of "Johnny fans" who have lapsed as figure skating fans since he stopped competing. Since he is calling the men's event in San Jose next week and he'll surely be a talked about character, he'll certainly draw viewers to Nationals that wouldn't watch otherwise.
- He is supremely talented: I have heard experts say time and time again that Johnny is one of the best natural talents the sport has ever seen. Most skaters start before the age of 5, but Johnny started at age 11 or 12 and everything came naturally. What is often in question is his work ethic and his competitive fire. Those are two things he'll have to address if he wants to come back and be competitive with the best in the World.
- He had the technical content to win in Vancouver: Many think that Johnny's 2012 programs were watered down technically, but he performed nearly identical elements to Evan Lysacek, he just didn't get the levels or the GOEs that Evan got. And that is mostly because Johnny is an individual and wants to perform programs the way HE wants, no the way the ISU wants him to. I hate to say it, but under the International Judging System, individuality is cursed, so Johnny will really have to conform to the code of points if he wants to get the best results in competition. Here are the protocols from the Men's free skate in Vancouver, if you don't believe me, look at it for yourself. The base value of Johnny's elements was only 1.72 below that of Evan Lysacek.