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Lexington's Hammond replaced as play-by-play voice of Olympic skating

Tom Hammond, shown accepting the inaugural lifetime achievement award during the Bluegrass Sports Awards banquet in February 2012, will no longer call Notre Dame footballs games for NBC. Hammond has had that assignment since 1992. The award now bears his name.  Photo by Mark Cornelison | Staff
Tom Hammond, shown accepting the inaugural lifetime achievement award during the Bluegrass Sports Awards banquet in February 2012, will no longer call Notre Dame footballs games for NBC. Hammond has had that assignment since 1992. The award now bears his name. Photo by Mark Cornelison | Staff Herald-Leader

NEW YORK — Johnny Weir and Tara Lipinski, after attracting attention for their rapport and fashion sense in an understudy role at the Sochi Olympics, were promoted by NBC on Wednesday to its top figure skating broadcast team.

The move means Lexington native Tom Hammond's run is over as the network's play-by-play voice of Olympic figure skating.

Hammond, 70, has served that role every Winter Olympics since 2002.

Hammond will work as a track and field announcer at next summer's Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

With figure skating the marquee sport during the Winter Games, the promotion of Weir and Lipinski will make the former Olympians two of TV's most visible personalities in 2018 in South Korea.

Lipinski and Weir will team with play-by-play announcer Terry Gannon, starting their new role Sunday during NBC's telecast of the Skate America competition. Gannon first became known as a guard on Jim Valvano's national championship-winning North Carolina State University basketball team in 1983.

While Gannon takes Hammond's spot, Weir and Lipinski replace Scott Hamilton and Sandra Bezic, who teamed with Hammond for four Olympics. Hamilton, a 1984 gold medalist who called three other Winter Olympics for CBS, will remain as a special contributor to NBC at big figure skating events, including in South Korea.

Weir and Lipinski became an instant sensation in Sochi last winter, when they called live daytime broadcasts with Gannon on NBC Sports' cable network. Many viewers tuned in particularly to see what outrageous outfit Weir would be wearing. Hamilton, Bezic and Hammond handled the tape-delayed prime-time telecast on NBC.

After the Olympics, Weir and Lipinski contributed to fashion coverage at the Academy Awards and Kentucky Derby.

"We know a little bit about skating, too," Lipinski said on NBC's Today show Wednesday.

She won the 1998 Olympic gold medal at age 15. Weir is a three-time U.S. figure skating champion.

Hammond, who has worked 11 Olympics overall for NBC, signed a four-year contract with the network last year that allows him to continue as host of Thoroughbred horse racing's Triple Crown series in additon to the Summer Games.

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