NBC will be providing some fun and interesting features to those who choose to watch the 140th running of the Kentucky Derby.
The pre-race show will begin at 4 p.m. ET on NBC with post time and the race set to go off around 6:30 p.m. ET
The stars of the pre-race show will be none other than Tara Lipinski and Johnny Weir, the breakout stars of the NBC Olympics coverage in Sochi.
Lipinski and Weir bring a totally new set of eyes to the event and NBC is hoping that they will also bring some of their large following of young viewers with them to Churchill Downs.
Early this week I spoke to the very chatty couple via conference call in Louisville, Kentucky, where they were prepping for the broadcast.
Sports Talk Florida: Will you bring in the younger demographic to the Derby, one that may have never seen the event before?
Tara Lipinski: Well yes. I mean I think that you look at the Olympics or you look at certain sporting events, obviously the sport is the main focus and what everyone is there for.
And when everyone puts such hard work then, especially the athletes who are in this case the jockeys, that is the main event. But I feel that in this day and age, everything is changing so much and everything is so entertainment driven.
There are so many more things happening other than just a two-minute race or a four-minute ice skating performance. And that’s what makes the Olympics or the Kentucky Derby, or whatever event it is so much fun.
That’s what I’m looking forward to most, going there with Johnny. You know, I think we have a certain way of doing things. And we’re just going to try to bring that same magic that we did to ice skating to another event…show people what they want to see. If I was sitting at home in the living room, I would love to see the race. But I also would love to see the fashion and who shows up, and the parties and everything else surrounding the event.
Johnny Weir: And for me I think Tara and I are based very much in reality. While some of our clothing and our confections can kind of lead you to think otherwise, we are very real, down-to-earth people.
For me, the Kentucky Derby is a beautiful event to watch because I love horses. I love horse racing. I think there’s nothing more beautiful than a horse that’s running with its tail and mane flying behind it.
I love that imagery. And I’ve been into the Kentucky Derby to watch the horses for two minutes. But also I want to be entertained. I want to know what’s going on in Louisville. I want to know why everyone flocks there every spring to see this race when you can watch it just as beautifully on television.
So I’m excited to bring sort of a real opinion of what the Kentucky Derby is about. It’s not stodgy and older people sort of telling you about the illustrious history of the event, which will happen. We are respectful of that.
But also to bring like, “oh, well we saw Jay Z and Beyoncé sitting over there, and we sat on their laps and we sang to them. And we enjoyed it.” And that’s what Tara and I brought to the Olympics, was a very good knowledge of sports, about what it takes to be an Olympian and what it takes for young people to be out there on the ice, and also we could explain our sport.
Here, we’re explaining the culture in the atmosphere around the Derby. We’re not actually calling the race unless it’s just to one another for Instagram or something.
But we’re talking about things that we know very well…
Sports Talk Florida: How does one be fashionable at the Kentucky Derby?
Johnny Weir: First you learn from your mistakes. Last time I was just so uncomfortable with the weather. And I was dressed for a slight chill. I was in tweed. I was in a tie. I had a button up. I had a huge sun hat that was black.
I sweated through my foundation. It was just not a good scene. I was not cute. So you have to be prepared for any condition, and you have to be prepared to look beautiful the whole time. That’s my advice for Tara or any first-timer at the Derby. You have to be ready, or at least have somebody that can carry you around.
Sports Talk Florida: Johnny I hate to tell you this, but it’s supposed to be pretty chilly this time. So in terms of the tweed, that might be a smarter way to go this Derby.
Johnny Weir: I don’t believe it. I don’t believe it. It was supposed to be chilly last time, chilly and rainy – I’ll bring a sensible shawl.
Sports Talk Florida: Why is it so hard to hit the sweet spot for Derby fashion? It seems like this is a really, really tough zone to get into. You see people either way underdressed, way overdressed. Where is the sweet spot for Derby fashion? What does that look like?
Tara Lipinski: I do always love a classic look. And I love a popular color and something fun. But especially with all the hats, I think some people with accessories and the hats and the color and the flowers and the big dresses…it can be for me a bit overwhelming.
You look back at certain people who walked the red carpet and just have nailed it. I’m thinking of Lauren Conrad last year, a very simple, classic dress with an amazing hat. And she just looked so chic and beautiful.
So I definitely love a classic look. But at the same time, it’s the styles and it’s a fun event. There’s a lot of charm to it. So adding a popular color and something fun is always nice to see.
Johnny Weir: For me, the sweet spot kind of lies in knowing what you feel good in. It’s a long day and you want to feel comfortable…perhaps things that won’t wrinkle.
My mother, for example, was trying to suggest that I wear a linen pant. And first of all, I’m not a fan of linen. Second of all, it wrinkles so terribly that by the end of the day, your butt looks, you know, like a walnut or something. I’m not quite sure, but something like that.
So I try to stay away from things that don’t travel well and that won’t sort of take a turn for the worst throughout the day. But there is something so lovely about Southern charm and sweet tea and Fried Green Tomatoes, and every movie we see with the debutantes and their huge dresses.
The Kentucky Derby itself, with the mixture of the jockey uniform with the jersey and the high boots…I’m a huge fan of equestrian culture and that the helmets and the sword of a beautiful leather (world) from even people like Armez.
And I love bringing that side of things into the Kentucky Derby. I’m not really down with people that will show up in blue jeans and cowboy boots. Even though that may be their style, I think that you should dress it up a little bit more.
This is a huge cultural event and America’s watching and we’re all rooting for our horses, but also, it’s one of those few opportunities to bring culture and sport under the same roof where everyone’s watching for both of those things. It’s not just who scored the most touchdowns.