Five U.S. Figure Skaters Grilled on Gays and Russia at Olympic Media Summit

Several U.S. Olympic hopeful figure skaters were asked about Russia's anti-gay laws today at the U.S. Olympic Committee media summit in Park City, Utah. Seems as though it's a standard question now, which is good.

WagnerSaid two-time U.S. champion Ashley Wagner:

“I have gay family members and I have a lot of friends in the LBGT community, so -– I’m so nervous to be talking about this, it’s that taboo –- I just have such a firm stance on this. I really believe we should all have equal rights. I obviously do not support the legislation in Russia, but at the same time it’s not my place to go into Russia and tell them how to run their country. I’m just an athlete…. I believe that the best way you can show your support for the community is to speak about it. I do think the Olympics are really an opportunity for us as athletes to go in and show what we can do with our sport. During the Olympics I’m going to be focused mostly on the competition and my skating.”

Said bronze medalist Agnes Zawadski: “The Olympics are about all the countries coming together and being as one. My main focus is going to be the Olympics and enjoying the moment, if I make it, and representing the U.S. really well and showing that I’m proud to be an American … I’m not there to make a difference. I’m going to focus on myself and what I have to do to compete well.”

Said three-time U.S. champion Jeremy Abbott, who was criticized in August for comparing Russia's anti-gay laws to interior decorating: "I think there is no right answer.  There is no way to answer this question properly without offending somebody.  That’s why we all feel we are walking on eggshells. . .We have to be cautious about what we say."

Said defending gold medalist Evan Lysacek: "I really prefer to leave it up to [the U.S. Olympic Committee] to comment because I think one voice is the most powerful with political matter like this."

Skater Gracie Gold chimed in: "It's definitely a hot topic that will be addressed."

Comments

  1. Mrs. Sippi says

    Sorry skaters — This is an easy one. Speak out against injustice and stand up for human rights. People are being beaten, kidnapped, tortured. This is more important than skating. And I LOVE skating. You are walking on eggshells because it is very hard to maintain your investment in your own career while taking a stand for human rights. Stand up. Speak out in numbers. Tell the world you are on our side. If enough of you do it, there could be some more traction. Without it, I’m afraid you’ve simply given in to the idea that people are not essential to making change.

  2. anon says

    This saddens me. Figure skating of ALL THE SPORTS would be the easiest to move to another country for their competition. Fer gawd’s sake, there is a world championship held every year. It’s not rocket science.

    There is no reason that figure skater’s have to give up their competition. Just move it to another venue in another country.

    Yes, they would have to miss out on the “ceremony” that the Olympics provides. But, they all keep saying they just want to compete and show the world their skills. So, the loss of the ceremonial aspect of the “games” shouldn’t matter to them.

  3. says

    “”I think there is no right answer. There is no way to answer this question properly without offending somebody.”

    Abbott needs to realize sometimes the only way to answer a question properly is to offend somebody.

  4. ali says

    Instead of condemning these individuals, why not place the blame where it belongs: on the US Olympic Committee. Without question, all these athletes except Ms. Wagner were giving the stock answer as instructed. (Ms. Wagner probably got in hot water for her comment.)

    Since all their expenses will be handled by the USOC, that makes these athletes essentially employed by the USOC. I can’t go to work and tell clients anything I want because I am a representative of my company. Same rules apply here.

    I’m not saying athletes can’t speak up. But, a USOC Media event is not the place to do that.

  5. Sean says

    Ashley Wagner = supports her gay family and friends but is going to ignore that LGBT human beings are being raped, tortured, beaten, imprisoned, silenced, and murdered in Russia all so that she can get her fame and blood covered medal.

    Agnes Zawadski = all she cares about is herself not human beings being raped, tortured, beaten, imprisoned, silenced and murdered. Greedy inhuman whore.

    Jeremy Abbot = Hey Jeremy there is a right answer. Who cares if uncivilized anti-gay trash are offended? They are nothing but a cancer to the world.

    Evan Lysacek = Just not your voice huh Evan?

    Gracie Gold = Doubtful.

    There will be one Russian gay teenage boy who will not be watching the Olympics. Not because he doesn’t want to or is boycotting it but because he was raped by anti-gay Neo-Nazi barbarians empowered by the government and the complicity of Athletes like you and is now dead from his injuries. But you get your Olympics, right you greedy pieces of soulless scum?

    Disgusting. There is very little humanity left in this grotesque world and NONE of it is being displayed by them.

  6. Gregory in Seattle says

    Is the US Olympic Committee pre-screening potential athletes to make sure they won’t stir up trouble? If an athlete takes a strong stand against bigotry, will they be excluded? Why else would these questions get asked?

  7. melburke says

    These people are figure skaters, not the US Ambassador to Russia. Being an elite athlete preparing for the Olympics is a full-time job.

    Expecting every US athlete to become a human rights crusader is asinine. Why should an athlete be expected to make sacrifices?

    And I ask this: Other than making vitriolic comments online, what sacrifices have you guys made to help LGB people in Russia?

  8. Elsewhere1010 says

    I have a new name for Evan. From this point forward he’s to be known as “Lysacek the Coward”. When little children point to him and identify him, I want them to say, “He’s the coward who hid when it was time to stand up an be counted.”

  9. Mike Ryan says

    Every one of these skaters as well as ALL skaters should bow out of the Russian Olympics and publicly state why they are not going to participate. Instead, they are willing to sacrifice a segment of society for their own greedy chance at money and fame. DO NOT watch the Russian the Olympics. Boycott the Russian Olympics and EVERY athlete who refuses to walk away from the event as well as every sponsor. Equality is bigger than the Olympics.

  10. alex says

    It’s easy to tell other people what to do, Mike. Are you willing to quit your job (or drop out of college) in protest? That’s basically what you are asking of them.

  11. adrenan p says

    Should we really be surprised by these athletes’ responses? This is the generation that thinks Britney Spears and Katy Perry are good singers. Totally brain-dead generation.

  12. Marc says

    Why is it so hard just to say, “This treatment of LGBT people is cruel, inhumane, disgusting, barbaric and a crime against humanity.” Why does anyone think they are walking on egg shells? Is it walking on egg shells to speak out against throwing people into a gas chamber? No. So why is this so difficult?
    Grow a pair.

  13. Robert says

    I think if any of you had to speak out against Russia at your JOB, you’d all be f’ing cowards.

    These people are young, some teenagers, and they didn’t get to pick where the Olympics are being held. GIVE THEM A BREAK. They’re NOT the enemies.

  14. MaryM says

    Ashley Wagner is a good person.

    The other 4 are collaborators with the fascist Russian persecution of gay people.

    I hope they come last in their events.

  15. bear says

    Turn NBC off. Turn the Olympics off. Encourage your friends and families to do so. And hound them during the two week fascist-musclle parade kown as sochi.

    All of America must show these corporate T.V. fascists that we will not stand by while the Lgbt Genocide is televised.

    We can do very little about the Private IOC inc.It’s filled with Nazi-Wannabes who dream of an Aryan-controlled planet once more.

    But a t.v. station broadcasting on OUR PUBLIC AIR WAVES must be brought down to their knees before they start advertising for Zyklon B gas during commercial breaks at Sochi. No kidding guys and gals.

    Turn NBC off. Tune the Olympics out when they arrive.

    Human lives are worth more than Fascist dogma.

  16. jomicur says

    Goddamn cowards. They obviously think their damn silly skating events are more important than the lives, rights and dignity of millions of Russian gay people. “I’m going to focus on myself” says it all. So much for the claim that “sports builds character,” huh?

  17. EJC says

    Has anyone checked the United States Figure skating judges they are sending to the Olympics,? Honey we have a panel whose feet have touched the ground in years! Check it out on the official USOC website and google the individuals, hello a Russian jail or better still a deportation before their events!

    Look into it !

  18. Randy says

    “I’m just an athlete…”
    “I’m not there to make a difference”
    “I think there is no right answer”
    “I really prefer to leave it up to [others]…”

    WEAK AS WATER!!

    Kiss those endorsements good bye.

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