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U.S. Olympic figure skaters talk about Russia's anti-gay laws

September 30, 2013|By David Wharton
  • Gold medalist Evan Lysacek, shown during the 2010 Olympics, said he'd prefer to let the USOC comment on Russia's new anti-gay legislation.
Gold medalist Evan Lysacek, shown during the 2010 Olympics, said he'd… (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles…)

Park City, Utah — Figure skating has a history of gay and lesbian athletes and coaches, so it was no surprise when skaters at the U.S. Olympic Committee media summit in Park City, Utah, were asked about Russia's new anti-gay legislation.

"I'm so nervous to even talk about this," said Ashley Wagner, who said she has gay friends and family. "For me, [the law] is not something I personally agree with."

Other skaters were more cautious at a Monday morning news conference, saying only that they supported a USOC statement that encouraged American athletes to comply with the legislation but also characterized it as inconsistent with the Olympic movement.

"I really prefer to leave it up to them to comment," defending gold medalist Evan Lysacek said. "I feel one voice is most powerful."

The topic seems likely to come up a number of times this week as the USOC brings more than 100 American athletes to the summit to meet with reporters before of the 2014 Sochi Winter Games.

The Russian legislation threatens prosecution for anyone who supports gay rights in the presence of minors or in public displays such as parades. Russian officials have given mixed signals about whether it will be enforced at the Olympics.

"It's definitely a hot topic that will be addressed," skater Gracie Gold said.

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