Olympic Skater Targeted by Animal Rights ExtremistsSpeaking
I’m admittedly something of an oddball when it comes to your stereotypes of the Southern Ohio farm boy. I eat Sushi, I listen to music ranging from Manilow to metal (or from Strait to Santana, if you prefer), I do wear Wrangler jeans, but I’m equally comfortable in a suit and tie. So, in that context, you might not be at all surprised to learn that I’m a fan of Olympic figure skating. Growing up in the heyday of skaters like Scott Hamilton, Kristi Yamaguchi, and Katarina Witt, our family would make a point to watch the Winter Olympics every time it rolled around, and made a particular point to watch the figure skating.
As fate would have it, I married into a family of figure skating fans. We’ve been to a few live skating shows over the years, great performances like Stars on Ice or Champions on Ice, but I’ve never been to the Olympics, or even to a true skating competition. I definitely have the Olympics on my “bucket list.” Lindsay and I have been watching parts of the Winter Olympics from Vancouver this weekend, including the great race in the Men’s Short Track Speed Skating in which the Koreans wiped out, leaving Americans Apolo Anton Ohno and J.R. Celski to win Silver and Bronze.
In all, the United States leads the medal count at 6, with the Germans nipping at our heals with 4. The French have the most Gold Medals at 2, but as they say, this too shall pass.
In noting Olympic coverage this week, Lindsay and I were particularly interested to note that three-time U.S. Men’s National Figure Skating Champion Johnny Weir is the latest target of animal rights extremists. Weir, who is decidedly not one of my favorite skaters, is competing for the United States in Vancouver, and has drawn the wrath of PETA and their ilk for wearing fur as part of his costume at the U.S. National Championships. Offering to wear faux-fur at the Olympics, he’s instead opted not to wear fur at all because the self-styled “fashionista” doesn’t like the fake product.
“There was a lot of attention put on a tiny piece of fur,” said the 25-year-old, the 2008 world bronze medalist. “While I do understand anti-fur activists views about fur and the fur industry, they aren’t part of my life.
“One thing that is horrible is when somebody pushes a belief on you like a religion. I was definitely threatened and felt very threatened. People are nuts.
“I’m an easy person to pick on because I’m very open I like fur and I like things that come from dead animals. It’s easy put your cause against an athlete going to the Olympic Games, it’s good free publicity for these activists.
“I’m not a huge politician that gets these threats all the time. I mean I’m a figure skater. It’s not normal to receive a threat that really threatens your life. It’s a very scary thing.”
Weir is staying within the security of the Olympic Village because he says he couldn’t afford the security necessary to stay in an off-site hotel, due to the death threats he’s received from the animal rights activists. He says, however, that he will continue to wear fur, and that he plans to enter the fashion world after he hangs up his skates.