Figure Skating - Winter Olympics Day -1

Documentary on LGBT Olympians secretly filmed at Sochi Games

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Johnny Weir was one of the breakout stars at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, giving his unique perspective as a figure skating analyst for NBC alongside Tara Lipinski. Out of the Iceberg Skating Palace, Weir was working on a different project — hosting “To Russia With Love,” a documentary about gay Olympic athletes.

Set to air on the channel EPIX on October 22nd, the film will feature Weir interviewing a number of 2014 Olympians who identify as LGBT: Australian snowboarder Belle Brockhoff, Swiss snowboarder Simona Meiler, Canadian speed skater Anastasia Bucsis, New Zealand speed skater Blake Skjellerup, and Canadian hockey player Charline Labonté.

Also appearing in the film are Billie Jean King, the tennis legend who was chosen by President Obama to serve as a member of the U.S. delegation to the Sochi Games, and Greg Louganis, the diver who won gold at the 1984 and 1988 Olympics.

The film was shot in New York City, Calgary, Toronto, St. Petersburg and Moscow as well as Sochi.

The Hollywood Reporter reports that director Noam Gonick did not seek permission from Russian authorities before filming in Sochi.

The summer before the Sochi Olympics, Russian president Vladimir Putin signed a law banning the promotion of non-traditional sexual relations toward minors in Russia. Many were worried that gay athletes or visitors would experience discrimination or prosecution while at the Games.

EPIX is bringing a documentary about gay athletes to the small screen that was partially shot during the Sochi Winter Games.

Olympic skater Nancy Kerrigan remembers slain Colorado officer, a childhood friend

Nancy Kerrigan
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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Former figure skating champion Nancy Kerrigan remembers the Colorado police officer who was killed in a shooting at a Planned Parenthood clinic as loyal, caring and a true friend.

She told media outlets that Garrett Swasey was “one of my best friends” as they grew up together practicing figure skating in Melrose, Massachusetts. Before he became a police officer, Swasey was a junior national couples ice dancing champion.

An emotional Kerrigan says she wasn’t surprised he took a career path where he helped others first. She says he always had fun and did everything with a smile.

Swasey’s father has told the Boston Globe that his son moved to Colorado in the 1980s to pursue competitive figure skating and became an officer six years ago.

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Kobe Bryant announces retirement but remains in contention for Rio team

Kobe Bryant
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Veteran basketball player and 2008 and 2012 Olympic gold medalist Kobe Bryant has announced he will retire from professional basketball after the end of this season. However, ESPN reported that the chairman of USA Basketball, Jerry Colangelo, said that Bryant “remains in contention for Team USA spot for Rio 2016.”

In the form of a poem titled “Dear Basketball” on the Player’s Tribune, Bryant wrote:

This season is all I have left to give.
My heart can take the pounding
My mind can handle the grind
But my body knows it’s time to say goodbye.

Bryant played on the U.S. national team from 2007 to 2012. At the 2008 Beijing Olympics he scored 20 points in the gold medal game to win gold over Spain. He helped the U.S. men to gold again in 2012, then said that it would be his last Olympics.

But he’s changed his tune in recent months. Bryant told the Associated Press in November that he’d like a shot at another Olympics.

“I would like to play,” Bryant said. “I think it’d be awesome. A beautiful experience.”

If he were selected and won again, Bryant, LeBron James, Chris Paul and Carmelo Anthony would become the first U.S. male basketball players to win three gold Olympic medals.

In the AP interview Bryant spoke glowingly of his Olympic teammates. “It would mean the world to me to be around those guys,” he said. “I think to be able to have a chance to continue the relationship that I already have with most of those guys, talking and just kind of being around each other and understanding that this is it, it’s just us being together, that would be fun.”

He also said he believes he’d be an asset to the team, stating, “I feel like I can add value from a leadership perspective and a defensive perspective. I can still move extremely well defensively.”

Bryant’s age will likely be a concern, as his 38th birthday is just two days after the gold-medal game on August 21st, 2016.

Colangelo said that they will be looking at “all of our players” this season, and Bryant’s retirement announcement “doesn’t have any bearing” on whether he’d be selected for the 2016 Olympic team.

The 12 player team will be selected in June 2016.

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