Two high-profile American Olympic-caliber figure skaters were asked about the new anti-gay laws in Russia. One, though nervous, took a stand, while the other punted.Two-time women's champion Ashley Wagner told Kelly Whiteside of USA TODAY:
"For me, I have gay family members and I have a lot of friends in the LBGT community. I'm even so nervous to talk about this," she said with a small laugh. Then with heartfelt eloquence, she found her footing.
"I have such a firm stance on this that we should all have equal rights," said the two-time national champion. "I obviously don't 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.
"But I believe the best way you can really show your support for your community is to speak about it. I do think the Olympics are an opportunity for us as athletes to go in and show what we can do with our sport."
In contrast, defending men's Olympic gold medalist Evan Lysacek hid behind the U.S. Olympic Committee:
Lysacek said he stood behind the U.S. Olympic Committee's assurance that everyone's rights during the Games would be protected. "I prefer to leave it up to them to comment because I think one voice is the most powerful with political matter like this," Lysacek said.
Though figure skating is believed to have more gay athletes than any other Olympic sport, the other figure skaters at Monday's USOC media summit -- Max Aaron, Gracie Gold and Agnes Zawadzki -- followed Lysacek's lead.
Wagner did not issue any stern rallying cry, but she did speak out against the homophobic laws. Lysacek, in contrast, was mute, and his reasoning is so wrong. One voice is not more powerful than dozens of voices speaking out, especially someone of Lyscek's stature; no one cares what the USOC says in a PR statement. Skier Bode Miller, who called the new laws "embarrassing," showed how it is done.
Sadly, Miller and Wagner were in the distinct minority in speaking out. The AP said almost all the 30 athletes at the media session echoed what Lysacek said. Bobsledder Steve Holcomb, for example, said something that made no sense:
''A lot of people were talking about boycotting it and my two cents on it is: Boycotting it, that's exactly what the Russians want. Do you know how excited they would be knowing I'm not going to show up at the Olympics? Sweet! Gold medal, right there.
''It would be so much better to go over there and kick their butt. That, right there, would say so much. That's just my opinion.''
Huh? It would only "say so much" if Holcomb came out as gay. Otherwise, him winning would tell the world nothing except he's just another athlete not willing to take a stand.