Hockey game, gay-sports discussion, highlight Aspen's big event

DENVER, Colo. — Promoting a rivalry seems like an odd way to bring two parties together, but in the case of this event, it is the perfect way to illustrate similarities rather than differences. The Fifth Annual Aspen Friendship Cup 2008 will take place in Aspen, Colo., on January 19 at the Aspen Recreation Center as part of Aspen Gay Ski Week (January 13-20, 2008). This unique and highly anticipated event will pit an all-star gay hockey team against an all-star heterosexual hockey team in the tie-breaking game of the event’s history. Over the past four years the gay team and straight team have both racked up two wins, but the gay team has won the past two consecutive games leaving the straight team with something to prove, so this year packs even more excitement for the event’s producers, participants and spectators.

Through this event, organizers have shattered the stereotypes typically associated with gays in sports: that they are "sissies," can’t be valuable team members, and are afraid to get hurt. This "rivalry" has been instrumental in demonstrating the similarities between gays and heterosexuals when it comes to competitive team sports, especially with the two wins a piece so far.

"The Friendship Cup 2008 will feature the most elite players ever assembled for this winter sports classic," said Glenn Witman, captain of the gay team, G-Force and the event’s organizer. “We recruited heavily from the ranks of the International Gay and Lesbian Ice Hockey Association and hand-picked the cream of the crop, Witman said. "Our competition, the heterosexual Aspen Eurotrash All-Stars, have also upgraded their roster significantly in an attempt to end our domination of the event over the past two years. It promises to be a tremendous battle and our hope is to not only entertain, but to educate."

long with the world-class hockey game, the event will also include an entertaining discussion at the Wheeler Opera House, “Gays in Sports – The Invisible Athlete, “on Friday, January 18th at 6:30pm. The panel will include prominent members of the media and gay sports community such as LZ Granderson, senior writer for ESPN and host of the ESPN talk show “Game Night”, Ryan Quinn cross-country skier at the University of Utah and part of the 2003 NCAA championship team, as well as Cyd Zeigler, Jr. of who will be moderating. The panel will be co-sponsored by the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD).

Further, Witman also announced that independent film maker, Bob King will shoot a short piece about the G-Force players that will include action-packed and meaningful representations of the message the Friendship Cup 2008 brings. The film makers plan to follow the team around Aspen as they practice, spend down-time at the hockey house and attend various events during the week. Content will include an introduction to the players, backgrounds and storylines on 3-5 players with interesting and compelling personal histories, game highlights, as well as interviews and insights from some of the heterosexual players and fans.

"The exciting thing about events like the Friendship Cup is that you feel the ghost of the sissy-fag stereotype being exorcised once and for all," King said. The Los Angeles-based film maker is also the director of Psycho beach Party and The Disco Years, which has been incorporated into the acclaimed film trilogy, Boys Life: Three Stories of Love, Lust and Liberation.

"Our hope is to parlay this event, panel and documentary into a national tour to promote education, understanding and insight, as well as to facilitate discussion through sportsmanship in an open forum,“ says Witman, “This event is a rare opportunity to interact with the players and spectators from across the nation and we are proud to be part of one of the most significant social events of the year, Aspen Gay Ski Week."

The Friendship Cup 2008 hockey game and panel discussion are free and open to the public. For more information contact Glenn Witman at 303.756.5000 or [email protected].

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