Want to touch a real King? Try Simi, Valencia or PV on Saturday

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The Kings annual “Rink Tour” meet-and-greet will hit six Southern California-area ice rinks on Saturday from 2:30 to 4 p.m.

Different groups of Kings players, coaches and broadcasters will travel to each rink in for on-ice clinics with kids and autograph sessions. There’s no admission charge.

The rinks:

== Iceoplex in Simi Valley (131 West Easy Street, 805-520-7465)

== Ice Station Valencia (27745 N. Smyth Drive, 661-775-8686)

== Ice Chalet, Palos Verdes (550 Deep Valley Drive, Rolling Hills Estates, 310-541-6630)

== Aliso Viejo Ice Palace (9 Journey, 949-643-9648)

== Ice Town Riverside (10540 Magnolia, 909-637-3070)

== Pasadena Ice Skating Rink (300 E. Green Street, 626-578-0801)

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Take it again from (over the) top: We understand Johnny Weir’s Big Adventure isn’t done yet

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By Nancy Armour
The Associated Press

VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Johnny Weir is looking for understanding, not an apology.

Broadcasters on French-language RDS who made derogatory comments about the American figure skater’s masculinity need to consider the impact their words will have on
others, particularly impressionable youngsters, Weir said Wednesday.

“I want them to think before they speak. I want them to think about not only the person they’re talking about, but also other people like that person,” he said. “What people as a majority need to do is think, and think about who they’re affecting. …

“I don’t want, 50 years from now, more boys and girls to go through this same thing.”

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The Quebec Gay and Lesbian Council demanded a public apology from RDS after one
commentator said Weir hurts figure skating’s image and another said Weir should be
made to take a gender test. The remarks were “outrageous” and “homophobic,” CQGL said in a statement on its Web site.

Mark Tewskbury, a gold medalist in swimming at the Barcelona Olympics, called the remarks “totally unacceptable.”

“I think Johnny Weir adds a fantastic element to men’s figure skating,” Tewskbury said at a news conference at Whistler Pride House, a venue designed to support gay and lesbian athletes and coaches. “It doesn’t send the message that you have to be Johnny or be like him. It shows that all kinds of people take up figure skating, and all kinds of people can be excellent at figure skating.

“I was actually quite shocked that that is still happening in 2010.”

Although Weir said he found the comments “offensive,” he supports free speech and doesn’t think the broadcasters should be punished. He also doesn’t really care if people criticize him.

But he does worry that the broadcasters’ comments and the attitudes they foster will hurt kids who are different and are trying to find their place in the world. Or cause parents of those children to be less supportive.

“I hope more kids can grow up like I did and more kids can feel the freedom to express themselves,” he said. “Out of ugly, I think the most important thing in life is to make something beautiful.”

Weir is one of skating’s most oversized personalities, and he enjoys challenging convention. He was targeted by animal-rights activists after adding white fox fur to his free skate costume for last month’s U.S. championships, and he once posed for a
photo shoot in a skirt and stilettos.

But he repeatedly has avoided questions about his sexual orientation, and did so again Wednesday. People shouldn’t be defined by labels, Weir said.

“I don’t think the fact I’m a figure skater matters. I don’t think who I sleep with matters. I don’t think where I’m from matters. I want people to see me for who I am, not what I am,” he said. “I don’t feel there’s anything that anybody has to be out and about about. I think you should be out about being yourself. You need to be out and really own who you are.”

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Ruggiero wins IOC election

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Campaigning on a platform of trying to be a voice for the future of women’s participation in the Olympic movement, Simi Valley native and U.S. women’s hockey star Angela Ruggiero was one of two voted onto the International Olympic Committee’s athletes’ commission today.

Ruggiero will be joined by British bobsledder Adam Pengilly in landing an eight-year term and full IOC membership during that time.

In a statement issued through the USOC, Ruggiero said: “It is a tremendous honor to be voted by my fellow Olympians to become a member of the IOC Athletes’ Commission. I want to thank everyone who has put their faith and trust in me to represent them. I will do all I can to be a good ambassador of the Olympic Movement and represent athlete issues to the IOC – not just from North America – but from around the world.”

Scott Blackmum, CEO of the U.S. Olympic Committee, added: “We are very proud of Angela for the way she represents herself, her sport and the United States both on and off the ice. I cannot think of anyone better to represent the athletes at the IOC.”

Voting by Olympic athletes was held over the past three weeks at the Olympic villages in Vancouver and in the ski-resort town of Whistler. Pengilly received 615 votes; Ruggiero got 605. In third place was French skier Antonine Deneriaz (455 votes) from the nine candidates.

The athletes’ commission was created in 1981 and serves as the voice of the active athletes within the Olympic movement. It has 19 members – eight summer sports
athletes, four winter sports athletes, and the rest appointed by the IOC president to
ensure a balance in terms of gender, sport and region.

Ruggiero and Pengilly replace Pernilla Wibert of Sweden and Manuela Di Centa of Italy.

The 30-year-old Ruggiero, an assistant captain on the U.S. women’s hockey team as a defenseman, will be only the third American on the 114-member IOC board, with Anita de Frantz and Jim Easton. The athletes commission has had no U.S. representation since former volleyball star Bob Ctvrtlik’s term ran out in 2008. Former track star Edwin Moses has also served on the board.

Ruggiero told us recently that her previous involvement in the Women’s Sports Foundation and being an advocate of Title IX compelled her to nominate herself for IOC inclusion as she’s working toward a Masters degree in sports management at the University of Minnesota.

“I feel very fortunate to play in four Olympic Games and I’m thinking of ways to give back, to be a voice, especially for women’s athletics,” Ruggiero said last week. “I’m trying to make sure there are opportunities available for boys and girls. The Olympic movement has such power and the ability to be an international voice for sports. Sports is like music, it’s such an international language and speaks to many at once.”

A Twitter response posted on Ruggiero’s account (linked here) just before 5 p.m. said: “I was just elected by my fellow Olympians to the IOC Athletes’ Comm.! I am so honored!!

The commission meets at least once a year and serves as a link between active athletes and the IOC.

“I am so happy for Angela as this is something she’s been passionate about for a long time,” said Natalie Darwitz, captain of the U.S. Olympic women’s hockey team. “I’ve had the privilege of having Angela as a teammate at three Olympics and have seen the leadership qualities she’s brought to the sport of women’s ice hockey in the United States for many years. I know she’ll be a fantastic leader on the IOC Athletes’ Commission.”

Ruggiero, who has a degree in government from Harvard, has been involved in ProSports MVP Olympic Heroes Tour, Charles B. Wang Ice Hockey “Project Hope” in China, and Right to Play.

Ruggiero and her U.S. teammates will face Canada for the gold medal on Thursday. Ruggiero was on the U.S. gold-medal winning team at the 1998 Games, and has also won silver (2002) and bronze (2006) with the squad.

“I am very excited about this important responsibility and am honored to be among such high-esteemed Olympians and leaders in the worldwide Olympic movement,” Ruggiero said. “To receive this kind of an honor and play in the gold medal game with my teammates is the pinnacle of my career as an Olympian.”

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Dodgers’ 2010 TV schedule shakes out as usual, we must say

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Spillover from the latest divorce paperwork involving Jamie and Frank McCourt show that, somewhere down the road, if the man gets his way, the Dodgers are pointing toward forming their own TV network.

No stunner there. Most teams with a market base like L.A. should be doing the game. The model has already been established in New York, and enough teams have local clout to pull it off.

Meanwhile, in the TV schedule released today by the team, about two thirds of the Dodgers’ regular-season games in 2010 — more than 100 — will appear on long-time cable partner, Prime Ticket, with the other third on KCAL-Channel 9, and the rest on either a national or regional telecast by Fox (KTTV Channel 11) or ESPN.

As usual.

The Dodgers and Prime Ticket (previously named FSW2) have been partners going into their 14th season, and will continue its “Dodgers Live” pregame and postgame. KCAL, which has about 50 games, many of them on Tuesday nights home and away, climbs into the mix for its fifth season and wil lhave its “Think Blue TV” pre and post-game shows.

Games already taken by Fox (KTTV-Channel 11) are on Saturdays, April 17 (vs. San Francisco), May 22 (vs. Detroit), June 19 (at Boston), June 26 (vs. New York Yankees), July 10 (vs. Chicago Cubs), July 17 (at St. Louis), July 24 (vs. New York Mets), July 31 (at San Francisco) and Sept. 18 (vs. Colorado), with some games to be announced. ESPN has already claimed the Sunday, July 11 game vs. the Chicago Cubs and could add more.

Several dates on the Dodgers’ schedule are listed as TBA, leaving them open for first choice by the networks.

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Live, from Vancouver, it’ll be NBC airing U.S.’s hockey semifinal Friday

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Nearly immediately after the U.S. men’s hockey team defeated Switzerland today 2-0 in the quarterfinals of the Winter Olympics tournament, NBC announced today that Friday’s semifinal contest against the winner of the Finland-Czech Republic game will be broadcast live in all time zones.

The noon start in Vancouver means a noon start on KNBC-Channel 4, rather than a three-hour delay, as Wednesday’s game was aired. Live coverage of the U.S. win over Switzerland was videostreamed live on NBCOlympics.com.

There is reason to believe that if the U.S. makes it to the gold-medal game on Sunday at 12:15 p.m., it will also be carried live on KNBC-Channel 4.

The Czech Republic-Finland game airs live today on CNBC starting at 7 p.m.

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Flying wieners can put your eye out in K.C.

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The Associated Press

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Baseball fans who sit six rows behind the third-base dugout at the Kansas City Royals’ stadium know they might have to duck a few foul balls.

But a Kansas man says it was a flying hot dog, not a baseball, that almost put his eye out last year.

John Coomer has filed a lawsuit against the Royals seeking more than $25,000 for injuries he sustained Sept. 8 when he was smacked in the eye with a hot dog chucked by the team’s mascot, Sluggerrr.

Coomer said the wayward wiener caused a detached retina and the development of cataracts in his left eye.

The Royals declined to comment Tuesday. The team is looking for someone new to wear the mascot’s large lion costume, spokesman Toby Cook says there’s “no connection” with the hot dog affair.

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AVP names Mike Dodd its new commish

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Mike Dodd, one of pro beach volleyball’s all-time greatest players, was named commissioner of the AVP today, CEO Jason Hodell announced.

The Manhattan Beach native and resident out of Mira Costa High won 75 titles over an 18-year career (1980-’97), including silver medal at the 1996 Summer Olympics with the late Mike Whitmarsh. Dodd is second all-time in tournaments played (337), sixth in titles and fourth in career earnings ($1.67 million).

“Mike is the perfect fit for a strategy of embracing the core volleyball community,” said Hodell. “His skills as a player, coach, broadcaster and ambassador are world class.”

Dodd says he comes into this position “humbled … One of my goals is to usher in an era of cooperation between the AVP, USA Volleyball, FIVB, and of course all our grass roots organizations and affiliate partners. I believe by working together, we can all better serve the sponsors and players we represent.”

Dodd, 53, was the coach for AVP stars Jake Gibb and Sean Rosenthal at the recent Beijing Olympics. He also captained Team USA to a win over Brazil’s best players in the inaugural AVP World Challenge last September.

Dodd is a five-time Manhattan Beach Open winner, with Tim Hovland (’82, ’83, ’84, ’85 and ’87). In 2009 he became the first to coach the men’s and women’s champions of the same Manhattan Beach Open (Gibb and Rosenthal on the men’s side and Nicole Branagh and Elaine Youngs on the women). He also has been doing broadcasting for NBC’s AVP coverage.

Leonard Armato has been the highest-profile AVP commissioner until he resigned in April, 2009. Armato had built the AVP from six events in 2002 to 31 events in 2008. Hodell had been acting commissioner since then. The AVP released a 12-event tour for this summer, beginning in April (linked here). Dodd actually played in one of his first beach events with Armato, the 1975 Marine Street Men’s Open and finished seventh.

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The book on Jerry West: His likes, dislikes, and more dislikes…

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Five quick things you’ll learn after reading the 1-pound “Jerry West: The Life and Legend of a Basketball Icon” by Roland Lazenby, which hit bookstores today ($28, ESPN Books, 448 pages, linked here):

== West, on his relationship with Phil Jackson, and how it played in West leaving the organization’s front office: “People think I hate Phil Jackson. I don’t hate him. I really didn’t know Phil. We are so different in terms of how he interacts with people. I was used to kidding around with people . . . Phil was just different.”

== West, on having to fire Pat Riley as coach in the early ’90s: “People think I hated Pat Riley or didn’t like him. That’s not true either. . . There are certain coaches that draw attention and want attention. And there are others that don’t. I think the ones who don’t want it, their natures are different. Pat is a little bit more flamboyant in his approach to things . . .”

== West, on when the Lakers moved from the Forum to Staples Center in 1999: “I’m not sure (owner) Jerry Buss realized how important that was. It was a license to print money. Jerry had been a great operator and a terrific owner. We used to talk almost every day when he was in his office. But then he quit coming to the office.”

== West, hired as the Lakers coach in 1976, tried to talk then-owner Jack Kent Cooke into acquiring Julius Erving, to play alongside Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, when the ABA folded that year. The Philadelphia 76ers made it happen instead. “We could have gotten Julius Erving,” West says. “That’s the only time I ever got involved. I told Mr. Cooke, ‘You should take this guy. . .’ He told me it wasn’t my money; it was his money. So be it. I never talked to him about those things anymore.”
West later admits, even after admitting that he set aside his differences later with Cooke before Cooke’s death: “Nevertheless, I really didn’t like Jack Kent Cooke.”

== A sexy excerpt that has been circulating in pre-book release had to do with Magic Johnson’s sexual escapades with the Lakers, where the team sauna at the Forum was a place for him and other players to entertain women, even right after games, before Johnson would put on a robe and do post-game media interviews. Said West: “I cared. I did things for those guys. It was ridiculous, some of the things I did for those guys. If the public knew, they’d be outraged. It was a pretty crazy period for us.”

Lazenby has since address that excerpt (linked here) on his “Laker Noise” blog to try to give it some context.

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Your summer of AVP: Half the time in California, the other half wondering why there aren’t more events anywhere

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The 12-stop AVP pro beach volleyball tour broke out its schedule with a mid-April start date, a mid-September end date and a lot of holes in between.

Santa Barbara (April 29-May 2), Huntington Beach (June 3-6), Hermosa Beach (July 16-18), Malibu (July 24-25), San Francisco (Aug. 14-15), Manhattan Beach (Aug. 19-22) and a yet-to-be-announced South Bay site (Sept. 17-19) make up half the schedule.

The other stops: Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. (the April 16-18 opener), Virginia Beach, Va. (June 18-20), Belmar, N.J. (June 25-27), Chicago (Aug. 27-29) and Mason, Ohio (Sept. 3-5).

Nothing on Fourth of July weekend? Hmm…

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This is another year where the AVP realizes it needs to produce some new blood. The Santa Barbara event is partnered with CBS College Sports Network and the American Volleyball Coaches Association for the fifth annual "ALT GAMES: Collegiate Beach Volleyball Championship" showcasing the nation's top women's collegiate volleyball players on May 1-2.

In Hermosa Beach, the event is paired with the "AAU Best of the Beach" (July 17-18) and in conjunction with the inaugural All-American Volleyball Sand Showcase Camp (July 12-14) for advanced girls ages 13-18.

The AVP is also trying to do more with less by having a larger Qualifier Tour, a Developmental ("U26") Tour, AVP/California Beach Volleyball Association (CBVA) qualifiers and the Barefoot Wine AVPNext Series. The Qualifier Tour will consist of nine two-day tournaments offering AVP main draw points and prize money. The winners of a July 3 CBVA tournament in Santa Barbara will receive automatic main draw entry into the Hermosa Beach Open.

More details: www.AVP.com

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Ruggiero’s next reality show pursuit: Racing through Antarctica airports

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She’s already been around the world on philanthropic endeavors, including helping the New York Islanders with a program to help China improve its hockey program. And she’s been in Donald Trump’s boardroom, lasting until the final three on the 2007 season of “The Apprentice.”

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So a story in today’s Sports Business Daily reveals that Simi Valley’s Angela Ruggiero has been pitching her agent to get her a spot on the CBS reality show, “Amazing Race,” paired up with U.S. Olympic gymnast Shawn Johnson, shouldn’t be all that surprising.

Both are clients of agent Sheryl Shade, of Shade Global (linked here), whose Olympic clients include Paul and Morgan Hamm, Bela Karolyi, Blaine Wilson, Chellsie Memmel plus Mia Hamm and Kristine Lilly.

“The two of them, then nag me constantly (about ‘Amazing Race,’) Shade told SBJ writer Erik Swanson about Ruggiero and Johnson.

The SBJ story points on that Ruggiero has built up “an impressive endorsement portfolio” featuring Nike, Visa, Coca-Cola, Easton and Qwest Communications. Shade said that going forward, Ruggiero has a focus on expanding women’s hockey with young girls.

“Olympic sports sponsorships aren’t always about the money,” Shade said. “It’s the opportunities they can offer and where they can take her. …”

It’s not like you’re going to confuse Angela Ruggiero with Angela Lansbury.

“She’s got the goods, and she’s got the substance behind her,” Shade says of her client. “And she’s very good with the press and the media. This is a sport where sponsors every day want to make sure that whomever they choose to have an association with their brands can actually talk and do the messaging correctly. And I think that’s one of the reasons they look at her.”

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