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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