‘Stars on Ice’ skating tour says it is not excluding Weir because of sexual orientation

Monday, March 15, 2010

Tour says it is not discriminating against Weir

Claims that Olympian Johnny Weir was not included in the “Stars on Ice” cast because of his sexual orientation are not true, the figure skating tour said.

The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation started an online petition last week, saying Weir was being excluded from the tour because he was not “family friendly.” Weir has repeatedly avoided questions about his sexual orientation, saying people shouldn’t be defined by labels.

“We are disappointed that there is untrue and inaccurate information being disseminated,” Stars, which is sponsored by Smucker’s, said in a statement. “Please be assured that the ‘gender identity and sexual orientation’ of cast members has never been a consideration in the selection of tour performers.”

Weir, a three-time U.S. champion, is one of figure skating’s most colorful and oversized personalities, and his popularity soared after his sixth-place finish at the Vancouver Olympics. Tara Modlin, Weir’s agent, said she approached Stars about adding Weir to the cast and was told “not this year.”

Unlike the old “Champions on Ice” tour, where skaters did individual numbers, Stars is more of an ensemble show. Former U.S. champions Todd Eldredge and Michael Weiss have been longtime cast members, and Stars will also feature Olympic champion Evan Lysacek and current U.S. champ Jeremy Abbott this season.

“While Stars on Ice wishes it could accommodate many more talented skaters as part of our cast, the fact is we cannot sign every skater,” the Stars statement said.

Stars on Ice begins its 41-city tour April 1 in Fort Myers, Fla.

(This version CORRECTS SUBS last graf to correct to 41-city tour.)

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