Ski Town Roundup: Safety in Sochi and skiing in the U.K. |

Ski Town Roundup: Safety in Sochi and skiing in the U.K.

Compiled by Lauren Glendenning
Activists stage a theatrical play where gay people are restrained by others wearing masks depicting Russian President Vladimir Putin, during a protest against Russia's new law on gays, in central London, Saturday, Aug. 10, 2013. Hundreds of protesters, called for the Winter 2014 Olympic Games to be taken away from Sochi, Russia, because of a new Russian law that bans "propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations" and imposes fines on those holding gay pride rallies. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis))

Athlete safety concerns rise in Sochi

DENVER — Concerned with Russia’s new anti-gay laws, leaders at the U.S. Olympic Committee are in discussions with the International Olympic Committee and the U.S. State Department to ensure the safety of athletes at the Sochi Olympics.

In a letter to Olympic constituents, USOC CEO Scott Blackmun wrote that because the Russian law is new “we do not know how and to what extent (it) will be enforced” during the Olympics. But he said the safety and security of American athletes is always a primary concern. He referenced the Olympic Charter, which prohibits any form of discrimination, and said the USOC will gather as much information as it can to pass on to its athletes, and other Americans traveling to Russia, in the coming months.

In June, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a law banning “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations” and imposing fines on those holding gay pride rallies.

On Thursday, Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko said that all athletes’ rights would be respected during the Olympics but also said athletes would “have to respect the laws of the country.”

In the letter addressed to several U.S. Olympic organizations and dated July 25, Blackmun wrote, “Like us, the IOC recognizes the seriousness of the issue, and they are in discussions with the Russian authorities on behalf of all nations to ascertain what the laws do and do not proscribe and how they could impact visitors to the Games.”

The USOC is opposed to a boycott of the Games — a topic that has come up frequently in recent weeks, with the anti-gay law and tensions over Russia’s decision to grant Edward Snowden temporary asylum making headlines.

— The Associated Press

Austrian resorts become fans of artificial ski hill in Wales

South Wales — While the Austrian Alps have a reputation for being one of the world’s top ski resorts, it seems that an urban attraction is gaining a good name there.

Pembrey Ski Slope — the dry slope at Pembrey Country Park in South Wales in the U.K. — is visited each year by thousands of children from schools across South Wales preparing for their annual trip to the snowy hills of Europe.

More than 40 schools have been packing Pembrey’s slopes during the recent hot weather getting ready for planned winter snow trips.

But now is seems the artificial slopes are winning a reputation among the Austrian resorts — because of the advanced condition the students arrive in.

School teacher Kathleen Lawlor said they had 34 pupils returning to Alpendorf, near Salzberg, this winter.

“They always welcome us with open arms because even those among our troop who have not seen experienced ski snowing before have the Pembrey Ski experience,” she said.

— South Wales Evening Post

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