Kaitlyn Weaver Teams With Adam Rippon on ‘Open Ice’ Film & Fundraiser
Author: Christine Linnell
Weeks after becoming only the fourth out woman in figure skating, Canada’s Kaitlyn Weaver is premiering a documentary and fundraising drive that brings together trailblazers in the sport, including Adam Rippon, the first openly gay athlete to win a medal at the Winter Olympics.
Executive produced by Weaver and launching at a virtual event on Saturday, July 3, Open Ice: Visionaries is an hour-long film about four figure skating stars, their personal stories, and the causes most important to them. Weaver’s goal is to inspire athletes to seek collaboration and connection in a sport that can be individualistic at times.
“If last year taught us anything, it’s that we have a lot that we need to pay attention to, and that when we come together as a group, anything is possible,” Weaver told The Advocate.
Her growing interest in philanthropy and activism was one of the factors that led her to come out as queer in June, along with fellow Olympic figure skaters Jason Brown and Paul Poirier. “I would be a hypocrite to say, ‘Stand up for what you believe in and love yourself,’ and not do it in my own life.”
Along with Rippon, who is supporting the Trevor Project, the film includes 1984 Olympic gold medalist Scott Hamilton and his Scott Hamilton CARES Foundation for cancer treatment, Olympian Kiira Korpi and Protection & Action for Children’s Rights in Sports, and Elladj Baldé supporting the Figure Skating Diversity and Inclusion Alliance. Ticket proceeds for the virtual event will go toward the four charities.
The film is directed by Adriana Pierce, with cinematography by Jordan Cowan and original music by Steven Jarmail, the music supervisor of Rosie O’Donnell’s Theatre Kids.
Weaver first organized the Open Ice Collective last April as a charity drive for COVID-19 relief, bringing together 60 of the world’s best skaters and raising more than $40,000. Rippon said Weaver was one of the most liked and respected people in the sport, and it was very like her to take action.
“When the pandemic started and so many skaters were at home and didn’t have access to training facilities, and then when it became even more real and there were a lot of skaters who had lost family members, it was really Kaitlyn who stepped up and wanted to do something for the skating community,” he said.
The friendships she formed through years of training and competition helped her lead conversations about important and sometimes difficult topics, Weaver said.
“There are people doing amazing things in all areas of our figure skating community, and they have so much in common. These legends that I’ve highlighted, they started from the ground level just like we do. I really want to empower the audiences to make a difference.”
Each skater’s segment will end with a short solo performance on the ice, with music composed by Jarmail. “It really feels like we go on a journey with each visionary, starting from the very beginning, and we watch as they make their way through the story, and then at the end it feels like we’re one with them. It feels like we’re in their world.”
For Rippon, using his segment of the film to promote the Trevor Project was an obvious choice.
“A lot of us [in the LGBTQ+ community] have reached out to other people and created our own spaces we can feel comfortable and safe in, and during the pandemic there was a lot of lost access to those communities. The Trevor Project is such an important part, because I have friends who have used it as an outlet, and I know it’s really helped a lot of people.”
Weaver saw Open Ice: Visionaries as a way to unite her public persona as an athlete and activist with her identity as a queer woman — a decision she reached after the pandemic put skating competitions on hold and forced her to reflect on her life and career.
“There’s only so long you can run from yourself. I had a lot of reckoning to do with my understanding and accepting my identity and my past. At that point, I decided to take real concrete steps moving forward, of course with the help of a therapist — #MentalHealthMatters! I was able to put one foot in front of the other, and that brought me to June of 2021, and it was just like, ‘You know what, it’s time. I need to stand up and be a visible athlete.'”
She received a lot of inspiration and support from Team USA’s Karina Manta and Amber Glenn, the two previous women skaters who came out to the world.
“We all have to go through our own journey, but they have such a liberated energy about them. They’re younger than me and they’re out here living their best lives, and it was very inspiring. I was like, ‘What am I waiting for? I’m over here nervous about what people are going to say, and I’m losing time.’ Life is too short to not be yourself.”
Rippon said that even in the four years since he competed at the Olympics, he noticed more acceptance for LGBTQ+ people in figure skating, and was moved to tears reading the coming out stories of Weaver, Brown, and Poirier during Pride Month.
“I hope that from my own experience and the way that I was really embraced by so many people at the Olympics, in some way it made other young skaters to feel more comfortable with their own story,” he said. “If there were so many other out queer athletes when I was young, I would have felt more comfortable in my skin so much sooner.
“I’m so excited for even younger kids coming up. It’s a completely different time than it was when I started skating 20 years ago.”
Original Article on The Advocate
Author: Christine Linnell