— The Associated Press

VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Johnny Weir is staying at the Olympic village because he was concerned about his safety after receiving what he considers ”very serious threats” from anti-fur activists.

Weir talked about staying in a hotel because he didn’t enjoy his experience in the Olympic village four years ago, but security has become his main concern.

”I felt very threatened,” he said Saturday. ”I’m not allowed to say how everything got through, but my agent got letters and faxes and e-mails. I got letters at the ice rink, somebody found my phone number.

”All these crazy fur people. Securitywise, to stay in a hotel would be very difficult. There have been threats against me. I didn’t want to get hurt.

”I’m just an easy person to pick on because I like fur. It’s easy to put your case against an athlete who is going to the Olympics. It’s a very good, easy thing for these activists.

”It’s a very scary thing. I’m a figure skater, I’m not some huge politician who gets these things all the time.”

Weir drew the ire of animal-rights activists last month after he added white fox fur to the left shoulder of his costume for the free skate at the U.S. figure skating championships. After nationals, he said he would wear faux fur in Vancouver.

”It was not because I was pressured to change it, but because I don’t like faux fur,” Weir explained. ”I didn’t change the costume, I’m just switching back to another costume.”

The men’s short program is Tuesday and the free skate is Thursday.

Weir’s career has stagnated since the 2006 Olympics, where he was second after the short program and then plummeted to fifth. He missed the bus to the rink for the free skate in Turin, which he admitted unnerved him.

So how might these threats affect Weir, who finished third at nationals to grab the final U.S. spot for the Olympics?

”I don’t think anything overpowers my skating,” Weir said. ”This costume controversy was silly. It didn’t change my opinion about anything, it didn’t change my life.”

MORE THAN 200 masked Olympic protesters splattered red paint and smashed windows of a popular downtown department store on the first day of competition at the Vancouver Games.

Police said the group marched through the upscale shopping district, vandalizing cars and stores. Witnesses said protesters threw metal newspaper boxes into the display windows of Hudson’s Bay Company, where Olympic souvenirs are sold.

Police in riot gear quickly moved in and quashed the protest. Police Chief Jim Chu said seven protesters were arrested on a variety of charges, and they were being processed.

THE NIELSEN CO. said an estimated 32.6 million people watched Friday’s opening ceremony. That’s up 48 percent from the 22.2 million people who watched the first night of the 2006 Winter Games in Turin, Italy.

Only the Lillehammer Games of 1994 had a larger U.S. audience for its opening ceremony.

THE MAN who designed the Olympic luge course on which a Georgian slider was killed said he is shocked by the death and that the track’s walls may have to be raised.

Udo Gurgel told Sport-Bild magazine’s online edition: ”We’ve already designed six Olympic courses. No one has been thrown from the track before.”

Nodar Kumaritashvili crashed coming out of the final turn during a training run Friday.

Officials in Whistler, British Columbia, have modified the final curve where Kumaritashvili crashed, erecting a wooden wall over the steel beams.

CANADIAN HOCKEY officials could wait until early Monday when rosters must be set to decide whether injured Anaheim Ducks center Ryan Getzlaf will play in the Olympics.

Getzlaf sprained his left ankle against the Kings on Monday night. Executive Director Steve Yzerman said that ”ideally we’d like to see him play” today at Edmonton, Anaheim’s last game before the Vancouver Olympics.

Yzerman called the injury ”tricky” because it’s one that often recurs.

OLYMPIC ORGANIZERS at rainy Cypress Mountain have called off snowboardcross training in an attempt to preserve the course for races Monday and Tuesday.

Steady rain pelted the course and the adjoining halfpipe Saturday afternoon, a few hundred feet up from the area where the women’s moguls were scheduled to begin later that evening.