This year, LGBTQ Olympics fans can root for the country of their choice, or for the out-and-proud athletes competing from around the world.
All eyes will turn to Pyeongchang County, South Korea this weekend, as nations gather for the 2018 Winter Olympic Games, held Feb. 9 – 25. And this year more than ever, gay and lesbian athletes will be representing their countries — and, to a degree, the LGBT community worldwide. Here are a half-dozen of those with the highest profiles:
Gus Kenworthy (USA)
Kenworthy will be on the medal hunt in freestyle skiing. He’s the youngest of three boys (his older siblings are Hugh and Nick), and the offspring of English mum Pip Tyler and an American father, Philadelphia banker Peter Kenworthy. The family is well familiar with the snow since Peter has been the executive director of the Mountainfilm film festival in Telluride since 2006. That’s where Gus finally got his high school diploma in 2010 (a year late after taking a year away from school to focus on his skiing).
Kenworthy placed second at the Sochi, Russia Olympics in 2014 and earned his first medal (bronze) in the Slopestyle event, at the X Games in Tignes, France. In 2015, he came out as gay in an ESPN interview, and later told reporters that he wanted to make a statement publicly “in my words once and for all — and hopefully help kids that are in the same position I was.”
Belle Brockhoff (Australia)
Brockhoff is seeking gold in Snowboard cross. The Australian snowboarder has previously represented Australia at the FIS Snowboarding World Championships and the Winter Olympics. She also dazzled spectators with her performances at the 2013 FIS women’s snowboard cross, then again at the Winter Olympic snowboard cross in 2014.
In the late summer of 2013 Brockhoff came out as lesbian, in part to publicly declare her endorsement of a campaign called Principle 6, part of a larger group of Olympic protests against anti-gay laws and the general clampdown on LGBTQ right in Russia. In fact, she’s so outspoken on the issue, she’s felt it wise to tell the press that she’ll be careful about what she says while competing at the games, lest it cost her a victory due to arrest.
Ireen Wüst (Netherlands)
Würst will compete in long track speed skating. openly bisexual, Würst married Letitia de Jong last year. Twelve years ago this month. She won a gold medal in the 2006 Winter Olympic Games 3000-meter event, and she was only 19 at the time. As such, Würst remains the youngest Dutch Olympic champion in Winter Games history. At the next Winter Olympic Games in 2010, she won the 1500-meter event, and only seemed to improve n the 2014 Winter Olympic Games where she took home two gold and three silver medals. In a country known for being competitive at the Winter Olympics, Würst remains the country’s most successful athlete to date. In addition, she also holds titles as a six-time world all-round champion, five-time European all-round champion and the 12-time world single distance champion. In 2014, Reuters named her the Sportswoman of the World.
Eric Radford (Canada)
Eric Radford is vying in a the competitive field of pairs figure skating, alongside partner Meagan Duhame. Radford has an impressive resumé: He’s a two-time world champion (after winning back to back titles in 2015 and 2016), brought home Olympic silver in the team event, and is also a two-time Four Continents champion (2013, 2015), as well as the 2014–15 Grand Prix Final champion, and holding the title of Canadian national champion (2012–18) for seven years in a row.
Radford has led a nomadic life. After being born in Winnipeg, Manitoba and raised in Balmertown, Ontario. Barely into his teens, he moved to Kenora, then back to Winnipeg and on to Montreal a year later. By 16, he was studying music in Toronto at York University (from which he holds a Grade 9 Royal Conservatory of Music certificate). Radford plays piano, writes and composes music and os has been registered as a member of the Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada since 2014. As such, he composed the 2016–17 free skate music for fellow Canadian skater and three-time world champion Patrick Chan.
At the end of 2014, Radford confirmed to an LGBT publication called Outsports that he is gay. In so doing, he broke a barrier faced by all those preceding him. Radford became the first competitive figure skater to leave the closet while still eligible as a title contender. At the 2015 World Figure Skating Championships, Radford and Duhamel’s gold medal win in pairs skating the 2015 World Figure Skating Championships made him the first openly gay figure skater ever to win a medal at that competition. He remains an ambassador for the Canadian Olympic Committee’s #OneTeam program to combat homophobia in sports. Last summer, Radford also became engaged to his boyfriend, Spanish ice dancer Luis Fenero.
Adam Rippon (USA)
Rippon’s search for Olympic Gold centers on his abundant talent and formidable skills is a figure skater. In 2010, he won the Four Continents competition and 2016 became the U.S. national champion. Rippon is seeing results from years of hard work and promise after he won the 2008 and 2009 World Junior Championships, the 2007–08 Junior Grand Prix Final and the 2008 U.S junior national title. Earlier this year. Rippon was selected to represent USA at the 2018 Winter Olympics, making him the first openly gay American athlete to qualify for any Winter Olympics.
Beyond gold, Rippon is also mulling over what might happen in South Korea if he runs into another U.S. representative in attendance. Oval Office Occupant-in-waiting Mike Pence. Says Rippon, “I would march right up to him and introduce myself to him and be like, ‘I’m the gay athlete that your press secretary sent a message about.’ And I would just introduce myself because I’m not invisible.”
Daniela Iraschko-Stolz (Austria)
Iraschko-Stolz is looking to meal as a ski jumper. As one of the most successful female athletes in her sport, she won the 2014-15 women’s World Cup season, and holds the record for the third most individual female World Cup wins — a dozen since last March. Iraschko-Stolz also held the women’s ski flying world record of 200 m (660 ft), and to date remains the only woman to reach that distance.
A ski jumping competitor since 2000, she earned renown for her three individual victories at the Holmenkollen Ski Festival (from 2000-03). In 2003, she became the first woman to fly over 200 meters during practice for a World Cup event on the ski flying hill in Kulm. It’s a women’s world record still standing today.Then during the 2009–10 season, she won the women’s Continental Cup. She also won a gold medal at the 2007 Winter Universiade in Turin, then again at the 2011 Ski Jumping World Championships in Holmenkollen, and silver at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. At World Cup level, Iraschko-Stolz racked up nine individual wins and finally finished second overall in the first ever 2011-12 women’s World Cup season.
Last modified: February 12, 2018