By Michelle Garcia
Originally published on Advocate.com February 06 2014 8:00 AM ET
Boitano and Brook Shields at the People's Choice Awards, 1988
1. Boitano got his skating start as a "daredevil roller skater on the sidewalks of Sunnyvale, Calif." Eventually, he started pretending that his driveway was ice, and he'd pretend he was skating as Rudolph Valentino (with a cape, of course), starring in a show with Peggy Flemming. He wore his skates into the ground — even after they became too small for his feet, he cut holes in the boots of the skates to accommodate his growing body. By the time he was 8 and a half, he entered his first ice competition, in the Pixie Derby Boys division.
2. In 1988, Boitano got to fulfill his dream of skating on a glacier. It was for a photo shoot. "At one point, the director wanted a shot of me sliding into the snow and then just lying there. He told me to lie in the snow and that the helicopter would pull back and get a shot from the air. So I slid into the snow and waited. The helicopter didn’t budge, so I kept waiting. I was getting colder and colder, but I didn’t want to get up and ruin the shot, because I knew I’d have to do the whole thing over again. Finally, the assistant ran out with the thermal blanket, yelling, 'Enough, enough! He’s not moving!' Maybe she thought the director had killed me."
3. When facing a pickle, the boys of South Park looked to the folk hero version of Brian Boitano. Sorry if this gets stuck in your head for the rest of the day, because this song is just really catchy. So catchy, in fact, that the name of his cookbook and Food Network show is What Would Brian Boitano Make?
4. After a stunning figure skating career, Boitano turned to his other passion: food. He said that his travels around the world during his skating days opened his eyes — and palate — to so many different types of food. "The fact that I had to stick to a strict training diet while competing made me even more receptive to different foods," he said. "So in between tours when I was home I started teaching myself to cook, and it took off from there."
5. Days after Boitano was named to the delegation representing the U.S. at the Sochi Games, he publicly announced that he is gay. "I am many things: a son, a brother, and uncle, a friend, an athlete, a cook, an author, and being gay is just one part of who I am," Boitano said. "First and foremost I am an American athlete and I am proud to live in a country that encourages diversity, openness and tolerance. As an athlete, I hope we can remain focused on the Olympic spirit which celebrates achievement in sport by peoples of all nations." He later told the San Francisco Chronicle that previously, he didn't think he needed to come out, especially since he considers himself to be a somewhat private person. "But to be part of that delegation, I needed to step off the plane representing my country and the message solidly. I couldn't be ambiguous about it."