The Very Short List: Who Is Gay in the Olympics?
BY Michelle Garcia
January 30 2014 9:00 AM ET UPDATED: February 08 2014 1:51 PM ET
Mathematically, we know there are definitely more LGBT athletes heading to Sochi, Russia, than there are on this list. But after a few weeks of digging, asking around, and Googling, the crop of out athletes heading to Sochi for the Olympics includes, it seems, only six people. All six are women.
Conversely, by the time the 2012 games in London were over, there were about 25 athletes (and a coach) who were out. London is a safer place to be LGBT than Russia, where violence against LGBT people is growing by the day and a law is on the books barring so-called gay propaganda.
We'll be watching Team LGBT as the games play out, and we're hoping the roster grows in the days ahead. In the meantime, here's who we will be watching.
(MOST RECENT UPDATE, 2/7/2014: Cheryl Maas, a snowboarder from the Netherlands, was added to our roundup.)
Belle Brockhoff, Australia
When Russia banned LGBT "propaganda," 20-year-old Australian snowboarding prodigy Belle Brockhoff leaped out of the closet.
"I want to be proud of who I am and be proud of all the work I've done to get into the Olympics and not have to deal with this law," Brockhoff said last year.
Since then she said the Australian Olympic Committee has supported her journey to the games, though she said they didn't recommend she wave around a rainbow flag. Even as she's gearing up for Sochi, Brockhoff recently said, "After I compete, I'm willing to rip on [Putin's] ass. I'm not happy and there's a bunch of other Olympians who are not happy either."
Anastasia Bucsis, Canada
Bucsis was out at the last Winter Olympic games in Vancouver, but only a few months after Russia passed its antigay law, she reiterated that she was "proud to be gay."
“I could never promote that message of concealing who you are with all of this going on in Russia. I’m kind of happy that I did it on my own terms,” the long-track speed skater said.
Bucsis, who competed in the 2010 Vancouver Games, grew up in Calgary, the site of the 1988 Winter Olympic games. She said growing up in the wake of the Calgary Olympics inspired her, spurring her parents to get her to begin speed skating. Being closeted and not knowing any other speed skaters affected her performance in 2010, where she competed in the 500-meter event. She came out with the support of teammate Kaylin Irvine and now looks forward to Sochi's Olympic games. She's on the Canadian national team and has set a personal record this year.
Sanne Van Kerkhof, Netherlands
Short track competitor Sanne Van Kerkhof, has been on the Dutch national team, and competed in 2010 in the women's relay. Since Vancouver, Van Kerkhof seems to have hit her stride as a member of the relay team, as the Dutch women have won gold at the European Championships four years in a row since 2011 as well as the World Championships last year. She is part of the Dutch team that will be tackling the 3,000-meter relay.
Barbara Jezeršek, Slovenia
At the 2010 Winter Olympics, cross-country skier Barbara Jezeršek competed in the 10-kilometer and 15-kilometer races, as well as the 4x5-kilometer relay. She will be in Sochi representing Slovenia on the slopes.
Ireen Wüst, Netherlands
Speed skater Ireen Wüst won the gold for the Netherlands in 2010 in the women's 1,500-meter race at age 23, and four years earlier she won her first gold medal in the 3,000-meter speed skating event at the 2006 Olympic games in Torino, Italy. Now she's ready to hit the ice again for Team Orange in five events.
"I’ve skated for a long time now, and I competed in the last two Winter Games, so I know what to expect and I know how to race," she said to the International Olympic Committee recently. "Everyone has their own way, but for me I need to find the balance between being really focused and being relaxed. If I’m too nervous, I won’t be able to achieve my goal as it affects my body. I have to be relaxed, but focused; that’s what I prepare for mentally."
Cheryl Maas, Netherlands
This wife and mother has been the toast of dutch snowboarding for a decade. She started shredding on an artificial slope in Holland and has become one of the best female snowboarders in the sport. After years of representing her country in the halfpipe, Maas is going to focus on slopestyle competition in Sochi. And not to be outdone, her wife, Norwegian snowboarder Stine Brun Kjeldaas, won a silver medal in halfpipe snowboarding at the Nagano Games. At the last Olympic games, she provided commentary for the BBC.
Daniela Iraschko-Stolz of Austria takes 1st place during the FIS Ski Jumping World Cup Women's HS95 on January 25, 2014 in Planica, Slovenia.
KNOW SOMEONE WHO BELONGS ON THIS LIST?
Leave us a note in the Comments section below. Or contact Michelle Garcia on Twitter @mzMichGarcia. The list will be updated throughout the Olympics.