The 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, already have proven historic for LGBT athletes, with a record three out gay men heading to the games. And that’s not even all the good news for Team LGBT. Here’s a first installment from The Advocate of how out athletes are faring in the lead-up to the games.
While it wasn’t the easiest entry onto Team USA, Adam Rippon last weekend made history as the first out figure skater to win a spot on the U.S. Olympic squad. “I can’t wait to represent my country and the LGBT community at the Olympics in Korea,” he told The Advocate. While plenty of figure skaters have come out after the end of their Olympic career, Rippon will be the first American to skate openly at the games. In fact, OutSports believes Rippon to be the first openly gay man selected for the Winter Olympic team for any nation for any sport. Rippon is also bravely outspoken.
It didn’t take long for a second figure skater to join the ranks of out skaters. Canada announced on Sunday that Eric Radford, who came out in 2014, and skating partner Meagan Duhamel would represent their nation at the games. The anything-but-shocking news came on the heels of the pair winning their seventh national title on Saturday. Now the two have their eyes on gold for their second and final Olympics.
Meanwhile, bisexual speed skater Ireen Wüst of the Netherlands has made the Olympic team for her nation for the fourth time and hopes to add three gold medals to her substantial collection, according to the AP. Wüst, who won four gold medals already at her first three Olympics, helped lead her nation in 2014 to winning more medals in long track than any other country competing in Sochi.
But there’s also been heartache leading into the games for some hopefuls. Luger John Fennell, who competed for Canada in the 2014 Olympics, had hoped to make the U.S. team this year and head to the games for the first time since coming out. Instead, his sled broke while he was competing at the Nations Cup in Lake Placid last month, which made his rankings slide downhill fast. That knocked him from a spot in the World Cup and from a chance to quality for the Olympic team, according to CBC.ca/Radio Canada.
Canadian John Epping and curling partner Sherry Middaugh also saw a shot at the games slide away following a poor showing at the 2018 Canad Inns Canadian Mixed Doubles Olympic Curling Trials in Manitoba, according to Epping’s hometown paper, The Peterborough Examiner. The skip would have been the first out gay man to represent Canada at the winter games.
And Spanish ice dancer Luis Fenero, along with skating partner Celia Robledo, finished third in Spain’s national championship, losing out on a chance to go to the Olympics, where the nation will be represented instead by Sara Hurtado and Kirill Khalyavin, according to Marca. But Fenero may be in Korea anyway in the audience cheering on Canada's Radford, his romantic partner.
There’s still plenty of news of LGBT athletes on the way. Notably, freestyle skiier Gus Kenworthy is expected to qualify later this week for Team USA, where he’s expected to be the first out gay male action sports athlete at the Olympics. He’s expected to compete in halfpipe and slopestyle at Mammoth Mountain before the U.S. ski team gets named Monday.