It’s official. More out athletes are set to compete at PyeongChang 2018 than have ever participated in a Winter Olympics before. The milestone was reached when Australia named its Olympic team last week, including cross-country skier Barbara Jezeršek and snowboarder Belle Brockhoff, as reported by The Australian.
For Jezeršek, this will be her third Olympics but her first competing for new homeland of Australia. At the Vancouver games in 2010 and Sochi games in 2014, the skier represented her native Slovenia, but she moved Down Under and in 2015 announced she would seek a spot on her new nation's team. Since then, she’s done well in the Australian ranks and proven herself by winning international competitions under the new flag.
Brockhoff was actually the bigger question mark this season thanks to a knee injury she suffered in 2017. But Team Australia went ahead and awarded Brockhoff a spot competing in snowboard cross, subject to a physician’s fitness check before competition. The good news is she’s been back on the board now, this weekend releasing recent video from Bridgestone.
With the addition of Brockhoff and Jezeršek to Australia’s roster, a total of eight out Olympians have been named to squads for their respective nations. That includes gay men for the first time, with skier Gus Kenworthy and skater Adam Rippon on the American team and skater Eric Radford representing Canada. Additionally, Dutch snowboarder Cheryl Maas, Austrian ski jumper Daniela Iraschko-Stolz, and Dutch speed skater Ireen Wust will all return to the Olympics representing their home nations. In Sochi, the previous record year for out participation in a winter games, seven out Olympians competed.
Iraschko-Stolz, by the way, also came back from an injury and just won the ski jumping World Cup in Slovenia this weekend. And while it’s still unlikely he will skate in Korea, out figure skater Timothy LeDuc and skating partner Ashley Cain did win the silver in pairs for the U.S. at the Four Continents Figure Skating Championships this year after winning the small gold in short program. The pair is designated as third alternate for the U.S. Olympic team.