Karine Jean-Pierre
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Grading the Out Olympians' Medal Count

Olympics

Yes, somehow the event described here as the “Queerest Winter Olympics Ever” wrapped appropriately with Adam Rippon and Gus Kenworthy, the first openly gay men to represent the United States at a winter games, sitting side by side shouting call-and-response to a K-Pop club hit. But the final days of the Olympics brought all sorts of great moments in sports and ceremony to the out athletes in PyeongChang.

Dutch speed skater Ireen Wüst, who on Sunday night acted as flag bearer for the Netherlands in her last great Olympic moment, this week added a silver medal to her already impressive neck-load of hardware. In the team pursuit event on Wednesday, the Dutch women broke their own Olympic record twice in the quarterfinals while coming in second to Japan. But the silver medal marked the 11th Olympic podium finish for Wüst over the course of four Olympics, making her the most decorated speed skater, Dutch Olympian, or openly LGBT Olympian (she’s dating skater Letitia de Jong) of all time. This games, she also picked up a gold in the 1,500-meter and a silver in the 1,000-meter.

 

The team pursuit event also saw American Brittany Bowe win her first medal, a bronze, after an upset over Canada. Bowe, who has discussed her relationship with skater Manon Kamminga, competed in her second Olympics and was also among the top five skaters in three individual events this year.

Emilia Ramboldt, a defender with the Swedish hockey team, wrapped up her games Wednesday in a 6-1 victory over the unified Korea team. This year marked a return to the Olympics for Ramboldt, who also played on the national team in 2010.

 

 

Out bobsledder Sophie Vercruyssen of Belgium, along with sliding partner An Vannieuwenhuyse, on Wednesday finished a surprising eighth in women’s bobsleigh, just a few years after starting in the sport. The best time for the team, 51.20 seconds, came in the final heat on Wednesday, lifting the Belgians into the top 10 at the event.

And gay Canadian figure skater Eric Radford and skating partner Meagan Duhamel took their final spin on the ice as Olympians at an exhibition gala closing the games. The two pulled out a forbidden-in-competition prop for an icy routine to Billy Joel’s “Piano Man.” The pair announced that after this Olympics, they would retire from competitive skating.

In total, four out of the 15 openly LGBT athletes leave PyeongChang with medals in hand. In figure skating, Radford at his final Olympic games won a bronze in pairs with Duhamel and a gold for Canada in the team event. Rippon was part of the bronze-winning American team of figure skaters. Also Rippon gave his mom a medal, turned down a broadcast deal with NBC, and started lobbying to host Saturday Night Live.

Kenworthy, despite a disappointing finish in in the slopestyle freeski, enjoyed some celebrity status and inspiration to out Olympians, whether getting press shout-outs from Belgian skeletoner Kim Meylemans or posing for selfies at the Pride House. And he managed to get a swipe in at Ivanka Trump and a chance sing-along with CL at the Closing Ceremony.

 

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