He has competed in the Winter Olympics twice before, but this year will be different for freestyle skier Gus Kenworthy. He’s got a new team and a new Olympic event: half-cross skiing.
Kenworthy, who was born in England and raised in Telluride, Colo., said he started thinking about competing for his birth country in 2012, while preparing for the Sochi Olympics. A dual citizen, Kenworthy skied for the United States at the 2014 and 2018 Olympics.
Despite qualifying for both downhill and half-cross in 2014, he lost his spot at the half-point when it was awarded to a teammate at the discretion of the coach before the Olympics. Competing only in ice skating, Kenworthy won a silver medal at Sochi.
He qualified again in the sloppy category in 2018 but almost made it to the team of the year. Kenworthy said he was hoping for a different outcome – or a decision by the coach in his favor this time around.
“There is an element of fatigue” in enduring the rigorous process of being on the USA team, Kenworthy said, adding that he feels he has been completely exhausted working to qualify for the whole season. two subjects.
The decision to ski for England means he could lock in tighter in the second half event. “I had to train for the Olympics, instead of train to qualify,” Kenworthy said. He says he has felt less pressure, allowing him to focus more on his skiing.
“It was a different experience than I’ve had in the last two Olympics,” he said. “So it feels like I’m starting fresh.”
The decision he announced in 2019 also has an emotional element. It’s a way to honor his biggest fan: his mother.
“I wanted to do this for my mother,” says Kenworthy, whose mother is from a town outside Liverpool, north-west England. “She bent over backwards to make everything happen to me and really make my dreams come true.” He said he had a vision of raising the British flag from her podium.
The men’s semi-finals will begin with qualifying on Thursday, and the final will be held on Saturday at Genting Snow Park in Zhangjiakou.
Kenworthy said he was proud to be back in the Olympics for the third time, a rare feat for athletes who endure the physical stress of freestyle skiing.
“I have a run that I think is unique to me and shows how I ski and how I approach the halfpipe,” he said. “I just wanted to land – and I thought if I landed, it would work just fine. But I don’t want to stress too much on what that means.”
The only goal, he said, was to enjoy the last moment of competing halfway at the Olympics.
Medals aside, Kenworthy’s career has already begun to transcend athletics. He’s been amassing a following in the United States since 2015 when he came out as gay – a rarity in the world of extreme sports – and signed up for acting and modeling gigs in “American”. Horror Story” and a Prada ad campaign.
“As I look back on my career, competing as a sports athlete and being an LGBTQ advocate means more to me than any medal or award. who could ever do it,” he wrote on Instagram, thinking about starting his last Olympic Games. “I feel forever grateful for this moment, this sport and this life.”
https://www.nytimes.com/live/2022/02/16/sports/olympics-medals-winter Winter Olympics 2022: Live updates, latest results and medal news