Or, A List to Help You Cheer for the Team That Plays for the Other Team
[dropcap]S[/dropcap]ince the 2014 Winter Olympics are being held in a country where police officers arrest tourists and foreign nationals they suspect of being homosexual, lesbian, or “pro-gay” and detain them for up to 14 days, I wanted to see which athletes I should be cheering for as legal underdogs at the Sochi Games.
After fervent Google searching, I was surprised to find that there are only six openly gay athletes who will be competing at the 2014 Winter Olympics.
That’s right. Six athletes total.
All are women. None are American.
“What about Caitlin Cahow, my favorite female ice hockey player (and only female ice hockey player I can name) and member of the ‘controversial‘ U.S. delegation?,” you counter. She just completed her law degree at Harvard and retired in 2012 because of two concussions.
“What about three-time champion and openly gay figure skater Johnny Weir?!,” you implore. He didn’t register for qualifiers for the national championships where the Olympic team was selected, effectively ending his amateur career.
There are around 2,500 athletes competing in the Winter Games, and 230 of them belong to Team USA. With a total of six out LGBT Olympians, statistically, there must be many more in the closet. High-profile athletes keep their personal life private for a variety of reasons. I don’t blame the athletes who have chosen to stay in the closet, but I do celebrate the ones who decided to live openly and provide LGBT youth with the role models they sorely need.
Without further ado: your new Olympic heroes. Get ready to watch some ladies’ speed skating, snowboarding, and cross-country skiing. (And yes, it’s still called “ladies’,” not “women’s.” The term “ladies’” really manages to gives a dainty air to slopestyle snowboarding.)
Netherlands, Speed Skating
Competition: Five events — the 1,000m, the 1,500m, the 3,000m, the 5,000m and the team pursuit.
A Past Gold Medalist: Has won two Olympic gold medals: for the 3,000m in Turin in 2006 and the 1,500m in Vancouver. Check out this video of her and weep with envy. Just weep.
Canada, Speed Skating
Motto: “It’s more important to be a good person than a good athlete.” (Athlete, 17 Nov 2012)
Sanne van Kerkhof
Netherlands, Short Track Speed Skating
Competition: Short Track
Fun Fact: In 2012, she was named Sportswoman of the Year for Zoetermeer, Netherlands. (sannevankerkhof.nl, 1 Feb 2014)
Motto: “Go big or go home.” (spitsnieuws.nl, 01 Nov 2012)
A Sporting Family: Her wife Stine Brun Kjeldaas represented Norway in snowboarding and won a silver medal in half-pipe at the 1998 Olympic Winter Games in Nagano.
Competition: Snowboard Cross
Motto: “Have fun, take risks, get in after it.” (olympics.com.au, 24 Jul 2013)
Slovenia, Cross-Country Skiing
Competition: Cross Country Skiing
Learn more: Twitter
Have I missed anyone that should be included on this list? Let me know in the Comments section below.