Cloudy future became rainbow for US skier

David Wharton, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Olympics

Sometimes Kenworthy must explain the sport to these newcomers. Sometimes they ask him why he doesn't win every time. He figures it is a small price to pay for being "the gay skier."

With all the success and financial gain that have come his way, there is also a sense of responsibility.

That means more than taking a few minutes to speak with fans. It means giving interviews and doing photo shoots, anything to get his message across.

The distractions might have cost him -- when the U.S. freestyle team was announced last week, he made the slopestyle roster but fell short in halfpipe. Still, when he and figure skater Adam Rippon arrive in South Korea, it is believed they will become the first openly gay Americans to compete in the Winter Olympics.

Kenworthy wonders if that will make a difference back home. He wonders what it would have been like to have a gay role model in sports when he was young.

"That would have given me so much hope," he says, "and saved me so much heartache."

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Those bright flags in the crowd? The support from people around him?

When Kenworthy twists and flips down the course in Pyeongchang, he will hope for more than style points. He wants to give some of that feeling back.

(c)2018 Los Angeles Times

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