Live Olympics updates: USA takes on Canada in hockey, Shiffrin skis downhill

After representing the United States at the previous two Winter Games, Gus Kenworthy is skiing for Great Britain in Beijing. Credit… D...


Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

He has already competed in the Winter Games twice, but this year will be different for freestyle skier Gus Kenworthy. He has a new team and a new Olympic event: halfpipe skiing.

Kenworthy, who was born in Britain and grew up in Telluride, Colorado, said he started thinking about competing for his native country in 2012 as he prepared for the Sochi Games. A dual citizen, Kenworthy skied for the United States at the 2014 and 2018 Games.

Although he qualified for slopestyle skiing and halfpipe skiing in 2014, he lost his halfpipe spot when it was given to a teammate at a coach’s discretion prior to the Games. Competing only in slopestyle, Kenworthy won the silver medal in Sochi.

He qualified again in slopestyle in 2018 but just missed out on the halfpipe team. Kenworthy said he was hoping for a different outcome – or a training decision in his favor this time around.

“There is a fatigue factor” in enduring the rigorous selection process for the USA team, Kenworthy said, adding that he felt he had completely exhausted himself working to qualify in both disciplines.

Deciding to ski for Great Britain meant he could lock in the halfpipe event easier. “I have to train for the Games rather than training to qualify to compete,” Kenworthy said. He said he felt less pressure, which allowed him to focus more closely on his skiing.

“It’s a different experience to what I had at the last two Games,” he said. “So, I feel like I’m starting fresh.”

The decision, which he announced in 2019, also had an emotional factor. It was a way to honor his biggest fan: his mother.

“I want to do this for my mum,” said Kenworthy, whose mother is from a town outside Liverpool in northwest England. “She bent over backwards to make everything happen for me and my dreams come true.” He said he had a vision to raise the British flag from the podium in his honour.

The men’s halfpipe competition will begin with qualifying on Thursday, with the finals on Saturday at Genting Snow Park in Zhangjiakou.

Kenworthy said he was proud to be back for a third Olympics, a rare accomplishment for athletes who endure the physical fatigue of freestyle skiing.

“I have a track in mind that I think is unique to me and shows how I ski and how I approach the halfpipe,” he said. “I just want to get the race – and I think if I get it it will be fine. But I don’t want to put so much emphasis on what it means.

The only goal, he said, was to take advantage of that moment to finally compete in the halfpipe at the Olympics.

Medals aside, Kenworthy’s career began to transcend sports. He’s earned a following in the United States since 2015 when he came out as gay – a rarity in the world of extreme sports – and has booked acting and modeling gigs in “American Horror Story” and a Prada ad campaign.

“Looking back on my career, being able to compete as an athlete and become an advocate for the LGBTQ community has meant more to me than any medal or accolade,” he said. wrote on Instagram, reflecting on the start of his final Olympics. “I feel eternally grateful for this moment, this sport and this life.”



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Newsrust - US Top News: Live Olympics updates: USA takes on Canada in hockey, Shiffrin skis downhill
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