Gus Kenworthy finishes 8th and says farewell to his Olympic career
After just scraping into the final of the freeski halfpipe, Gus Kenworthy has finished a credible 8th and announced that he is retiring from competitive skiing.
Kenworthy fell twice during the final, with Nico Porteous from New Zealand eventually taking the gold medal.
Announcing his retirement, Kenworthy paid tribute to how skiing had transformed his life.
“This sport and the Olympics and competing on a professional level has changed my life in ways I could have never imagined…” said Kenworthy. “I grew up in a town of 2,000 people, 48 kids in my graduating class. I’m gay. I felt like I just didn’t fit in in sport, and to be out and proud, competing at the Olympics and all of the opportunities that have come my way since the Olympics, I couldn’t be more thankful. I know that there’s an expiration date and I’m at that date.”
Who is Gus Kenworthy?
Gus Kenworthy represented the United States at the 2014 and 2018 Winter Olympic Games, winning a silver medal in slopestyle in Sochi in 2014. In 2018 in PyeongChang, he finished in 12th place.
For the Winter Olympics in 2022 – being held in Beijing – Kenworthy has switched teams. He is competing for the UK instead of the US. Kenworthy is able to make the switch as he already holds a British passport.
“I think for sure 2022 is my final Olympic Games and I decided I wanted to do it for my mum…” Kenworthy told the BBC.
Kenworthy’s mother is British. He was born in Chelmsford in England in 1991, but at the age of two the family moved to the US where his father was from. Kenworthy grew up and went to school in Colorado, and began skiing from an early age. He now lives in Los Angeles.
“I have no doubt in my mind that I could go back for the US but this is definitely going to be a much smoother approach for me…” Kenworthy said, countering speculation that he has made the switch as he may find it difficult to secure a spot on the US team for the Winter Olympics in Beijing. “This gives me a path where I’m not taking a place away from one of my friends in the US. I’m going to have a much more straight shot at going to the Games and I’ll get to compete again for the LGBT community but this time for GB.”
“My mum is British and for the last eight years she’s proudly waved the USA flag for me…” said Kenworthy, speaking to the BBC. “Now I’d love to wave the Union Jack for her. Getting back on the podium while representing Great Britain and the LGBT+ community would mean everything. Actually, it would be my crowning achievement.”
Kenworthy is a freestyle skier. He competes in slopestyle, halfpipe, and big air, winning his first AFP World Championships title in 2011.
Kenworthy was dating actor Matthew Wilkas for a number of years. A kiss that the couple shared on the slopes of PyeongChang at the Winter Olympics was broadcast around the world.
“It was such a tame kiss…” recalls Kenworthy, speaking to the BBC. “For sure I’d have made it more dramatic if I’d known it was going to be this big deal moment!”
“As a kid, if I’d seen that, it would have signalled to me that I was OK, that I was safe, there was a future for me. It would probably have saved me a lot of years of heartache.”
Kenworthy and Wilkas have since separated.
Politically active and outspoken, Kenworthy advocates for LGBTQ equality.