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Exclusive | Gus Kenworthy on whether heโ€™d repeat that kiss at the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics

The Essex-born Olympic skier to represent Team GB in China's capital city

2019-12-04

Words: Steve Brown

Olympic silver medallist Gus Kenworthy has officially joined GB Snowsport and has his eyes on representing Team GB in the upcoming Beijing 2022 Olympic Games.

The freeskier - and former Attitude cover star - made headlines back in 2018 after he kissed his ex-boyfriend Matt Wilkas during a live TV segment at the Sochi Games in Korea and has since gone on to become a vocal advocate of the LGBTQ community.

Now, in an LGBT media exclusive with Attitude, Gus opens up about the kiss, whether being in China would stop him repeating that moment and why he has decided to represent Team GB in the next Winter Olympics.

Why did you want to change from Team USA to Great Britain?

Basically, it’s my last Olympics. I’ve competed twice for the US, I’ve won a medal for the US, I feel quite proud to have done that, and I was raised in the US and consider myself American but I also consider myself a Brit.

I was born over here, my mum is British, and so, I wanted to honour my heritage and honour my mum, and she has stood at the bottom waving the American flag for me so I’d quite like to do the same but the opposite for her.

When you told you mum you were switching teams, what was her reaction?

My mum was pretty excited. I had said I would be done competing after the last games, and that was kind of my plan as I was struggling with injury and just didn’t perform the way that I wanted to in Korea, so it made it a little harder to walk away.

So I think she was excited regardless that I was planning on competing again because she is super supportive and loves watching me ski.

So she is thrilled I am doing it for GB and that she gets to have her sense of national pride watching me compete.

When you told you mum you were switching teams, what was her reaction?

My mum was pretty excited. I kind of had said I would be done competing after the last games and that was kind of my plan as I was struggling with injury and just didn’t perform the way that I wanted to in Korea, so it made it a little harder to walk away.

So I think she was excited regardless that I was planning on competing again because she is super supportive and loves watching me ski.

So she is thrilled I am doing it for GB and that she gets to have her sense of national pride watching me compete.

 
 
 
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How was your mum when you came out to her?

My mum has been so supportive like she was the first person in my family that I told. When I told her she was like, ‘Oh I know, I know’.

I was like, ‘Oh, Ok’. She had always been like, ‘Oh you know who is cute’ and would name off girls in town so I thought she would be really disappointed and when I told her and she said she knew I was like, ‘Why have you always done that?’ and she was like, ‘I was trying to get you to tell me, which didn’t work’ but it was her way of not wanting to pry but wanted me to tell her, which was not maybe the best way to do it, but she has been super supportive.

Did she expect that big kiss at the 2018 Games?

I don’t know if she expected, I don’t think I expected it. You know, it truly wasn’t a big kiss, if you had been there [laughs] and seen it.

It was very much, ‘Ok I’m going back for my run’. Kiss, leave, didn’t know it was being filmed, didn’t know it was being broadcast and after the event then it was sort of the only thing reporters wanted to talk about.

So it was a moment that I didn’t even think about and didn’t put any additional thought into it.

If I knew it was going to be filmed, I would have given a better kiss. But I think she was also excited about that.

She loved my ex-boyfriend Matt and she’s very supportive of my sexuality and very supportive of me being able to compete out.

 
 
 
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You're aiming to compete in the 2022 Beijing Olympics, will this be your time to nab the gold medal?

I mean, I think that’s every athlete’s goal and ambition.

Obviously I’m going to be gunning for that but it’s a deep talent pool.

But I think competing for Team GB gives me a better chance of going for gold than I would have in the US just because the qualification process is a little different and it’s going to allow me to reserve some energy just preserve m body and just focus on tricks I need to do to get that run together versus qualifying in the eleventh hour, trying to get all the disciplines against a bunch of guys.

But I dunno, I think if there’s ever been a chance for it, it’s now. But I don’t want to jinx it and it’s going to be hard as ever but never say never I suppose [laughs].

Gay visibility is poor in China, would you do another LGBTQ moment on TV?

I mean, for sure, I think it’s important to have visual representation and I think doing something like publicly in a country where they are opposed to it speaks very loudly. It’s like a peaceful protest.

But the kiss in Korea was not meant to be any protest or intended to be anything.

I didn’t even know it was going to be filmed. I’m not going to plan anything big but if I have a boyfriend at the games for sure I will kiss him before the run and after the run. It’s just normal for me.

You’re doing all three disciplines as well. That’s a lot of training and time!

It is a long-time training. I have actually always competed in all three disciplines though and so like at x games I have two tours and World Cups I have other markee events throughout our season.

I’ve done half pipes, slopes down, big air, and it’s always been a crisis of time management but I’ve gotten pretty good at figuring out how to sort of manage my time and when to train and when to rest and when I have to push on hard tricks and when I need to scale back.

I haven’t had chance to do that during the Olympics so this is exciting that hopefully now I get to compete in all three on the world stage but it’s not really any different than what I’ve done before.

 
 
 
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You’ve said this is going to be your last Olympics. What is next for you when you retire?

I mean I really hope to act, it’s always been my dream post skiing. I had a chance recently to start doing that and it was really a dream come true and was so much fun, I made so many friends and enjoyed the process.

I would love to continue doing that. It’s something you can do for the rest of your life and I can get better and better and hopefully be just a really terrific actor one day.

That’s the goal but focusing on skiing now and I want to continue trying to act here and there if I can and post 2022 focus my sights just on acting.