LGBTQ Women To Watch Out For In The 2018 Games
Gus Kenworthy and Adam Rippon made history in 2018 by being the first openly out, gay male athletes representing the United States in the Winter Olympics. It's been a momentous year for LGBTQ representation, with a reported record number of 15 out LGBTQ athletes, according to Outsports.
That's an accomplishment, after the 2014 Sochi Winter Games saw the arrests of 4 LGBTQ rights activists. "To put it mildly, the Russian government is not friendly to gay and transgender people," wrote NPR's Barbara King during the games. Openly gay, two-time Olympic snowboarder Belle Brockhoff, of Australia, said her parents were worried for her safety during her time in Sochi.
"The practice of sport is a human right. Every individual must have the possibility of practicing sport, without discrimination of any kind and in the Olympic spirit, which requires mutual understanding with a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play," reads the Olympic Charter.
In that spirit, NPR has compiled a non-exhaustive list of out LGBTQ women athletes competing at this year's games — "out" meaning that these athletes have publicly confirmed their LGBTQ identities.
Ireen Wüst, Netherlands
Wüst became the youngest Dutch Olympic champion in the 2006 Winter Games, where she won the gold medal in 3000 meter speed skating event. In Pyeongchang, she took home a gold medal in the 1500 meters and a silver medal in the 3000 meters. The most decorated Dutch Olympic athlete ever has eight medals, and is openly bisexual.
Daniela Iraschko-Stolz, Austria
Iraschko-Stolz competed in the first women's ski jumping event at the 2014 Winter Games, earning a silver medal. She was one of 15 athletes who sued the organizers of Vancouver's 2010 Winter Games, which featured only men's ski jumping events, for gender discrimination. "It's like a fairytale to win silver at the first" women's event, she told The Telegraph. Iraschko-Stolz married her wife in 2013.
Cheryl Maas, Netherlands
"When liberties are violated there, the IOC must be able to say: we will not go there," the two-time Olympian slopestyle snowboarder said before the Sochi games. "I think the IOC should be more critical when choosing a country." In Russia, the openly lesbian Maas held up a rainbow glove to a camera after finishing a run. She is married to X Games gold medalist Stine Brun Kjeldaas, with whom she has two daughters.
Belle Brockhoff, Australia
Brockhoff, a two-time Olympic snowboarder, came out as a lesbian ahead of the 2014 Sochi games. "I want to go there because I'm not afraid of these laws [targeting LGBTQ people] and I want others that live in Russia, who are homosexuals, to see that," she told the BBC. Brockhoff finished 11th in the 2018 women's snowboard cross, just two months after a surgery treating an ACL tear.
Emilia Andersson Ramboldt, Sweden
Ramboldt, a three-time Olympian ice hockey defenceman, was named Sweden's Female Hockey Player of the Year for the 2014 - 2015 season. She married her wife in 2015, with whom she has a young son. "Why should we worry about what others think of us, do we have more confidence in their opinions than we do our own?" she wrote this week.
Simona Meiler, Switzerland
Three-time Olympian Meiler placed 22nd in snowboard cross in Peyongchang, after coming back from a spinal fracture just two years ago. Athletes "have to be ready to give everything and perform wholeheartedly, and in my eyes that's only possible if they can accept and express their sexuality," she said in 2014.
Šárka Pančochová, Czech Republic
Pyeongchang is the third Winter Olympics for Pančochová, and her first as an openly gay athlete. She competed in the women's slopestyle and "big air" skiing events, and placed 16th in slopestyle. Pančochová told Outsports that she was "stoked" to come out publicly.
Kim Meylemans, Belgium
The 21-year-old told a Belgian outlet that she has been harassed and threatened because of her sexuality for years. The first-time Olympian is the first athlete to represent Belgium in skeleton at an Olympic Winter Games. Meylemans placed 14th, and says her ambition is to medal.
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