Figure skater Timothy LeDuc becomes first openly non-binary athlete to compete at the Winter Olympics

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Figure skater Timothy LeDuc will officially become the first openly non-binary athlete to compete at the Winter Olympics.

LeDuc, the pathbreaking pair skater who with their partner, Ashley Cain-Gibbble, have dominated pairs competitions for years with a pioneering style that shatters stuffy skating traditions, will be one of two pairs representing Team USA next month.

The 31-year-old recently minted national champion will join Cain-Gribble and fellow staking pair Alexa Knierim and Brandon Frazier in Beijing.

US Figure Skating, the sport’s national governing body, announced that LeDuc and Cain-Gibble were tapped to be on the country’s Olympic team Sunday (9 January).

The news came after a nail-biting national championship, with tensions high with not only Olympic berths all to play for but the rampaging Omicron variant sweeping the globe only weeks before the Beijing Games.

After all, Frazier was among six skaters to test positive and forced to withdraw from the 2022 Figure Skating Championships.

But for now, a moment of relief for LeDuc. In an adorable video posted to social media, the now two-time national champion can be seen being told over the phone by officials that they have earned a spot on the Olympic team.

Leaping off a stool surrounded by family, sporting officials told LeDuc that their place on the team was “well deserved”.

Timothy LeDuc says LGBT+ athletes have ‘always been here’

LeDuc, who first learned how to skate when they were just 12 years old, was chosen following the nationals by a selection committee that convened Saturday night.

The committee took into account LeDuc’s glistening history-making track record, which includes becoming the first out gay athlete to win a US pairs title in 2019.

“My hope is that when people see my story, it isn’t focused on me and saying, ‘Oh, Timothy is the first out non-binary person to achieve this level of success in sport’,” LeDuc said at a press conference Saturday.

Ashley Cain-Gribble and Timothy Leduc compete in the Pairs Free Skating during day two of the the ISU World Figure Skating Championships. (Joosep Martinson – International Skating Union/International Skating Union via Getty Images)
Ashley Cain-Gribble and Timothy Leduc compete in the Pairs Free Skating during day two of the the ISU World Figure Skating Championships. (Joosep Martinson – International Skating Union/International Skating Union via Getty Images)

“My hope is that the narrative shifts more to: ‘Queer people can be open and successful in sports.’

“We’ve always been here, we’ve always been a part of sports. We just haven’t always been able to be open.”

LeDuc’s incoming flight to Beijing comes after at least 186 out LGBT+ athletes took part in the Tokyo Summer Olympics last year – a record-breaking number.

While the figure is still only a small fraction of the 11,000 athletes in the competiton, it was more than double that of the queer athletes competing in the 2016 Rio de Janeiro games.

“I know that me being here – and being able to be out now – is only possible because of the many great people who came before me,” LeDuc added.

“I stand on the shoulders of so many amazing queer people that have pushed their way through this sport, allowing me to be open now.”

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