Skiing champion Hig Roberts has come out as gay, revealing that hiding his identity hindered his performance at the top tiers of Alpine skiing.
In coming out, Roberts has become the first high-calibre male Alpine skier in the United States to come out as gay.
But it was a long journey to self-acceptance for Roberts. He first began to realise that he might be gay when he was just 12-years-old, but he buried those feelings deep because he couldn’t reconcile the idea of being gay with being a professional skier.
The 29-year-old recently retired from professional Alpine skiing and moved to Norway to pursue a career in finance, but he wanted to come out publicly to help young athletes questioning whether there is a place for them at the highest echelons of skiing.
“Not being able to be who I am and not be able to be openly gay as a professional athlete was truly hindering my performance,” Roberts told The New York Times.
“I just woke up one morning and I said, ‘Enough is enough,'” he added.
“I love this sport more than anything – I’m so lucky and privileged to be doing this – but I can’t go on another day not trying to achieve the person that I’m meant to be. Which I think for each and every one of us, one of those main goals needs to be happiness and authenticity.”
Skiing champion Hig Roberts is ‘ready to be happy’ after coming out as gay.
The skiing champion, who has won two national titles throughout his career, said he struggled to come out in the hyper-masculine environment of elite sport.
Hig Roberts said womanising was almost encouraged on the World cup ski circuit, which he competed in between 2015 and 2019 – and the culture made it even harder for him to come out.
Instead, he spent much of his time on the ski circuit alone in hotel rooms.
“There’s this idea that being a professional skier in Europe, you’re garnering the attention of women and you’re almost a little bit larger than life,” he said.
In 2017, Roberts won his first national title – but it was not the happy moment it should have been. His brother Murphy had died the year before after having a diabetic seizure while on a hike, and the weight of hiding his sexuality was beginning to erode Roberts’ mental health.
He began to wonder if he belonged in professional skiing as a gay man. In 2019, he announced that he was bringing his professional career to a close.
Roberts added: “I am gay. It’s part of me and I’m proud of it, and I’m ready to be happy.”