Olympic skier Gus Kenworthy switches from U.S. to Great Britain for 2022 Winter Games
The silver medalist has a British passport and is able to switch the country he represents
Gus Kenworthy won a silver medal in slopestyle, representing the United States at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi and has his sights set on the 2022 Beijing games, but will be competing under a different flag. The 28-year-old has decided to represent the United Kingdom rather than the U.S., as he has done in the past.
Kenworthy was born in Chelmsford in Essex, has a British passport, and has a mother from the U.K. as well, so in this case, switching nationalities is allowed.
The U.S. Ski Federation did not attempt to block the application for him to be eligible for Great Britain, and on Tuesday he officially joined GB Snowsport.
He is dedicating what he is calling his final winter games to his mother, and in doing so wants to represent her home country.
He said (via Sky Sports):
"This is definitely going to be my last - my swansong if you will - and I just want to do it for my mom... She is British, I was born over here and I'm just going to pay tribute to her and my heritage and do it for Great Britain."
Kenworthy acknowledges that switching which country you represent is not typical, though it. "It's not very common for a medalist to switch countries but lots of people do choose to ski for a country that one of their parents was from."
As well as doing this for his mother, he also wants to help grow the sport in the country he first called home. "I would just like to be part of the growth of GB. I want to come in and bring more eyeballs and more attention to GB Snowsport and have a path of lesser resistance than I have had in the US," he said.
Kenworthy also wants to be a trailblazer for the LGBTQ community and says he hopes having more representation helps others in the community feel welcome in the skiing world.
With winter sports being more popular in the U.S., there is a more lengthy and grueling process to quality for the games. England is not a winter sports powerhouse so the procedure will be different.
"I compete in multiple disciplines and for the US, our qualifying process is right up until the Games. It is rigorous and my body was basically destroyed right up until the last Olympic Games," he said.
He plans to use this to his advantage. "For GB, I will be able to have my rest ahead of time, focus on tricks, and focus on how well prepared I can be for the Games," Kenworthy added.
Kenworthy moved to Colorado from the UK when he was two-years-old.
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