Friday 9 February 2018

The Winter Games Begin

With the opening ceremony of the PyeongChang Olympic Winter Games only hours away this is the best time to present the latest update of my lgbt Olympian list. I have now identified over 300 lgbt Olympians, as well as over 100 additional names who took part in Olympic qualification tournaments and trials. The full list of Olympians will appear after the games have finished to include all the 2018 results.

Today I present the Winter Olympian list. Being shorter than the Summer list means that I can also list the lgbt athletes who competed in the trials. Research is always on-going and by no means does this list contain all the names of athletes who competed.

Perhaps I should give some information on the Olympic trials and qualification events. These can be divided into several groups. I gave a brief explanation of trials and qualifiers in 2016 but I’ll just say a little more about them today.

First are the Olympic qualification tournaments. These are often annual championships in which athletes compete to qualify their nation for the Olympics. Some team sports have a limited number of nations that can compete in the Olympics. Otherwise we could be waiting for years while 200+ nations compete in, for example, the Olympic soccer tournament. Tournaments like the World Cup and continental tournaments have regularly served as qualifiers, the top two or three teams going on to the Olympics. Several specific Olympic qualifying tournaments have also been organised for some sports.

Second, there are the athlete’s qualification trials. On the whole these consist of national championships, such as the US National Figure Skating Championships. Often a previous Olympic qualifying tournament is held to determine the maximum number of athletes one nation can send. The national championships determine which of the top national skaters will be selected for the Olympic team.

National championships in something like figure skating have several categories, usually called Novice, Junior, and Senior. It is usual for athletes from only the Senior category to be selected for national Olympic teams, though it’s not out of the question for a Junior athlete to be considered. Ondrej Nepela was only 12 years old when he was selected for the Czech figure skating team, and only just 13 when he competed at his first Olympics in 1964. And let’s not forget Tom Daley, who was a Junior category diver when selected for Beijing in 2008 even when he had competed in the GB Senior championships.

There’s nothing during a Novice or Junior championship to indicate an athlete didn’t intend to compete in future Senior events and try for Olympic selection, only hindsight. This is why I have included all the known Novice and Junior competitors, even if they never competed again.

Third, where there is no national championship, such as ski jumping, or tennis where you can get two nationalities on the same doubles team Olympic selection is determined by world rankings. Again, a nation may have a few players in the top ranks, but Olympic selection restricts the number of players one nation can send. Hence you can get a tennis player, to carry on with that example, who ranks top in his/her nation but in the 30s in world ranking can be selected for the Olympics while two or three players in the top 20 from a different nation don’t because they already have their quota of Olympic players selected from the top 10.

Occasionally there are exceptional cases where selection onto Olympic teams is not as expected.

For the list I have grouped qualifying events, tournaments, rankings and trials together under the all-inclusive word “trials”.

I hope that wasn’t too confusing. It confuses me sometimes.

Here is the lgbt Winter Olympian list.

[This list is now out of date. For the newest list go here.]

Even though this Winter Olympic list is shorter than the Summer list there are still some significant records, including the youngest ever lgbt Olympian and the top female medal winner. The latter is mentioned below, but the former, the youngest lgbt Olympian, was Ondrej Nepela who, as mentioned above, competed at his first Olympics just after his 13th birthday.

Here are some more records. Athletes are not necessarily out at the time they competed unless otherwise stated). Since completing the list on 1st February another male athlete has come out – Jorik Hendrickx (Belgium, figure skating). Even though he does not appear on the list I include him in the statistics below.

First lgbt Olympian
Male: 1956 Ronnie Robertson (USA, figure skating)
Female: 1992 Edel Høiseth (Norway, speed skating)

First lgbt medal winners
Male: 1956 Ronnie Robertson (USA, figure skating)
Female: 1998 Nancy Drolet (Canada, ice hockey)

First lgbt Olympic champion
Male: 1972 Ondrej Nepela (Czechoslovakia, figure skating)
Female: 2002 Caroline Ouelette (Canada, ice hockey)

First out Olympian
Male (before the opening ceremony): 2018 Adam Rippon (USA, figure skating); Eric Radford (Canada, pairs figure skating); Gus Kenworthy (USA, freestyle skiing); Jorik Hendrickx (Belgium, figure skating).
Male (before the closing ceremony): 1976 John Curry (GB, figure skating); John was outed during the Olympic Games.
Female: 1992 Edel Høiseth (Norway, speed skating).

Winter Games with the most lgbt Olympians
2006 Turin and 2010 Vancouver, both with 21 lgbt athletes.

Most medals won by one lgbt Winter Olympian
Male: Brian Orser (Canada, figure skating) 2 silver.
Female: Ireen Wüst (Netherlands, speed skating) 4 gold, 3 silver, I bronze; Ireen is top of the all-time Summer and Winter female medal table.

Sport with the most lgbt athletes
Male: figure skating (30)
Female: ice hockey (12)

Lgbt athletes competing at the most Winter games
Jayna Hefford (Canada, ice hockey) and Edel Hoiseth (Norway, speed skating), both at 5 games each.

Top nations
24 – USA.
23 – Canada.

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