Another queer Team USA athlete has just qualified for the Winter Olympics – skeleton slider Andrew Blaser.
Blaser beat out skeleton veterans Austin Florian and John Daly to become the only man on the Team USA skeleton team for the 2022 games in Beijing.
It’s the first time that the US is sending only one male skeleton athlete to the Olympics – so no pressure at all.
The truly terrifying winter sport involves sledders plummeting head-first down a steep and perilous icy track on a tiny sled. According to the Olympics website, it is considered to be the “world’s first sliding sport”.
He joins other queer Team USA Olympians including figure skaters Jason Brown, Amber Glenn and Timothy LeDuc – who’ll be the first openly non-binary athlete to compete in the Winter Olympics.
Other LGBT+ athletes heading for the Winter Olympics, according to OutSports, also include British curler Bruce Mouat, Australian snowboarder Belle Brockhoff, French figure skater Kevin Aymoz and Dutch speedskater Ireen Wüst – the most decorated Olympic speedskater ever.
The LGBT+ sports website says that the Beijing Games will include more out athletes than any before it.
Also heading for Beijing are ice dancers Guillaume Cizeron (France) and Paul Poirier (Canada), and Canadian figure skater Eric Radford.
Only 15 openly LGBT+ athletes competed at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
Skeleton returned to the Winter Olympics in 2022, having last appeared on the program 54 years prior in 1948. Blaser is the first out gay man to represent Team USA in the sport.
He previously told OutSports that there have been several times where he considered walking away from the sport.
But looking back at all his accomplishments in skeleton, he realised he could succeed.
“I have had so many moments where I have ‘quit’ mentally and thought I was done and walking away,” Blaser said. “Looking back at every conversation with every coach where I was defeated or thought it couldn’t be done, now I know that it can be done.”
Blaser started as a track and field athlete, even competing at the University of Idaho as a pole vaulter and hurdler.
After college, Blaser wanted to pursue a career as a bobsledder but tried skeleton after coaches said he’d be better suited to the super face ice sport. But Blaser initially hated the sport and quit before eventually returning to go pro.
When he’s not training, Andrew Blaser enjoys travelling, camping and singing. His favourite movies include Love Actually and Mean Girls, according to his Team USA profile.