Rippon had delivered a powerful, artistic performance as the United States claimed bronze in the figure skating team event. Radford, a pairs skater, played a crucial role in Canada claiming gold. Embracing for the cameras afterwards, they were united not just by their sport but by history.
They fit that piece of masculinity we have come to expect in sports being big and strong. Rippon became the first openly gay U. There were seven in Sochi four years ago.
Only seven out athletes participated in the Sochi Games, and they were all female non-Americans. Several world-class male figure skaters did eventually come out later to the public, but only after they won major competitions like the Olympics. Reasons why these athletes stayed in the closet?
Deep in the iron belt of northern Minnesota, where boys are raised to be manly men and hockey is holy, Brandon Larcom grew up figure skating. From the moment he first stepped onto the ice at the age of 3, he had dreamed of becoming the next Wayne Gretzky, but a skull deficiency kept him out of contact sports. It sounds like a movie," says Larcom, now 30, talking on the phone from the Toyota Sports Center rink in Los Angeles, where he coaches figure skating and hockey.
Men's figure skating has always been caught between its public image and its conservative culture. But with anti-LGBT policies haunting the Sochi Olympics, the sport's biggest stars are under more pressure than ever to set the record straight. When I ask figure skater Jeremy Abbott how athletes should respond to Russia's anti-gay laws, his eyes widen.
Registered in Ireland: Deep in the iron belt of the northern US state of Minnesota, where boys are raised to be manly men and hockey is holy, Brandon Larcom grew up figure skating. From the moment he first stepped onto the ice at the age of 3, he had dreamed of becoming the next Wayne Gretzky, but a skull deficiency kept him out of contact sports.
The average American sports fan, watching the Olympic men's figure skating competition, probably figured that most of the contestants were gay. Former gold medalist Brian Boitano, addressing this phenomenon, explains it with three words: "Sequins and glitter. None of the skaters in this year's Olympics -- for all the sequins, all the glitter, all the stereotypically gay mannerisms and speech patterns -- is publicly gay.
The frigid, mid-century arena is eerily quiet but for the mechanized drone of a lumbering zamboni and the twack twack twack of a year-old girl metronomically jumping rope in the corner. Like most competitive adult figure skaters, Conte is on the ice most days of the week. This is a sport that requires all the boxes to be checked and technical perfection.
The free skate, or long program, as any skater will call it, is 4 minutes and 30 seconds of grueling torture. I once had a Russian coach who told me that the long program required the same exertion as running 2 miles in four minutes. In a quadruple jump, a skater takes off backwards, rotates four full revolutions in the air, and lands again on one foot on a backward outside edge of a skate.
A few of them have already medaled in their respective sports. InGalindo pulled off one of the greatest upsets in figure skating. He had not only had given up on skating, but the skating world had given up on him when he decided to compete at the US National Championships. He decided to compete because the event took place in his hometown of San Jose, California.