BEIJING (AFP) – American duo skater Timothy Leduc became the country’s first non-dual Winter Olympic athlete when he took to the ice on Friday night.
“It was a happy moment for us today,” Leduc said.
The 31-year-old LeDuc and his doubles partner Ashley Gain-Gribble finished seventh in their Olympic debut. LeDuc wore a white shirt with sparkles, and Cain-Gribble wore an icy blue dress while performing Ilan Eshkeri’s music on a short program full of smiles.
When the music was over, Cain-Gribble jumped with a bit of excitement.
“I think Ashley and I have had to overcome a lot of different things, many times, where it was the people who said no or no to us,” Leduc said.
LeDuc joins other non-binary Olympians from last year’s Summer Olympics in Tokyo, including Canadian women’s soccer player Quinn, who became the first transgender, non-binary Olympian to win an Olympic medal when they won the gold. Weightlifter Laurel Hubbard, skater Alana Smith and cyclist Chelsea Wolf – all transgender – also competed in those summer games, among the 186 public LGBTQ participants, as tracked by Outsports.
“We hope that people watching this will feel there is a space for them to participate in figure skating and be able to celebrate what makes them different,” Leduc said.
LeDuc — of Cedar Rapids, Iowa — came out as gay at the age of 18 and became a non-binary public last year. The term is used to describe a person who is not identified only as male or female. The Human Rights Campaign says it could also include Agenda, Biggest Gender, Gender Specialist, and Gender Fluidity.
LeDuc’s Olympic appearance was a tough battle – having just missed the Pyeongchang squad – especially as their team was on the verge of being derailed by injury two nights ago.
Ken-Gribble suffered a sprained ankle that affected her right foot. She said she was able to recover from manual therapy with the team doctor.
“It was crazy that we went this far—you know, we’ve been here for over two weeks now… It should have happened a little while ago,” said Ken Grebel. “These things happen, but you just have to learn to move on.”
This setback was demonstrated in their performance when they deflected two feet on their triple lutz throw. But they also made it to their Triple Ring and got Level 4 scores on every other item.
“Seeing people communicating with both of us means a lot,” Leduc said. “It also reminds us that we are one of many, laying the groundwork for more people to come. I know that being overtly non-binary is only possible because the great, wonderful people before me have laid the foundation for me.”