First non-binary Winter Olympian misses out on medal but inspires fans with ‘elegant’ performance

Ashley Cain-Gribble and Timothy LeDuc of Team United States skate during the Pair Skating Free Skating on day fifteen of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games

US skater Timothy LeDuc, the first non-binary athlete to compete in a Winter Olympics event, has unfortunately missed out on a medal, but inspired fans with an “elegant” performance.

LeDuc and partner Ashley Cain-Gribble placed eighth in the pairs figure skating event, having performed on 18 February and 19 February, while China’s Sui Wenjing and Han Cong took the gold.

Though the pair gained an impressive 198.05 points, their chances of medalling were dashed when Cain-Gribble stumbled twice during their performance.

Fans, however, praised their routine, with one Twitter user stating LeDuc’s Olympic effort would help children to “see themselves” on the world stage.

“Absolutely wept my way through Timothy LeDuc and Ashley Caine-Gribble’s skate,” she said. “Imagine all the kids who will have seen that and seen themselves.”

Another said: “Timothy LeDuc is honestly such a stunningly elegant skater that I just can’t take my eyes off (them)”.

In the lead up to the Olympics, 31-year-old LeDuc told the Washington Post that they knew from a young age that they “didn’t fit very neatly into what was expected of me in terms of masculinity and manhood”.

“But I also learned very quickly how I had to conform to those things for safety, to be taken seriously to find my success,” LeDuc added.

They said it wasn’t until later in life, after they first came out as gay and met other people in the LGBT+ community, that they discovered the term non-binary.

Timothy LeDuc said they were using their appearance at the Winter Olympics as a way to spread more awareness and start conversations about gender identity and expression.

“We’ve all been socialised in the same way to believe there is a man and a woman and everybody is going to fit neatly into those categories, so I am also learning with everyone else,” they said.

(Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

The 2022 games are the queerest Olympics yet with at least 35 publicly out LGBT+ athletes vying for the gold. It’s double the number of openly LGBT athletes who competed at the 2018 Winter Olympics.

“Team LGBT+” won its first gold medal of the year when bisexual speed skater Ireen Wüst claimed her sixth Winter Olympics gold medal for the Netherlands in the women’s 1,500-meter final.

Its second gold medal win came when France scored a win for its “breathtaking” figure skating routine on Monday.

France’s Guillaume Cizeron, who is openly gay, and his partner Gabriella Papadakis not only won the gold medal but smashed a world record with a score of 226.98.

The Canadian women’s hockey team also won gold on Thursday as the gayest team in Olympics history, with seven out athletes.