‘We’ve always been here’: Pairs skater Timothy LeDuc becomes first openly nonbinary athlete to compete at Winter Olympics

LeDuc was first openly gay athlete to win gold medal in US pairs event

Ashley Cain-Gribble and Timothy LeDuc placed third at the 2021 U.S. Championships. (Usa Today Sports, Orlando Ramirez)

DETROIT – Team USA on Sunday announced its roster of pairs skaters who will compete at the 2022 Winter Olympics -- and that roster includes Timothy LeDuc, the first openly nonbinary athlete to compete at a Winter Olympics.

American pairs skaters Timothy LeDuc and Ashley Cain-Gribble, and Alexa Knierim and Brandon Fraizer have been chosen to represent the U.S. at the upcoming Winter Games. The two teams are the most recent U.S. champions and were the top U.S. pairs teams at the last two world championship competitions.

The four skaters reportedly hold seven of the last eight U.S. championship titles between them. With an average age of 29.6 years, the group is considered the oldest U.S. Olympic pairs figure skating team in 90 years.

More: U.S. Figure Skating names pairs and ice dance teams for 2022 Winter Olympics

LeDuc, 31, became the first openly gay athlete to win a gold medal in a U.S. pairs’ event in 2019. When the Winter Games kick off in February, the skater will become the first openly nonbinary athlete to compete in any event at a Winter Olympics.

The U.S. champion says that they hope the focus won’t be on their specific identity, but instead on the fact that all types of people are athletes and are active in sports.

“My hope is that when people see my story, it isn’t focused on me and saying, ‘Oh, Timothy is the first out nonbinary person to achieve this level of success in sport,’” LeDuc said to NBC Sports. “My hope is that the narrative shifts more to queer people can be open and successful in sports. We’ve always been here; we’ve always been a part of sports. We just haven’t always been able to be open.”

Defending champions Knierim and Frazier withdrew from the U.S. Figure Skating Championships last week after Frazier tested positive for COVID. Despite withdrawing from the competition, the pair was still considered an option to be selected to compete at the 2022 Winter Olympics.

Read: Top US pairs skaters withdraw from nations due to COVID-19

Skaters Jessica Calalang and Brian Johnson have been named first alternates for the Games, with Audrey Lu and Misha Mitrofanov named second alternates.

Related: 2022 Winter Olympic ice dance teams have ties to Metro Detroit

About the Authors:

Brandon Carr is a digital content producer for ClickOnDetroit and has been with WDIV Local 4 since November 2021. Brandon is the 2015 Solomon Kinloch Humanitarian award recipient for Community Service.

Cassidy Johncox is a senior digital news editor covering stories across the spectrum, with a special focus on politics and community issues.