Who is Gus Kenworthy?
Name: Gus Kenworthy
Country: United States
Disciplines: Slopestyle, Halfpipe
2016/17 AFP slopestyle ranking: 10th
2016/17 AFP halfpipe ranking: 9th
2016/17 AFP overall ranking: 1st
- 2014 Olympic slopestyle silver medalist
- 2-time X Games slopestyle medalist (1 silver, 1 bronze)
- 2-time X Games halfpipe medalist (1 silver, 1 bronze)
- 7-time AFP overall champion (2011-2017)
Kenworthy was part of a historic medal sweep in men's freeski slopestyle at the last Olympics. He earned the silver medal and was joined on the podium by U.S. teammates Joss Christensen (gold) and Nick Goepper (bronze). Kenworthy had tried to qualify for the U.S. halfpipe team as well that year but narrowly missed the cut. He's also widely remembered for something else in Sochi — finding a pack of stray dogs that he helped bring back to the U.S.
Once again, Kenworthy is attempting to make the U.S. Olympic freeski team in both slopestyle and halfpipe — no small task considering the depth of the Americans in both disciplines. Though he likely wouldn't be considered the outright favorite in either event, he'd certainly be capable of getting a medal in either one at the PyeongChang Games.
Potential Olympic records
Kenworthy has stated that his goal is to attain a medal in halfpipe this time around. If that happens, it could potentially make him the first athlete to win medals in both slopestyle and halfpipe, the two freeskiing disciplines currently on the Olympic program. (His teammate Devin Logan is attempting the same feat and would get the first crack at it in PyeongChang though.)
When it comes to freeskiing, Kenworthy is a jack of all trades. He's able to compete at a high level in all three of the primary disciplines: halfpipe, slopestyle and big air (a non-Olympic event). Being able to perform well in so many different events requires a completely varied array of skills, which is why most skiers specialize in their preferred discipline, but Kenworthy has found a way to make it work. He's got a technical rail game on the slopestyle course, and he can boost massive amplitude out of the halfpipe.
Kenworthy was born in London, but his family moved to the U.S. when he was 2. He grew up in Telluride, Colorado and was on skis at age 3. In 1998, he watched Johnny Moseley win gold in moguls during the Nagano Olympics, a memory that still sticks with him. Kenworthy competed in moguls until his teenage years, when he began freeskiing instead. In 2010, he earned a silver medal in slopestyle at the junior world championships.
In October 2015, Kenworthy came out as gay in an interview with ESPN the Magazine. Up to that point, no male athlete in the action sports world had ever done so. With that secret off his chest, and his revelation met with an outpouring of support from the freeskiing community and beyond, Kenworthy has said that he's been able to focus more on his skiing without being distracted, particularly in high-pressure contest situations. In fact, he won the very first slopestyle competition he entered after coming out.
2016/17 season recap
For the seventh straight year, Kenworthy was the AFP's No. 1 skier in the overall rankings, which factor in each athletes' performance across halfpipe, slopestyle and big air. It was actually something of a down year for Kenworthy though, as he finished off the podium at a lot of the major contests. (The season before, he won a total of four X Games medals and successfully defended his Dew Tour slopestyle title.) He did have a few notable highlights in 2017 though, including a silver medal in slopestyle at the world championships in Sierra Nevada. He also placed second at the first U.S. Olympic selection event for ski halfpipe, which gives him an early edge over many of his teammates in the upcoming battle to make the Olympic team.
Off the snow
Kenworthy has taken up a position as a role model for the LGBTQ community. In 2017, he competed on MTV's "The Challenge: Champs vs. Pros" series to raise money for a pair of charities that focus on LGBTQ issues. You might end up seeing Kenworthy on your television screen outside of Olympic season more often — he's interested in pursuing an acting career at some point. Though, truth be told, some might argue that landing a cameo in "Sharknado 5: Global Swarming" means he's made it already.
"Getting a medal in both disciplines in PyeongChang would be obviously a huge dream come true. [But] I think, to be completely honest, my focus is actually more on halfpipe because I got the medal in slopestyle [already]." — Gus Kenworthy on his goals for PyeongChang 2018