Olympian Gus Kenworthy Talks Representation In Sports And Hanging Out In Korean Raccoon Cafés
Gus Kenworthy‘s final Olympic expertise in 2014 was highlighted by profitable a silver medal in Males’s Slopestyle and adopting a stray dog off the streets of Sochi. This time round, the spotlight was publicly battling vice chairman Mike Pence and advocating for illustration as a homosexual Olympian.
Kenworthy made the ultimate of the identical occasion in Pyeongchang and completed in 12th this 12 months, however he had a way more public presence at this Olympic Video games and has been busy within the weeks since. Kenworthy sat down with Uproxx to speak about significance of illustration in sports activities and the way he feels athletes have an obligation to others to return out and share their tales with the world.
He additionally talked about touring and, after all, the significance of renting lockers in raccoon cafés so the furry animals don’t steal issues out of your pockets.
UPROXX: Let’s simply discuss concerning the final month or so. You’ve actually been very busy. Have you ever had a bit of little bit of time to catch up and regain normalcy right here?
Gus Kenworthy: Truthfully probably not fairly but. I simply received again from Korea. I flew dwelling to Denver for lower than 12 hours and dropped my luggage. Then flew to New York, and I’m right here till Saturday. However I’m doing a bunch of press and working round doing interviews and a few sponsor appearances and stuff like that. Then I’m going to L.A. on Saturday and it continues. I believe it’ll be a bit of bit hectic most likely for the subsequent few weeks after which it’ll begin to die down. I’m trying ahead to that for positive.
Journey’s onerous on anybody, particularly after they’re touring very lengthy distances. However as knowledgeable athlete, how do you keep regular and keep targeted and attempt to handle your self if you’re going all over the world?
I imply, there’s tons of little journey hacks that I take advantage of. Some straightforward issues are so simple as I’m touring in compression pants as a result of it simply retains the lactic acid from increase in your legs and permits good circulation. It stops your physique from swelling up on flights. So I’ll put on compression pants beneath sweatpants or no matter I’m sporting on the flight. That sort of helps.
I’ll carry a candle with me to make lodge rooms or residences, wherever I’m staying, really feel a bit of bit extra like dwelling and odor good and be rather less sterile. Additionally I simply attempt to get pleasure from it. I’m at all times on the street and it’s touring and competing. It’s enjoyable however generally it undoubtedly looks like work. However then if I ever get a chance to do one thing, expertise one thing, that’s what I like to do. So I try to get off to the cities and use my Marriott Moments to try to discover one thing to do. One thing cool and distinctive to wherever I’m. That simply makes all of the journey worthwhile as a result of it looks like mini holidays in between work.
Did you get an opportunity to discover Korea a bit of bit and see the sights and sounds, or was there simply a lot happening that you just had been on the Athlete Village and occasions after which going again to the room?
I used to be simply within the athlete village and there wasn’t a ton to do there however I believe I nonetheless received to expertise a good quantity. My household was staying in Seoul and I used to be actually excited to have them there as a result of I didn’t have anyone in Sochi. I used to be stoked that they had been there. They stayed in Seoul and took the prepare after they got here to see my occasion.
In any other case they had been down there and I went down and stayed with them for a pair nights and received to see Seoul a bit of bit. Went to karaoke, we went to a raccoon café which is basically loopy. There was only a lot that I received to see and do. I might have beloved to have explored extra, but it surely was undoubtedly a reasonably hectic time.
I’m not accustomed to raccoon cafés. Are they precisely what they sound like?
It’s a café with raccoons in it. You don’t eat them clearly. They’re pets. You go in and I really assume it’s an expertise that’s on Marriott Moments. You go in and you may get a locker. You must get a locker. You examine in something that’s in your pockets as a result of the raccoons will steal something out of your pockets. You may solely go in with a cellphone that needs to be in your hand and also you’re in a confined room. It’s fairly large with home windows.
And there’s only a bunch of raccoons inside then?
There’s seven raccoons and randomly there’s 4 canine. There’s a French Bulldog and a Corgi, and a few sort of hound. And then there’s only a bunch of raccoons they usually’re completely domesticated. You may decide them up. They don’t like it, however you’ll be able to decide them up, pet them, feed them. They’ll crawl throughout you. It’s actually cool. I’m obsessive about raccoons. I believe they’re one of many cutest animals. I used to be fairly excited to do it.
It’s a bit of bit totally different than a cat café, which is I assume what’s closest to it stateside, proper?
Really it’s fairly comparable. It’s nearly like a cat café however with raccoons. However you’ll be able to’t have something in your pockets.
You talked about Marriott and the rewards program they’ve, when did you begin working with them? Have been they an Olympic sponsor for you?
I really simply began working with them. However when the chance took place I used to be fairly enthusiastic about it as a result of it’s one thing that parallels very simply as a result of I do love touring. I journey on a regular basis. I need to expertise as a lot as I can once I journey, and would love to inform different individuals about it and advocate issues. And Marriott Moments principally has the most important assortment of experiences of anybody on the web.
There’s tons of of hundreds of experiences in hundreds of cities all over the world. Among the experiences are issues that I’ve already executed and had. A few of them are fully new to me. But it surely’s simply one thing that I stay up for once I go on extra journeys, is testing new experiences and discovering one thing to do as a result of I’m not the very best at planning journeys and itineraries. Then for issues that I’ve executed up to now and need to advocate to individuals, it simply makes it straightforward and seamless for brand new individuals to go onto their web site, marriotmoments.com, and discover an expertise. And you don’t need to have a membership.
It’s one thing they really had been doing earlier than with Marriott Rewards, however the higher factor about Marriott Moments is that anybody can do it. You don’t need to have a loyalty program. You may simply go on, search for an expertise, ebook it. It’s very, very straightforward and handy.
One of many issues I discovered about journey for me that offers me pause is that there’s a number of uncertainty, particularly if you’re touring worldwide. I simply went on a visit to Spain and there’s customs and a language barrier and all these various things. Do you will have any recommendation for those that are touring to assist them chill out?
Truthfully I believe that the extra you journey, the extra snug and comfortable you get. However I believe it’s necessary to do not forget that you’re going to get there. Typically it may be nerve-racking with delays and customs and immigration and various things that come up throughout journey. However I believe you simply need to breathe straightforward and do not forget that all people else goes by the identical factor. It’s simply one of many disadvantages of journey.
However you’re additionally flying in a steel plane to the opposite aspect of the world! It’s nearly unfathomable in some methods. You must generally take the disruption with a grain of salt as a result of it’s not at all times going to be excellent. However you’ll at all times get there, and also you’re going to get there in a single piece, and it’s all good.
So apart from Colorado, the place is your favourite place to ski?
I actually like snowboarding in France. They’ve just a few occasions in France within the French Alps. They’re simply at all times time. There’s actually good snow. It’s very totally different. Not one of the terrain is marked. If there’s a cliff or an impediment or a rock, there received’t be any bamboo poles letting you already know, warning you of it. It’s simply sort of like ‘ski at your individual threat.’ Which is sort of loopy but in addition makes it enjoyable. There’s simply wonderful all terrain snowboarding. It’s all actually simply open and you may decide and select precisely what you need to do. You simply need to watch out.
Then we prepare in our off season right here in New Zealand as a result of it’s the other season and there’s a World Cup down there. I received’t say that the snowboarding is essentially the very best down there. No less than on the resorts that we go to. It’s simply common however they construct a reasonably good terrain park for us to coach on, however the landscapes are actually extremely breathtaking. It’s one among my favourite locations to go. The individuals are tremendous candy and there’s a lot to see and do off the mountains. I really like New Zealand.
I read about the skiing in Pyeongchang they usually stated there have been a number of fences up so that you couldn’t go off target simply and do issues off of the conventional slopes. Is it attention-grabbing to see how totally different the game is dealt with elsewhere all over the world?
Completely. I undoubtedly don’t assume there’s essentially a ton of ski tradition in Korea. They constructed an unimaginable slope fashion course for us. Everybody says the half-pipe was the most effective half-pipes they’ve ever ridden. They received the venues executed and I believe every part labored out very well. They did an attractive job, however I undoubtedly don’t assume it’s the kind of factor the place they’ve an abundance of ski resorts, they’re full of individuals, and there’s a number of business round it. They did an unimaginable job with the Olympics however in any other case snowboarding and snowboarding isn’t essentially an enormous factor there.
One of the vital necessary issues that you just appear to emphasize together with your profession and the time you will have within the highlight is that you just need to signify for homosexual athletes. You’ve had some public battles with vice chairman Mike Pence in latest weeks. Simply how necessary is illustration in a time like this?
I believe illustration is so necessary. I simply really posted a tweet just a few days in the past simply highlighting some actually horrible feedback that I’d gotten on my YouTube web page that had been simply actually homophobic and actually offensive and actually, actually principally horrific. Like, loss of life threats that I had gotten. I simply wished to indicate that it’s nonetheless on the market. And I believe it’s extra necessary than ever to face up and be proud and be seen and loud.
I believe generally when there’s a number of negativity, the pure inclination is to sort of conceal and shrink back from it and tone it down. My philosophy is that that’s the precise reverse of what we needs to be doing. Now greater than ever that we needs to be actually, actually seen and actually on the market, and simply have as a lot illustration as potential as a result of I believe it undoubtedly does change lives and saves lives.
I believe in professional sports activities particularly it may be troublesome for individuals to return out and really feel like they’re welcome. What would you say to any individual who’s possibly on the fence about that or nonetheless fascinated by doing that?
I believe in sports activities is so necessary that individuals do come out as a result of I believe that that’s going to be lighting the way in which for a future era. I believe that it’s a egocentric factor to remain within the closet. Additionally I believe it exhibits that you just’re ashamed. I believe it’s so necessary to not be ashamed of your self and who you’re. I believe it’s necessary to embrace it. I do know that in sports activities it’s scary as a result of generally in workforce sports activities there’s a unique dynamic. In particular person sports activities like mine it’s based mostly round sponsoring, a standard picture. You don’t need to do something that you just assume would possibly tarnish that. However I additionally assume that it’s so necessary to be pleased with your self as a result of I believe that if you’re proud and if you’re genuine it’s a lot simpler for individuals to narrate to you.
For me it ended up being an incredible factor career-wise as a result of I had out of the blue this entire new viewers that was capable of join with me. It was a a lot bigger viewers than I had earlier than. And sponsors had been excited that I used to be talking my reality. They wished to help my story and I believe it really was a extremely useful factor for me not solely from a private standpoint however each totally different side of my life and profession. And I might encourage anybody else to do the identical.
I believe it’s undoubtedly handy to remain within the closet and simply coast by a sports activities profession and probably not flip any heads. And j do regardless of the sport is that you just’re doing and try to do it effectively and when it’s executed you’ll be able to come out however I believe that for me it shouldn’t be about comfort. It needs to be about attempting to assist different individuals. You need to be the individual that the kid model of your self wanted.
Politically it looks like the local weather for LGBTQ individuals and rights has gotten worse, particularly within the final 12 months. However has it gotten higher in different areas? Do you assume sponsors and different individuals in sports activities have develop into extra open to homosexual athletes?
Oh my gosh, completely. I believe it’s undoubtedly attempting occasions and there’s undoubtedly a number of homophobia on the market, however on the similar time there’s a lot extra love and help for the LGBT neighborhood than I’ve ever seen earlier than up to now. Head and Shoulders, for me, was one among my Olympic sponsors they usually had been so enthusiastic about my story they did a commercial that played on national television. It performed throughout the Tremendous Bowl. It performed throughout all of those large monumental moments when it had a ton of viewership. In the business I’m flying a delight flag and it was the primary time it had ever been executed in historical past.
I believe that’s so cool. I believe that that exhibits a change. It’s not solely cool for me to really feel proud and get to share that second with the neighborhood and on TV, however I believe it’s so wonderful that a large model like Procter & Gamble did one thing like that and took a stand, after which did one thing that — it’s dumb to say risque — however it’s sort of risque and ahead considering. I believe it’s wonderful. I hope it’s an indication of the occasions and that issues are altering.