Gus Kenworthy is widely known in the ski world as being one of the most dynamic and explosive freestyle skiers in the game. Having won the silver medal in Sochi in 2014 waving the U.S. flag, and also representing the U.S. in the 2018 Games in PyeongChang, it’s no surprise that he would have his sights set on the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.
However, Kenworthy has decided to wave a new flag in the Beijing Games, as he was approved Tuesday by the International Ski Federation (FIS) to represent his birth nation of Great Britain in 2022, according to a statement by GB Snowsport (the national governing body for snowsports in the U.K.).
Kenworthy was born in Chelmsford, Essex, and his mother was also born in the U.K. He explicitly expresses that this decision was largely made to honor his mother.
“This is a great opportunity for me to start again and compete in three events in 2022. I have strong roots in the U.K. and have been close with many of the athletes,” Kenworthy said in a statement on GB Snowsport. “I am also doing this for my mother who was born and lived in the U.K. for much of her life, she has always been my greatest supporter throughout my career. She taught me to ski when I was three years old and is the reason I compete today. It’s great to now be representing GB – a country which means so much to me and my family.”
And according to NBC Sports, this will be the last appearance the freestyle skier will make on the Olympic stage.
“I feel like these are going to be my last Olympic Games for sure,” he told NBC Sports. He goes on to explain that this decision was also made while considering the tedious qualification process, and that he felt this would be an easier route to qualification for Beijing.
“This gives me an advantage in terms of qualifying and having less to worry about, less people I’m up against, just being able to focus on the tricks that I want to be working on, the runs that I want to do, put me in the best position to hopefully get another medal and not have to kill my body trying to qualify in multiple disciplines right before the Games against the U.S. guys,” he told NBC Sports.
Kenworthy will be looking to compete in all three disciplines in 2022: Slopestyle, Halfpipe, as well as Big Air (which is a new addition to the field for 2022). The United States has won 25 medals since freestyle skiing was added to Olympic competition in 1992, while Great Britain has only won one, according to the Washington Post. This is a chance for Kenworthy to represent a nation that is dear to his heart, and perhaps do what he does best to add to their medal count.
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