Out Lesbian Athletes to Watch at the 2018 Olympics

While Adam Rippon and Gus Kenworthy are in the spotlight as the first openly gay men to compete for the U.S. Olympic team, there are a numerous lesbian and bi women athletes to watch as well during the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics.

According to Outsports, the 2018 Winter Olympics has the largest number of out gay, lesbian, and bi athletes of any winter Olympic games, with 15 openly gay and bisexual Olympians. Of the 15, 11 are women:

Brittany Bowe, speed skater for the U.S.


Belle Brockhoff, lesbian snowboarder for Australia

Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)


Daniela Iraschko-Stolz, lesbian ski jumper for Austria

Photo by Stanko Gruden/Agence Zoom/Getty Images


Barbara Jezeršek, lesbian cross country skier for Australia

photo via Alchetron


Cheryl Maas, lesbian snowboarder for the Netherlands

Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images


Simona Meiler, lesbian snowboarder for Switzerland



Kim Meylemans, lesbian skeleton racer for Belgium

Photo by Jorge Luis Alvarez Pupo/Getty Images


Emilia Andersson Ramboldt, lesbian ice hockey player for Sweden

photo via wikipedia


Sarka Pančochová, lesbian snowboarder for the Czech Republic

Photo by Matej Divizna/Getty Images


Sophie Vercruyssen, bobsledder for Belgium

photo via Twitter


Ireen Wüst, bisexual speed skater for the Netherlands

(So far, Wüst has won both gold and silver speed skating medals at the 2018 Olympics)


Historically, many more women have competed as out lesbian and bisexual athletes than men. At the past two Winter Olympics, all of the out LGB athletes have been women, and 11 of the 12 out athletes in the 2008 Summer Olympics were women.

French tennis player Amélie Mauresmo was one of the first lesbians to be out before competing in the Olympics. She came out in 1999 at the age of 19 after being criticized for her masculinity during the Australian Open. She went on to win a silver medal at the 2004 Olympic games in Athens, and said that being open about her sexuality made her a better athlete.

The winter Olympics have also historically had fewer out contestants than the summer Olympics. There were 64 out  Olympians in the 2016 Rio Olympics (50 of whom were women) and 23 in the 2012 London Olympics. However, there were only six in the Vancouver Olympics and seven in the Sochi Olympics, all of whom were women.

The Sochi Olympics received harsh criticism from the gay community because of Russia’s 2013 ban on gay activism. Cheryl Mass, who is back at Pyeongchang, made headlines when she held up her rainbow-colored gloves after failing to make the finals in Sochi. Brockhoff was also critical of the Sochi Olympics, publicly coming out before the games to take a stand against the country’s homophobia.

The world of sports has been called the ‘final frontier’ for acceptance by many, with numerous athletes still waiting to come out until their professional careers are over. It’s exciting to see so many lesbians and bi women who are out and proud in Pyeongchang, and we hope to see many more in the future.