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First Non-Binary Winter Olympics Figure Skater Speaks Out About Mark They Hope To Leave On The Sport

Ashley Cain-Gribble and Timothy LeDuc at the US Figure Skating Championships
(Image credit: NBC Sports)

The 2022 Winter Olympics broke ground for the LGBTQ+ community. After a record-breaking 186 queer athletes competed in the 2020 games in Tokyo, this year’s events featured more LGBTQ+ athletes in the history of the Winter Olympics. Timothy LeDuc made headlines when they became the first openly nonbinary hopeful to compete — and they’re hoping to leave their mark on and off the ice. (And in less controversial ways than Kamila Valieva.)

Timothy LeDuc shared their optimistic outlook for the future of LGBTQ+ athletes in the Olympics with CNN. They said: 

Hopefully, people watching us can feel like they can lead with authenticity, that they don’t feel like they have to change things about themselves in order to reach their success in sport and to chase their dreams.

The number of LGBTQ+ Olympic athletes has slowly risen over the last few years, but openly non-binary contestants are still a rarity. With Timothy LeDuc’s participation, more gender non-conforming athletes may feel empowered to share their authentic selves on a global platform. Sometimes, all it takes is one small push to start a major movement. 

In addition to clearing the way for LGBTQ+ athletes to compete, Timothy LeDuc and skating partner Ashley Cain-Gribble are also revamping established stories.  In a sport and a world where the gender binary continues to dictate social norms, their plot lines are an attempt to subvert the narrative. Where traditional pairs consist of a male and a female skater that often focus on a romantic theme, Timothy LeDuc and Ashley Cain-Gribble opt to present a more unified front. LeDuc told CNN: 

Ashley and I are just different in that way; we've never done a romantic story and we've never been a romantic pair. We've always been about equality and showing two amazing athletes coming together to create something beautiful.

Timothy LeDuc and Ashley Cain-Gribble don’t just talk the talk, they also walk the walk (or maybe skate the skate is more applicable). They often perform similar movements in their routines, as opposed to the female skater being constantly lifted while a male-presenting skater simply provides a base. Ashley Cain-Gribble also typically sports a bejeweled unitard that matches Timothy LeDuc’s outfit, as opposed to the standard dress or skirt combo that female skaters usually don. 

There’s nothing wrong with these traditional mores, as LeDuc and Cain-Gribble point out, but an issue arises when only one narrative is touted as the ‘norm.’ The skating duo hopes that their increased level of visibility will inspire skaters of any gender to live and compete as their true selves. 

Only time will tell if the work of Timothy LeDuc and Ashley Cain-Gribble can make a lasting impact on the world of figure skating. But if the increasing visibility of the LGBTQ+ community in the media is any indication, their efforts are just the first step towards a more inclusive and accepting playing field. 

The 2022 Winter Olympics may be over, but you can still relive the incredible athleticism and stunning feats of strength with your Peacock Premium subscription or via another streaming platform. You can also check out more upcoming TV premiere dates to fill your schedule now that the Olympics have drawn to a close. 

Actor, singer, and occasional dancer. Likes: fashion, books, old buildings. Dislikes: cilantro, the NJ Turnpike, sneaker wedges.