Two-time Winter Olympian and LGBTQ+ advocate Gus Kenworthy announced he will be partnering with Backcountry for the first athlete partnership the gear website has formed since the brand started creating their own outerwear products.
“I am not looking for a paycheck or a sponsor as much as I want a partnership with brands that I am connected to and it is much easier to do that when a brand believes in the same goals and responsibilities,” says Kenworthy.
Kenworthy recently made headlines when he announced that he would not be competing in the next Olympic games for the United States. Instead, he will be competing for Great Britain. Born in the United Kingdom, Kenworthy moved to Telluride as a child where he learned how to ski. Qualifying for the U.S. Freestyle Ski Team in one discipline is nearly impossible as the top athletes in the country battle it out in a series of grueling qualifying competitions for one of the four spots available.
As a very versatile skier, switching teams will allow Kenworthy to compete in halfpipe, slopestyle, and the debut of big air skiing in the Olympics, which he has been trying to do since his first Olympic Games. Kenworthy narrowly missed the qualification for halfpipe in the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea.
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“The transition has been seamless,” says Kenworthy. “At the end of the day, freeskiing is an individual sport and I am still representing myself and my community, but very happy to wave the GB flag during the Olympics as part of my mum’s heritage.”
Kenworthy rose to prominence winning the first of five consecutive Association of Freeskiing Professionals overall titles in 2011. In 2014, Gus Kenworthy became a household name after winning a silver medal in slopestyle at the Sochi Winter Olympics and then rescuing a number of stray dogs from the region. A year after rising to fame, Kenworthy came out and quickly became a leading voice in the movement for equality and LGBTQ+ rights. Most recently, his efforts have been focused off the snow, as he appeared in nine episodes of American Horror Story.
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In the first partnership of its kind for Backcountry, the brand hopes this will reflect its belief that everyone belongs in the backcountry. The brands roster includes the athletes at the National Ability Center, a Park City-based adaptive sports organization with global reach that empowers individuals of all abilities through outdoor adventures.
“Whenever I partner with a brand, I make sure it’s a company that aligns themselves with the same messages of inclusivity and acceptance,” says Kenworthy. “Backcountry has a huge network and I am excited for us to share our platforms together to spread this message.”
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