Jan 27, 2022 - Sports

Timothy LeDuc will become first-ever openly nonbinary winter Olympian

Timothy LeDuc is the first nonbinary athlete in the winter Olympics.
Ashley Cain-Gribble and Timothy LeDuc skate on Oct. 29, 2021 in Vancouver, British Columbia. Photo: Matthew Stockman - International Skating Union/International Skating Union via Getty Images

Cedar Rapids native Timothy LeDuc will be the first-ever openly nonbinary winter Olympian.

Why it matters: It's a particularly significant milestone for pairs figure skating, which heavily relies on gender stereotypes for choreography and scoring.

Driving the news: LeDuc, who uses they/them pronouns, is Iowa's sole Olympian heading to Beijing next week.

  • The 31-year-old will compete in pairs, alongside their partner, Ashley Cain-Gribble, after winning the U.S. Figure Skating Championships pairs title earlier this month.

Background: At age 18, LeDuc woke up their parents in the middle of the night at their Cedar Rapids home and came out as gay.

  • LeDuc, who grew up in a Christian, conservative household, said the news was difficult for their family and church members at first.
  • Some family members went so far as bringing in people who "basically tried to perform an exorcism," LeDuc told NBC Sports.

Figure skating was a solace for LeDuc at the time and they went on to perform and place in major competitions, including junior bronze in the 2011 U.S. Championships.

  • Then in 2018, LeDuc came out again. This time, at 28, they publicly shared they identify as nonbinary.
  • "Through a lot of introspection, through seeking authenticity I found I exist outside of the binary, so I don't align perfectly with manhood or womanhood," LeDuc told NBC.

Between the lines: With Cain-Gribble as a partner, the two devoted themselves to breaking the gender normative roles of a man and woman playing romantic roles.

  • That was best seen in their stunning 2019 free skate championship performance where they took first in a piece called "Two Pillars of Equality."

What's next: Cheer on LeDuc and Cain-Gribble when the 2022 Olympic Winter Games start Feb. 4.

Go deeper