Out LGBTQ Olympian competing in new snowboarding event hopes to win gold

All together the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympic games will have a record of 109 sporting events with seven new events in snowboarding, bobsled and skiing categories. Belle Brockhoff is one of the 35 out LGBTQ Olympians to compete in one of the seven new categories. Of those categories four are mixed events introduced for the very first time.

Mixed games have become a fundamental part of building gender-equality in the Olympics and Paralympics. As of right now, there are no transgender Winter Olympians, and Timothy LeDuc, American, pair skater, is the only, and first-ever, non-binary Olympian competing this winter. As far as we know cisgender men and women will be the only genders competing in the new mixed events.

The new events are freestyle skiing mixed team aerials, men and women’s freski big air skiing, mixed team relay in short track speed skating, mixed team ski jumping, mixed team snowboard cross, and monobob, which is exclusive to women.

Let’s meet the LGBTQ Olympic snowboarder we know to be competing in one of the new events: Belle Brockhoff. Sometimes considered the most vocal athlete made her debut at the 2014 Sochi Games and competed in the 2018 Pyeongchang Games. She is involved in LGBTQ+ advocacy and came out prior to the 2014 Sochi Games in protest of anti-LGBTQ laws in Russia. The persevering snowboarder will compete in the new mixed team snowboard cross event.

The 14x World Cup medalist came out with conviction and a tireless will to compete as an out athlete. If Brockhoff wore a pride pin at the Sochi Games she could have been detained or deported due to Russia's "Gay Propaganda Law," something Brockhoff did not want to risk then. Belle said that she found the laws to be sad and disrespectful in 2013 interview with ABC TV Australia:

"I have a feeling that I would have to kinda go back into the closet a little bit because I don't want to risk my, like, um, you know, safety, being arrested or deported. I want to be able to compete and, you know, live my dream and become an Olympian. That's always what I've wanted to do," said Brockhhoff in 2013.

The Olympian said that it was her dream to represent Australia and win gold in 2014, and now, nearly nine years later, she has another shot.

Brockhoff and her teammate will be battling it out for the gold against 16 other teams in the new mixed team snowboard cross event. Each team has two people of different genders, typically one man and one woman. The men compete first and then the women. When the first team member crosses the line, his time advantage over the competitor transfers to his teammate. The female counterpart then begins her run with the time advantage added to the beginning. Whichever woman passes the finish line first wins. The quarter-finals start on Feb 12 at 10:00 Beijing time, followed by the semifinals at 10:30, the small finals at 10:50 and the big final right after.

Other new events will include:

Freestyle skiing mixed team aerials consists of three skiers of different genders per team. The teams can choose whether they want one man and two women, two women and one man. The individual skiers shoot down a slope, up a ramp and twist, flip and turn to score. The winner will be the team with the most points. The event will kick off Feb. 10 at 19:00 local time. The second final will start at 19:50, deciding the medalist. 

Big air skiing is when athletes fling themselves off a ramp, high into the sky, and perform flip and twist tricks scored on difficulty, amplitude, execution and landing. Big air skiers get three runs in two rounds, the qualification round and the final round. Once the top 12 riders advance to the final, their top two scores will add together for final results. Three qualification rounds for both men and women will begin on Feb. 7 between 9:30-11:00 Beijing time for women and between 13:30-15:00 for men. Women will begin their first run Feb. 8 at 10:00, with the second at 10:22, and the third and final run at 10:45. Men will begin their first run Feb. 9 at 11:00, with the second run at 11:22, and the third and final run at 11:45.

Mix team ski jumping made its international debut at the World Cup 2012. The skiing event is made up of four skiers, typically two women and two men who compete in a patterned order of woman, man, woman, man. The event has one trial round and two rounds of competition. The best eight from the first competition round advance to the second round. Competitors will fight for medals in reverse order. The competition will begin Feb. 7. The Trial Round will go between 18:28 and 19:07 local time. The first round of competitions will begin at 19:45, then the final round will be at 20:51. The event is scheduled to finish by 21:27. 

Mixed team relay short track speed skating is a 2,000 meter race over the course of 18 laps of track that is 111.12 meters long. The athletes will race in the order of woman, woman, man, man, woman, woman, man, man. The mixed relay will take place after the Opening Ceremony on Feb. 5 at 20:23 local time. The quarter finals will be followed by the semi-finals. The entire event will finish by 21:34.

Monobob is the individual version of bobsleigh racing where racers compete for the fastest time by pushing, jumping and maneuvering a sled at upwards to 65 mph. The first competition will start on Feb. 13 at 9:30 local time, with the first two heats. At 11:45 the first Olympic monobob medalist will be crowned. 

GLAAD celebrates the historic 35 out LGBTQ athletes competing in the 2022 Winter Olympics. Alongside Athlete Ally, a national nonprofit working to elevate and advocate for LGBTQ athletes, and OutChina, GLAAD is proud to release a “Guide to Covering LGBTQ Athletes at the 2022 Olympics and Paralympics” as a resource to journalists and media professionals. You can access the guide here or use the QR code below: 

"Covering LGBTQ Athletes" QR code accented by the Olympic rings