Gus Kenworthy stumbles in Olympic slopestyle final

Jeff Passan
MLB columnist
Gus Kenworthy, of the United States, jumps during the men’s slopestyle final at Phoenix Snow Park at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. (AP)

PYEONGCHANG, South Korea – American Gus Kenworthy, whose solidarity with figure skater Adam Rippon and defiance toward vice president Mike Pence made him simultaneously a target of derision of Trump supporters and a hero in the gay community, failed to medal in slopestyle skiing Sunday, denying him a second consecutive podium finish after his silver at the Sochi Games.

The 26-year-old Kenworthy overcame a broken thumb suffered earlier in the week in training to throw out a dazzling array of tricks on the slopestyle course, which includes three rail-heavy features before three large jumps. But he fell on his first two runs in the finals, then bailed midway through his third after another stumble

Norway’s Oystein Braaten won gold, American Nick Goepper took silver and Canada’s Alex Beaulieu-Marchand took bronze.

Kenworthy announced he was gay in an ESPN story a year after he finished second as part of an American podium sweep in 2014. He was a breakout star in Sochi, not just on account of his medal but because of his efforts to rescue the city’s stray dogs, a number of whom he adopted.

His criticisms of the Trump administration, and in particular Pence, have helped create a social-media storm during the PyeongChang Games. After he broke his thumb, Kenworthy tweeted: “It does prevent me from shaking Pence’s hand so … Silver linings!”

Despite the rash of negative feedback criticizing him, Kenworthy did not allow it to dampen his enthusiasm competing for his country, which he showed in an Instagram post with a simple caption.

“I love my country,” it said.

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