American freestyle skier Gus Kenworthy won’t let a broken thumb get in the way of his Olympic dreams, but it could make it difficult for him to shake hands with Vice President Mike Pence.
Kenworthy, the defending slopestyle silver medalist from the 2014 Sochi Games, fractured the digit during practice Thursday, tweeting out a photo of the X-ray and assuring fans that the accident won’t keep him from competing in the Men’s Slopestyle competition on Sunday. But Kenworthy said that injury could “prevent me from shaking Pence’s hand,” making him the second openly gay athlete to dodge a meeting with the veep.
“Silver linings!” an upbeat Kenworthy tweeted, adding that he would be giving the other athletes from Team USA “an enthusiastic ‘thumbs up!’ of encouragement.”
Adam Rippon, 28, another openly gay Olympian who helped Team USA win the team figure skating bronze last week, reportedly declined a meeting with Pence and called him out for his history of opposition to gay rights.
“If it were before my event, I would absolutely not go out of my way to meet somebody who I felt has gone out of their way to not only show that they aren’t a friend of a gay person but that they think that they’re sick. I wouldn’t go out of my way to meet somebody like that,” Rippon told USA Today.
Kenworthy and Rippon also made a powerful statement on social media ahead of the opening ceremony with a shared kiss, captioned “We’re here. We’re queer. Get used to it.”
While Kenworthy’s injury won’t stop him from hitting the slopes on Sunday, he may have to ski without poles and it could affect tricks that involve grabbing his skis, a key part of his overall style score, USA Today reports.