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Ski Champion Comes Out as Gay: ‘I’m Ready to Be Happy’

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Across men’s sports in general, there are few openly gay athletes. In the four North American major leagues — the N.F.L., the N.B.A., the N.H.L. and M.L.B. — there are no active players who publicly identify as L.G.B.T.Q., though a handful of former athletes have come out in recent years. If a team signs Ryan Russell, a free agent who came out as bisexual in 2019, he would be the second active, openly gay or bisexual N.F.L. player ever.

In women’s sports, there are many prominent gay players, including the soccer star and World Cup champion Megan Rapinoe and her fiancée, the W.N.B.A. all-star Sue Bird.

Roberts said a hyper-masculine vibe permeated Alpine skiing and put pressure on him to conform, especially when competing in Europe, where Alpine skiers are big celebrities.

While on the World Cup ski circuit from 2015-19, Roberts said he found himself in an atmosphere that almost encouraged womanizing. Instead, he opted for his hotel room, alone.

“There’s this idea that being a professional skier in Europe, you’re garnering the attention of women and you’re almost a little bit larger than life,” he said.

He and others also said an insular nature in the sport may discourage people from coming out.

“I think it’s vital to understand the broader atmosphere around Alpine skiing — it’s got its own unique ecosystem,” said Chris French, founder of Ski Bums, the world’s largest L.G.B.T.Q. skiing and snowboarding club. “It’s rural, it’s remote and it’s overwhelmingly white and wealthy. It’s got its own tourism, real estate, products and services — even media.”

Raised in the skiing hotbed of Steamboat Springs, Colo., Roberts does not remember strapping on his first pair of skis. He was barely 2.

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