Gus Kenworthy is considered to be one of the greatest freestyle skiers in the world, but after he came out in an ESPN interview last year, he’s achieved a level of celebrity that goes well beyond his ability to make it down a mountain.
And as such, all eyes were on Kenworthy at the X Games, a competition in which he’s never medaled – until last night, when he managed to have one of the best runs in the SuperPipe competition and took home a silver medal for his efforts. Even better was the fact that his boyfriend, actor Matthew Wilkas, is there to witness it. Shortly after his triumph, Kenworthy spoke with Rolling Stone from Aspen, and shared photos that revealed a private glimpse of how he was nursing his heel injury as he prepares for his next two events during the X Games this weekend.
Congrats on winning silver last night. You’ve said SuperPipe isn’t your favorite event, but you were amazing.
Thanks. Yeah, it’s not the discipline I grew up skiing. I didn’t even ski halfpipe until I was 14 because the resort where I lived didn’t have one. So it wasn’t always my favorite event, but I grew into it. I love it now, and last night was amazing. It was a special night for me: It was my first event after coming back from the worst injury I ever had. And it’s the first event since coming out of the closet and first event of X Games this year. It felt really amazing. I was really, really happy with the round, and I thought, “Wow I couldn’t have done it better!” Honestly I think that was my best run. I was really happy about that. And to get my first X Games medal in Aspen was amazing.
I remember one of the things you said in your ESPN interview last year was that you didn’t have a “TV boyfriend,” and now you have Matt there with you. Tell me what it was like taking pics with him after the run.
Yeah, the TV boyfriend thing sounds weird, I know. But everyone I looked up to growing up, they would show their girlfriend on TV – you know, Simon Dumont’s girlfriend, or Tanner Hall’s girlfriend, or whatever. I was just kind of bummed that it was something that I’d never have. I felt like I was never going to be confident and authentic and introduce someone as my boyfriend to the reporters and have him on TV. It was really special to want to do that and be happy about it. It was amazing. I looked up at the screen and saw Matt at the bottom. And it was touching being there with my mom, my boyfriend and my agent – my little support team.
This is your first X Games since coming out and you said you were worried it might be strange. Has it been?
Honestly it’s not like a strange thing or a big change. I’m just way more confident in my skiing and everything. I don’t think there’s a direct correlation between my sexuality and my skiing ability. But I think because I was so concerned about it being found out, it was a distraction. It was pulling me away from the competition and made me lose focus. Now, having it off my chest, I can just worry about skiing and not any of the other stuff.