Olympic Lesbians: Who Should We Be Cheering For?


Here’s my problem with the Olympics: when the U.S. isn’t playing, I have no idea who to root for. The country closest to home? The underdog? The team with the jauntiest national anthem? This winter season, four openly queer athletes competing in Vancouver have made the decision a little easier. Although there are currently no Americans on the list, these women make compelling cases to wave a foreign flag.

Erika Holst, 30, is a Swedish ice hockey player competing in her third Olympics. 2006 was a momentous year for Holst—she captured the silver medal at the Winter Olympics in Turin and came out publicly as a lesbian along with teammate Ylva Lindberg.

Sarah Vaillancourt, 24, is competing in her second Olympic Games on the Canadian ice hockey team. She scored two goals and four assists when Canada took the gold medal at Turin in 2006, and currently plays for the Harvard University team. A native of Quebec, Vaillancourt has been out and proud since her freshman year.

Photo: Bjarte Hetland

Before you blow all your money on hockey-themed foam fingers, though, I should mention the other two openly queer women at the Vancouver Games: Vibeke Skofterud and Ireen Wüst. Skofterud, 29, is a cross-country skier from Norway competing in her third Winter Olympics. She won her best individual finish at Salt Lake City in 2002, taking 8th place in the 30km event. This year, she took 22nd in the Women’s 10k individual. In June 2008, she came out publicly as being in a relationship with a woman.

Ireen Wüst, a speed skater from the Netherlands, already took home the gold medal in the women’s 1500m this year. In the 2006 Olympics in Turin, she became the youngest Dutch Olympian ever at 19, winning the gold for the 3000m. Wüst came out publicly in November 2009 and has a girlfriend.

With one week left on the 2010 Olympics season, Skofterud and Wüst’s events have already concluded. Women’s Ice Hockey heads into the Play-off Semi-Finals this afternoon, though, and there’s still time to call in sick to work. Both Canada and Sweden are strong contenders for the gold – thus, the loyal lesbian viewer finds herself at a crossroads: Team Holst or Team Vaillancourt? Oh wait, is Team U.S.A. still in this?

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