Hig Roberts, a two-time national champion in Alpine skiing, has become the first elite men’s Alpine skier to publicly come out as gay, hoping to encourage others to be themselves.
In an interview with The New York Times, Roberts said he first began to realize that he might be gay when he was just 12-years-old, but he buried those feelings deep because he couldn’t reconcile the idea of being gay with being a professional skier.
The 29-year-old recently retired from professional Alpine skiing and moved to Norway to pursue a career in finance, but he wanted to come out publicly to help young athletes questioning whether there is a place for them at the highest echelons of skiing.
“Not being able to be who I am and not be able to be openly gay as a professional athlete was truly hindering my performance. I just woke up one morning and I said, ‘Enough is enough.’”
“I love this sport more than anything – I’m so lucky and privileged to be doing this – but I can’t go on another day not trying to achieve the person that I’m meant to be. Which I think for each and every one of us, one of those main goals needs to be happiness and authenticity,” he added.
Roberts said womanizing was almost encouraged on the World cup ski circuit, which he competed in between 2015 and 2019 – and the culture made it even harder for him to come out.
Instead, he spent much of his time on the ski circuit alone in hotel rooms.
“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
The NYT adds: “He joins only a few L.G.B.T.Q. athletes in elite skiing who are out. Anja Pärson, a former Alpine skier from Sweden, came out as lesbian in 2012. Erik Schinegger wrote a book in 1988 about his experience as a transgender and intersex skier after coming out in 1968. And Gus Kenworthy, a former U.S. freestyle skier who now competes for Britain, came out as gay on ESPN in 2015.”