Ice, ice, baby

US ski champion Hig Roberts comes out as gay

 

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Retired, national ski champion Hig Roberts has come out as gay in interviews with the New York Times and Out.

Roberts, 29, an American Alpine skier, has twice won national events – in 2017 and 2018 – before retiring in 2019.

During his professional career, he competed multiple times in the World Cup and is the first member of the US Alpine Ski Team to come out as gay. He narrowly missed out on competing for the American team at the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics.

“I am gay,” he told the NY Times. “It’s part of me and I’m proud of it, and I’m ready to be happy.”

 

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Alpine skiing is considered one of the toughest, dangerous, and hyper-masculine winter sports, with skiers flying down slopes at 80-90 miles per hour.

Related: Gus Kenworthy is looking to advance his career with thirsty photos

Roberts says that he had known he was gay since he was young but struggled to come out to anyone else in the sport for a long time. He believes the mental toll of staying in the closet impacted his performance and certainly robbed him of some of the joy of his career.

“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.”

He told Out, “I had moments of standing on the podium with national titles and still feeling depressed. I was almost in a daze because of the mental anguish I would feel. I had sleepless nights. I had anxiety attacks. I had big bouts of depression. I had to closet all of that from my teammates and my coaches.”

After stepping down last year, he relocated to Norway to work in finance, but is now back in the US.

On deciding to come out now, he says: “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 am meant to be. Which I think for each and every one of us, one of those main goals needs to be happiness and authenticity.”

Roberts was raised in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. He first skied at the age of two. At age nine, he shattered his femur during a skiing accident and spent a year recovering. The incident did not put him off from getting back on the slopes and trying again.

He says he first began to think about his sexuality at the age of 12, but being gay did not fit in with his idea of being an Alpine skier.

 

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While his career flourished, Roberts suffered a personal blow. In 2016, his beloved younger brother, Murphy, 22, suffered a diabetic seizure while out hiking and died. His death hit Roberts hard. Murphy had always encouraged his brother to live an authentic life, but Roberts knew he was holding himself back from doing so.

Related: Olympian Gus Kenworthy reveals he considered suicide before coming out

He says that he looks back with pride on his career, but not coming out when he was competing professionally, not being his true self at the time, felt like “a very tough pill to swallow.”

However, he adds, “I’m a firm believer that my journey happened the way it was supposed to have happened, to go through all this turmoil and struggle to arrive at the destination.

“I’ve had to embrace that this is the way my story was supposed to play out. When I came out, it was truly time. I was ready in all facets of my life.”