When Eric Radford and his pairs skating partner Meagan Duhamel of Canada finished second last weekend at an ISU Grand Prix Final event in Barcelona, it marked the end of an impressive streak for the world champions. Prior to that, Radford and Duhamel had won nine consecutive international events.
In March, Radford became the first openly gay skater to win a world championship when he and Duhamel took the gold in China. This earns him the Outsports male athlete of the year award.
What is impressive about what Radford did was that it was accomplished in a judged sport, where bias by judges can creep in. Yet he was out and proud in a sport where a lot of top skaters remain closeted, fearing they might be marked down if they are out. Until the silver in Barcelona, Radford and Duhamel had won every event since he came out in Outsports last December.
"A big part was just feeling completely comfortable in own skin, in my life and in my skating," Radford told the Ottawa Citizen this spring. "An opportunity presented itself when the Canadian Figure Skating Association announced a program to focus on LGBT issues in the sport.
"I didn't put a lot of thought into it. I did my interview with Outsports, thinking maybe people who follow skating or have an idea who I am will notice, and then next day it was on the front page of the National Post.
"There has always been that stereotype around figure skating. ... I really want sexuality to become a non-issue in sport. Gay athletes should have no fear to talk about their lives."
It was a tough choice this year for male athlete, with these athletes as runners-up:
- Slopestyle skier Gus Kenworthy is also a world champion and last weekend won the Dew Tour championship in Breckenridge, Colo. Kenworthy came out as gay in October.
- Jack Thorne, a swimmer at Thompson Valley High School in Loveland, Colo., won his third consecutive state championship in the 100-yard backstroke over the weekend. He swam the final race in a All-American and 4A state record time of 48.30 seconds. He already owned the state record before. Thorne came out publicly as gay last year.
- College soccer player Jesse Klug capped off a stellar career this fall. A two-time all-Patriot League selection, Klug finished his career with 77 points, 29 goals and 19 assists, finishing sixth, eighth, and seventh all-time at Bucknell in those respective categories. He also led Bucknell to the 2014 Patriot League tournament title and the accompanying NCAA tournament berth.
- Chris Mosier, a transgender endurance athlete, earned a spot on Team USA and will compete in the sprint duatholon at the 2016 World Championship in Spain. Mosier is a trans man and earned the spot in the male category - the first out trans athlete we know of to accomplish that feat.