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Remembering the Battle of the Brians

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The CBC revisits the dual between two gay Olympians 30 years ago.

Brian Orser (left) competed for Canada against Brian Boitano from the United States in an epic Olympic battle 30 years ago.
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It was the story of the 1988 Winter Olympics. Two athletes, both named Brian, from Canada and the United States, going toe loop to toe loop for Olympic gold.

In the end the scores of Brian Orser and Brian Boitano were separated by fractions, Boitano taking the free skate first-place votes 5-4, leaving the home country crushed to see its homegrown hero go down in defeat.

In the end, these two headline-makers also turned out to be gay.

A new CBC feature piece doesn’t touch on their sexual orientations in the piece (after all, they were both still in the closet at the time), yet the article, written by Vicki Hall, is a must-read for Olympic and figure skating enthusiasts. Since almost none of the current Winter Olympians were alive at the time, it might be a good read for them too.

Some of them will know Orser, who became a figure skating coach and is coaching five skaters in Pyeongchang, including the gold and bronze medalists in the men’s individual competition, Yuzuru Hanyu of Japan and Javier Fernandez of Spain.

They may also recognize Boitano’s name from the Sochi Olympics. He was one of three LGBTQ athletes — along with Billie Jean King and Caitlin Cahow — who were selected by President Obama to be part of the United States delegation, chosen to stick it to the Russians and their anti-LGBTQ laws. Boitano came out publicly due to his presence on the U.S. delegation in 2014.

Be sure to head over to the CBC for a great trip down Olympic memory lane.