Andrew Blaser may be relatively new to the sport of skeleton, but he’s already asserted himself as one of the top skeleton racers in the United States.
The former decathlete for the Univ. of Idaho first took to the sport in 2012, but he didn’t start competing on the international stage until 2016. Now five years later, the gay athlete is aiming for a Team USA spot at the 2022 Winter Olympic Games. And he can use your help to get there.
If he makes it, he’ll be one of the few publicly out gay men competing in Beijing.
This week Blaser talks with me on Outsports’ Five Rings To Rule Them All podcast about being not just a gay man in his sport, but coming out in his Mormon family.
While this is the first time he’s talking with the media specifically about being gay, he’s been more open about it on social media over the last year, including a rainbow flag in his Instagram bio, wearing rainbows and using LGBTQ-themed hashtags.
Totally out in his life — his mom sent him a copy of Dustin Lance Black’s book Mama’s Boy — he’s not shying away from being gay in any way. While men wearing nail polish isn’t necessarily owned by gay men, it can certainly raise some eyebrows. Recently Blaser started wearing nail polish — blue, to represent a color of the American flag — in life and at competitions.
“I’m more self conscious about it in the grocery store or around my family, and things like that,” Blaser says on the podcast. “Whereas when we’re going to sliding and practice, I think it’s kind of funny and it’s a little bit of shock value. Just making people turn their head and kind of catch them off guard which is a little bit of what I do with my jewelry and even my race suit, which is snake skin. I’m the only one who has a snakeskin print suit.
“It makes me laugh a little and keeps it light-hearted.”
Someone else who helps him keep it light-hearted is fellow skeleton racer Kendall Wesenberg, also publicly out and a past guest on Five Rings To Rule Them All. In fact, it was that interview that spurred Blaser to contact me 18 months ago. Not ready at the time to share his story, he’s now happy to be out and proud with one of his besties.
At the Intercontinental Cup in Whistler, Vancouver, this past weekend, Blaser finished sixth overall and the top American at the competition, a great start to the competition season for him.
As he aims for the Winter Olympics, there are two elements at play. First is the number of spots Team USA will get at the Games — likely two, but Blaser is hoping they can earn enough points to make it three.
Then is which athletes will be selected to fill those spots. Blaser said he is in the top three for the United States right now. John Daly — a 20-year veteran of the sport who’s been to three Olympics — and Austin Florian — a top-10 finisher at the 2019 World Championships — are the other two top Americans.
Blaser’s next opportunity to shine will be at the North American Cup in Park City, Utah, this weekend.
In the meantime, he can use financial assistance from anyone who’s capable, and who wants to support an out gay athlete. To compete for one of those spots in the Olympics, he needs to train and travel. Team USA covers expenses for the top two racers from the team trials — and Blaser was third. He has set up a gofundme for people who are able to contribute to the cause.
You can listen to the conversation with Olympic hopeful Andrew Blaser on the Five Rings To Rule Them All podcast on Megaphone, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Apple podcasts and many more platforms. Just search for Outsports wherever you get your podcast.
And be sure to follow Five Rings To Rule Them All on Twitter.