Paul Poirier captured hearts last night with ice dancing partner Piper Gilles, as the duo skated in the team event for Canada at the Winter Olympics in Beijing.
In you-cant-miss-it orange outfits, they skated to fourth place, racking up seven points for Canada. Their outfits are also memorable for the rainbow-colored feathers on his shoulders and her dress, seemingly a nod to Poirier being part of the LGBTQ community.
“We are really pleased with out performance today,” Poirier said after their foray into the team event. “It’s our first time getting back competing on Olympic ice. That is a really big deal for any athlete, so we’re really happy to have the team event together.”
This is the third Olympics for Poirier, having competed in 2010 with former partner Vanessa Crone.
Poirier and Gilles have a real shot at a medal at these Olympics, having won bronze at the World Championships last year. They’ll be competing against three other pairs with out gay men.
They are currently ranked fourth in the world. After the first night of the team event, Canada is ranked sixth, well within shot of a medal.
Poirier came out publicly last year during Pride Month in an interview with Toronto-based magazine Glory, hoping to be an inspiration for other LGBTQ athletes:
This Pride Month is a really good opportunity to share a bit more about my story, how my sexuality has made me the person and the athlete that I am today, and also perhaps be a role model for so many young queer athletes who are growing up and not really sure how to navigate that as they go through the world of sport.
He talked openly in that interview about having experienced teasing as a kid, competing in a sport that some people consider “effeminate.”
A lot of the teasing that comes with that, especially at a young age, forces us to build walls around ourselves. [It] creates a challenging environment to compete openly as a queer athlete because we feel like we’ve succumbed to the stereotypes. There is a lot of pressure, whether it’s subconscious or not, that we feel because of that.
Poirier is 30 years old and grew up in the Toronto area, where he earned a bachelors degree from the University of Toronto.
And for the guys out there, Poirier leaves you with this:
You can follow Paul Poirier on Instagram.