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Freestyle skier Gus Kenworthy comes out, says time wasn’t right at Sochi Olympics

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DENVER (AP) — When Gus Kenworthy would let his mind wander into how his perfect Olympics might play out, he pictured a certain scene.

He’d land his best tricks on his final run, win a medal and then — the capper — jump into the stands, ski boots and all, to share a big hug and kiss with the man who meant so much to him.

“That would’ve been an amazing way to come out,” said Kenworthy, the freestyle skier who won the silver medal in Sochi.

But the timing, to say nothing of the country, wasn’t quite right to tell the world he was gay. And so Kenworthy left Russia in February 2014 known best as the compassionate daredevil who adopted several stray dogs he came across in the mountains — and as the man who was part of an historic U.S. sweep of the first Olympic ski slopestyle contest.

Because he wasn’t ready, the journey to Sochi was far less perfect than it could’ve been for the 24-year-old from Telluride, Colorado, who on Thursday, in interviews with The Associated Press and ESPN The Magazine, revealed to the public that he is gay.

He joined other high-profile athletes, including football player Michael Sam, recently retired NBA player Jason Collins and Los Angeles Galaxy soccer player Robbie Rogers, to come out.

MORE: U.S. silver medalist figure skater Adam Rippon comes out

“I felt like I was already being so courageous with my body and my actions and the things I was doing in order to try to win and be the best,” Kenworthy said at his home in Denver. “Then, I was being such a coward in this other way, where I wouldn’t let anyone know. So they were battling each other. I’m excited where those two things can go hand in hand.”

As young as age 5, Kenworthy felt he was different. Growing up in a mountain town with about 2,000 residents and only 50 kids in the school gives a boy who knows he’s gay few places to hide. He threw himself into skiing to show he was every bit as tough and brave as anyone else.

But there was no denying he felt conflicted. He spoke of severe depression, thoughts of suicide, the internal battle of how to “live authentically and not feel like I need to hide anymore.”

Heading into the biggest ski contest of his life, he wasn’t all the way there. He hadn’t told his parents, or his brothers. And though he had let himself get caught up in the idea of a celebratory kiss with his boyfriend at the bottom of the hill, and the many messages it would send, he knew it couldn’t happen.

“The idea of kissing my boyfriend at the bottom of my run would’ve been, in addition to me coming out, a silent f— you to the anti-gay legislature in place in Russia,” he said.

MORE: Skiing, snowboard community reacts to Gus Kenworthy

Instead, his post-victory tour involved him being portrayed as the pet-loving heartthrob who brought Olympic glory to his home country. Typical of winning athletes who go on their post-Olympic interview tours, he faced questions about much more than just skiing.

Who is your celebrity crush? Miley Cyrus, Kenworthy lied.

How do you feel about saving all those dogs? He couldn’t tell the real story and so he lied again: Couldn’t be happier.

Truth was, he was nothing more than a casual fan of Cyrus, and the person who did most of the hard work with the dogs — including staying behind in Russia for more than a month to get them back to the United States — was his boyfriend at the time.

“He got zero credit and I was getting asked about it on every show and in every interview,” Kenworthy said.

Much as the label “Dog Guy” stuck with him long after Sochi, Kenworthy is aware he could be cast, too simply, as the “Gay Skier.”

But in the 20 months since his trip to Russia, where debate raged over gay rights and the government’s law against gay “propaganda,” Kenworthy has become more assured about who he is, both on and off the slopes. He has won a title on the Dew Tour, more World Cup podiums and had a legitimate chance at the overall championship last season until a leg and knee injury ended things early.

Relegated to the gym for months of rehab, he finally had the time to crystalize his feelings about whether he was ready to tell the world who he really is.

He said he likes the idea of coming out while he’s at the top of his game, while people in his sport — especially kids — are paying attention.

“We admire Gus for having the strength to tell the world who he is as a person, and paving the way for others to do the same,” said Tiger Shaw, the CEO of U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association.

While the locker-room atmosphere of football or basketball doesn’t exist in freestyle skiing, it is still a sport built on a certain brand of devil-may-care machismo. How will a gay skier be received among this cadre of daredevils?

For a man who makes a living catapulting off of 70-foot-high ramps, this is a very different sort of leap.

“I don’t know what the future has in store,” Kenworthy said, “but I’m kind of looking forward to it.”

MORE FREESTYLE SKIING: Gus Kenworthy trying to save group of Sochi stray puppies

2019 Vuelta a Espana TV, live stream schedule

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The Vuelta a España, the cycling season’s third and final Grand Tour, airs live for every stage between NBC Sports and Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA the next three weeks.

NBC Sports Gold streams live, commercial-free coverage of all 21 stages via the “Cycling Pass.”

NBCSN and Olympic Channel combine for daily TV coverage of the Spanish Grand Tour.

Colombian Nairo Quintana headlines the field, eyeing his third Grand Tour title and his first since the 2016 Vuelta. Perhaps the most most accomplished rider is Movistar teammate and world road race champion Alejandro Valverde.

Steven Kruijswijk, who was third at the Tour de France, and Primož Roglič, who was third at the Giro d’Italia, are other podium contenders.

Tejay van Garderen is the most accomplished of the nine U.S. riders in the field, coming back from a crash that prematurely ended his Tour de France in July.

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MORE: Chris Froome: Crash was like ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ scene

Date Time (ET) Stage Platform
Sat., Aug. 24 12:35 p.m. Stage 1 (LIVE) NBC Sports Gold
4 p.m. Stage 1 Olympic Channel
Sun., Aug. 25 1 a.m. Stage 1 NBCSN
9 a.m. Stage 2 (LIVE) NBC Sports Gold
10 a.m. Stage 2 (LIVE) Olympic Channel
Mon, Aug. 26 1 a.m. Stage 2 NBCSN
9 a.m. Stage 3 (LIVE) NBC Sports Gold
10 a.m. Stage 3 (LIVE) Olympic Channel
Tues., Aug. 27 9 a.m. Stage 4 (LIVE) NBC Sports Gold
10 a.m. Stage 4 (LIVE) Olympic Channel
Wed., Aug. 28 9 a.m. Stage 5 (LIVE) NBC Sports Gold
10 a.m. Stage 5 (LIVE) Olympic Channel
Thurs., Aug. 29 9 a.m. Stage 6 (LIVE) NBC Sports Gold
10 a.m. Stage 6 (LIVE) Olympic Channel
12 p.m. Stage 6 NBCSN
Fri., Aug. 30 9 a.m. Stage 7 (LIVE) NBC Sports Gold
10 a.m. Stage 7 (LIVE) Olympic Channel
Sat., Aug. 31 9 a.m. Stage 8 (LIVE) NBC Sports Gold
10 a.m. Stage 8 (LIVE) Olympic Channel
Sun., Sept. 1 9 a.m. Stage 9 (LIVE) NBC Sports Gold
10 a.m. Stage 9 (LIVE) Olympic Channel
Tues., Sept. 3 9 a.m. Stage 10 (LIVE) NBC Sports Gold
10 a.m. Stage 10 (LIVE) Olympic Channel
Wed., Sept. 4 9 a.m. Stage 11 (LIVE) NBC Sports Gold
10 a.m. Stage 11 (LIVE) Olympic Channel
Thurs., Sept. 5 9 a.m. Stage 12 (LIVE) NBC Sports Gold
10 a.m. Stage 12 (LIVE) Olympic Channel
Fri., Sept. 6 9 a.m. Stage 13 (LIVE) NBC Sports Gold
10 a.m. Stage 13 (LIVE) Olympic Channel
Sat., Sept. 7 9 a.m. Stage 14 (LIVE) NBC Sports Gold
10 a.m. Stage 14 (LIVE) Olympic Channel
Sun., Sept. 8 6:35 a.m. Stage 15 (LIVE) NBC Sports Gold
10 a.m. Stage 15 (LIVE) Olympic Channel
Mon., Sept. 9 1 a.m. Stage 15 Olympic Channel
7:05 a.m. Stage 16 (LIVE) NBC Sports Gold
10 a.m. Stage 16 (LIVE) Olympic Channel
Wed., Sept. 11 9 a.m. Stage 17 (LIVE) NBC Sports Gold
10 a.m. Stage 17 (LIVE) Olympic Channel
12 p.m. Stage 17 NBCSN
Thurs., Sept. 12 6:05 a.m. Stage 18 (LIVE) NBC Sports Gold
10 a.m. Stage 18 (LIVE) Olympic Channel
Fri., Sept. 13 9 a.m. Stage 19 (LIVE) NBC Sports Gold
10 a.m. Stage 19 (LIVE) Olympic Channel
12 p.m. Stage 19 NBCSN
Sat., Sept. 14 5:40 a.m. Stage 20 (LIVE) NBC Sports Gold
10 a.m. Stage 20 (LIVE) Olympic Channel
Sun., Sept. 15 10:45 a.m. Stage 21 (LIVE) NBC Sports Gold
1 p.m. Stage 21 (LIVE) Olympic Channel
3 p.m. Madrid Challenge – Women’s Race Olympic Channel
Mon., Sept. 16 1 a.m. Stage 21 NBCSN

Noah Lyles a must-see in Paris; Diamond League TV, live stream schedule

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The last time Noah Lyles raced a Diamond League 200m, he became the fourth-fastest man in history. His follow-up comes against a field of similar strength in Paris on Saturday

Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA airs live coverage from 2-4 p.m. ET. NBC Sports Gold streams live coverage starting at noon.

Lyles could look to improve on the 19.50 he ran in Lausanne on July 5, when he moved to No. 4 on the all-time list behind Usain BoltYohan Blake and Michael Johnson. There’s reason to believe he can, given the Swiss race was into a slight headwind.

And because most of the major players from Lausanne are back for Paris. That includes Turkey’s Ramil Guliyev, who won the 2017 World title while Lyles was out injured.

Two more notables — Olympic bronze medalist Christophe Lemaitre of France and Nigeria’s Divine Oduduru, the third-fastest man this year — are in Saturday’s field after missing the July event.

Lyles may also be looking at Paris as a lead-up to the two biggest international meets of the year — a Diamond League final in Brussels on Sept. 6 and the world championships in Doha three weeks later.

Here are the Paris entry lists. Here’s the schedule of events (all times Eastern):

12:02 p.m. — Men’s Shot Put
12:35 — Women’s Triple Jump
1:17 — Women’s Discus
1:40 — Women’s Pole Vault
2:03 — Men’s 400m Hurdles
2:09 — Men’s High Jump
2:14 — Men’s 800m
2:24 — Women’s 100m
2:32 — Men’s Triple Jump
2:35 — Men’s 1500m
2:48 — Women’s 400m
2:57 — Men’s 200m
3:06 — Women’s 800m
3:29 — Men’s 3000m Steeplechase
3:50 — Men’s 110m Hurdles

Here are five events to watch:

Women’s Pole Vault — 1:40 p.m. ET
All six women who have cleared 4.80 meters this season are here, topped by world leader and London Olympic champion Jenn Suhr. But Suhr hasn’t won a top-level meet outside the U.S. since 2012. Watch out for Rio Olympic and world champ Katerina Stefanidi, the Greek who beat Suhr in Birmingham, Great Britain, last Sunday. And Olympic and world silver medalist Sandi Morris at her first Diamond League in two months.

Women’s 100m — 2:24 p.m. ET
Olympic champ Elaine Thompson takes her No. 1 world ranking into her first Diamond League 100m in two and a half months. Thompson rebounded from a blemished 2018 to win June’s Jamaican Championships in 10.73 seconds, cementing herself as the world championships favorite. Three other women in this field have a personal best in the 10.8s, including 2018 U.S. champion Aleia HobbsTeahna Daniels, the surprise 2019 U.S. champ, is coming off a third-place, 11.24 finish in Birmingham against a largely unaccomplished field.

Men’s Triple Jump — 2:32 p.m. ET
Americans Christian Taylor and Will Claye go head-to-head for the 48th time in this event, according to Tilastopaja.org. Taylor, who owns five combined Olympic and world titles, has a 25-22 edge and hasn’t lost to his countryman on the Diamond League level in five years. But Claye, who owns five combined Olympic and world medals (but no gold), ranks No. 1 in the world this year with his personal-best 18.14-meter mark from June 29. The winner here is likely the favorite for worlds.

Men’s 200m — 2:57 p.m. ET
Lyles has never lost to anyone in this field in senior competition. In fact, only one man has beaten him in a 200m in the last three years, countryman Michael Norman, who is focusing on the 400m this summer. Last year, Lyles made a statement by breaking 19.8 in the 200m on four separate occasions, something only Usain Bolt had previously done. Lyles is at three sub-19.8s so far this season with at least three meets left.

Men’s 110m Hurdles — 3:50 p.m. ET
Grant Holloway
, the only man to break 13 seconds this year, makes his Diamond League debut after turning professional following his junior season at Florida. He takes on the second- and third-fastest men this year, including former NCAA rival Daniel Roberts, who upset Holloway at the USATF Outdoor Championships.

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