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Russian skating icon refuses to comment on ‘freaks’ as non-binary American star prepares for Olympics – RT Sport News

Alexander Zhulin reacted to announcement of the first non-binary figure skater to compete in the Olympics

Ice dance icon Alexander Zhulin said he was confused by some aspects of non-binary figure skater Timothy LeDuc’s participation in the Beijing Winter Olympics, although other Russians responded more positively to the American.

LeDuc is set to become the first openly non-binary athlete to compete in the Winter Games after being named to the U.S. figure skating team for next month’s sports show in China.

American star to become first non-binary winter Olympian

The 31-year-old will team up with partner Ashley Cain-Gribble in the figure skating pairs, and said the hope is that “The story is more oriented towards [the idea] that gay people can be open and successful in sports.

“We’ve always been here, we’ve always been part of the sport. We just haven’t always been able to be open ”, added LeDuc, who as a non-binary does not identify as male or female, and whose pronoun preferences are “they / them”.

The news was greeted with confusion by some prominent figures in Russia, including former world ice dance champion Zhulin.

“In which category will he perform – male or female?” In a relationship with a woman? He himself is like a man… and at the beginning he was a man, it turns out ”, Zhulin, 58, told Vseprosport in his homeland.

“How do I feel about this?” Oh, I don’t want to comment on these monsters, “ added the two-time Olympic medalist, who went on to become a leading trainer and TV personality in Russia after his retirement.

But Zhulin’s position was not matched by former Russian world and European figure skating champion Maria Butyrskaya.

Speaking to RT Russian, she said LeDuc may be paying special attention to figure skating.

“LeDuc’s story is trivial. Nonetheless, it’s probably good that he gave people a reason to discuss figure skating, even if it’s on that side ”, the 49-year-old said.

“Our sport is already popular, but let it get even more interesting because of this American.”

LeDuc, who is gay, is a two-time United States champion and was part of the U.S. team that won the ISU World Team Trophy in Japan in 2019.

LeDuc will make his Olympic debut alongside partner Cain-Gribble at the Beijing Games after winning the title as a couple in the US qualifying event in Nashville, Tennessee, earlier in January.

The Winter Games begin in Beijing on February 4 and run through February 20.

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