Kenworthy broke his thumb but will still compete at the Olympics
Freeskier Gus Kenworthy posted a picture of his shattered thumb on Twitter, but assured Team USA fans that he would still compete at the 2018 Winter Olympics.
The superstar Olympian is in Pyeongchang, South Korea, defending his silver medal win at the Sochi Winter Games in 2014. But the 26-year-old shocked fans by posting a pair of startling pictures to Twitter on Friday morning showing his broken right thumb in a cast. Fortunately, he calmed any fears that he wouldn’t be able to compete — and he took a jab at Mike Pence in the process by saying the injury would keep him from shaking the VP’s hand.
“Broke my thumb yesterday in practice,” he wrote. “It won’t stop me from competing (obvi) but it does prevent me from shaking Pence’s hand so… Silver linings! Will be giving my teammates (and literally everyone else) an enthusiastic ‘thumbs up!’ of encouragement the rest of the trip.”
Kenworthy, who came out as gay in 2015, is along with figure skater Adam Rippon one of the only openly gay athletes to represent Team USA in this Winter Olympics.
This weekend, Kenworthy again took to social media to announce another injury: He posted a series of videos to his Instagram story on Saturday explaining that he bruised his hip in a fall at practice on Friday, resulting in a hematoma that needed to be drained of blood.
Still, he is set to compete on Sunday (Saturday night stateside).
He and Rippon have recently made headlines for their criticism of the vice president and his views of the LGBTQ community, spurred on by Pence being selected to lead the United States’ delegation in South Korea. Soon after the annoucement, Kenworthy went on Ellen to call out the selection.
“To have someone leading the delegation that’s directly attacked the LGBT community … it just seems like a bad fit,” Kenworthy said, according to Yahoo News. “I feel like the Olympics is all about inclusion and people coming together, and it seems like it’s not really doing that.”
Rippon also drew attention to Pence when he turned down a chance to meet with him.
“You mean Mike Pence, the same Mike Pence that funded gay conversion therapy?” Rippon told USA Today. “I’m not buying it.” (A rep for Pence told PEOPLE at the time that the vice president does not and has never supported conversion therapy.)
Kenworthy posted a picture to Instagram on Feb. 9 of him and Rippon in South Korea, which included a slight directed at Pence.
“I feel incredibly honored to be here in Korea competing for the US and I’m so proud to be representing the LGBTQ community alongside this amazing guy!” he wrote. “Eat your heart out, Pence.”
Kenworthy told PEOPLE last fall that he feels the pressure from wanting to succeed for the LGBT community in competitions such as the Olympics — and, in turns, it helps him.
“I have the LGBT audience behind me and there’s all these people that I want to make proud, and I want to do well aside from just myself. And so I feel like I’ve got a little bit more on my shoulders,” Kenworthy said. “But I also think that I do well under pressure, so I’m hoping that that is a good thing for me.”
The 2018 Winter Olympics are airing live on NBC. To learn more, visit teamusa.org.