Transcript for Team USA skier on returning to the Winter Olympics as an openly gay athlete
Reporter: That is olympian Gus Kenworthy shredding the slopes. And that, that's me. That was so lame. I'm just happy not to get hurt. I'm proud of you. Thank you. Reporter: Admittedly I've been off skis for nearly as long as he's been alive. Yeah! Reporter: Whoo. But he coached me through a couple of tricks that the aerial virtuoso was probably doing before he could walk. Do you ever feel fear? You're doing stuff that could easily kill you. Yeah, for sure. I think like anyone that does this sport, like any action sport really, that says they have no fear is either lying or they're like insane. Reporter: Gus's jumps typically catapult him 70 feet into the air, upside down, backwards. 1440. Gus Kenworthy's back. What! Reporter: But Gus's most courageous move arguably came off the slopes. You see, next month Gus Kenworthy will make history, Ming onef the first openly gay U.S. Male athletes to compete at the winter games. I feel like I'm representing the lgbt community and I want to do well for them. Will we see the triple for Kenworthy? He wants it! Reporter: We first met Gus as the babyfaced heartthrob who burst into our lives at the Sochi winter games in 2014 and that silver medal in slopestyle skiing. A score of 93.60 for Gus Kenworthy. Take me back to Sochi in 2014. What was that like for you? Like nothing I'd ever experienced before. I didn't really know what I was getting myself into. Reporter: And viral fame soon followed when he came back to the U.S. With more than just his silver medal. He helped rescue five furry friends. Some of the hundreds of stray dogs swarming Sochi. Tweeting "Puppy love is real to puppies." And with that the olympian seemed to steal the hearts of America. Things seemingly couldn't get better. But away from the bright lights, Gus says he was actively concealing his real life from the world. I was definitely forced to kind of compartmentalize all these different aspects of my life because I was considering coming out. Ultimately I don't think it would have been the right decision. Reporter: Just after the 2014 games he revealed his celebrity crush was Miley Cyrus. The olympics even tweeted to her, "Will you be my Valentine?" Cyrus tweeting back, "Hearts melt into 1,001 pieces." I was like I need to figure out what's going on in my life because I don't want to be lying in interviews anymore. I've known I was gay since I was 5 years old. Reporter: Much like his big airs Gus came out to the world in a big way. In this ESPN feature proclaiming it his next big move. Gus Kenworthy putting down the switch triple rodeo. For the longest time I thought I wasn't going to tell anybody. I was so scared of what people would think. I pictured myself like having my life skiing and then finishing my career, finishing skiing and being able to like move somewhere else and have my relationship openly and tell my family and everything. And I knew that that day would come. Reporter: But he also felt responsibility. I wanted to kind of come out and hopefully be a beacon of light for any kids who were the same as me when I was a kid because I didn't feel like I had anybody to look up to. Reporter: In an extreme sport fueled by testosterone and energy drinks it seemed a risk. Did you get any pushback? Yeah. Anything that wasn't good, the judging was bad, if something went wrong, it was gay. Fag would get thrown around. If anybody said anything like positive to me they'd have to be no homo after it. It was this homophobic atmosphere I sensed and thought I was going to be coming out into. And there was people who said nasty things for sure but overwhelmingly the majority was positive and supportive. Reporter: Now he's gracing magazine covers but coming out posed clear risks in his world of extreme sport. I was fearful I was going to lose sponsors, make myself less marketable for future sponsors, and it's been the complete opposite effect. Reporter: He won even more fame and fans and became even more attractive to sponsors. Like head & shoulders. My shoulders carry more than my country's pride. They carry my community's pride. Reporter: Gus took me to the place he felt most comfortable. On skis on the snow. A place I hadn't been to, again, since he was a toddler. This is a dream. Not everybody gets to ride on a lift with the greatest slopestyle skier in the world. Wow. That's a title I don't know if I'd give to myself but I appreciate it. Reporter: On the slopes he's a savant. Doing backwards what many of us can't do forwards. All of which make his accomplishments here on the slippery white stuff even more impressive. You've got a silver medal in Sochi, which is pretty darn good. But you were thinking about coming out like during the runs and during that whole period, this was sort of living in the back of your head? Kind of. I mean, ultimately, yeah. Ultimately it wasn't the time. I hadn't even told my mom I was gay. I hadn't told my dad, my brothers. It would have been like a shock to the world but it also would have just been a shock to my family and I think it would have then completely Overshown my medal and my skiing success. Reporter: Gus will be only the second openly gay U.S. Athlete in the upcoming winter games. A first ever for team usa. But if he wins this year, there will be no hiding his emotions this time. You said earlier that having a secret is one of the things that drove you. Now that you've unburdened yourself with it, do you still have the fire in the belly? I'm pushing myself to continue to prove myself, but I also am no longer ashamed of part of myself. Reporter: Back on the slopes he tries again to teach me the ropes. A little bit against the front of your boot. Me. Terrifying. Reporter: Mostly, th, I'm just trying not to get myself killed. For "Nightline" I'm Matt Gutman in nederland, Colorado. Next here, the formation of
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