DFW Pairs Skaters Breaking Barriers at 2022 Winter Olympics

Timothy LeDuc and partner performing. | Image from U.S. Figure Skating Fan Zone

Timothy LeDuc had no clue that as they watched the 2002 Olympics, twenty years later they would be making history at the same event.

As the first openly non-binary athlete, LeDuc became infatuated with figure skating at age twelve. They took lessons through the Learn To Skate program and placed seventh in the novice men’s category at the 2008 United States Championships.

After many successes in figure skating, it was announced on Saturday, January 8, that LeDuc will now compete at the 2022 Beijing Olympics with their partner, Ashley Cain-Gribble.

“My hope is that when people see my story, it isn’t focused on me and saying, ‘Oh, Timothy is the first out non-binary person to achieve this level of success in sport,'” LeDuc said during a news conference Saturday, according to NBC Sports.

The North Texas pairs skaters have been skating together for six years and, just as Timothy has something to prove, so does Ashley; at five-foot-six, she is taller than most female pairs figure skaters.

“She’s been a beacon for people of different body types to show them like, hey, you can still be successful at something even if you don’t fit the archetype of success you typically see,” LeDuc explained. 

LeDuc and Cain-Gribble believe they have reached their Olympic moment at just the right time. “I think we want to dedicate these performances and this title to all the people that felt like they didn’t belong — or were told that they didn’t belong — in this sport,” Cain-Gribble said during a news conference after winning Saturday’s U.S. Championship. “Many times we were told that, even when we teamed up.”

The pair, trained by Cain-Gribble’s father, former Australian pair skater Peter Cain in Euless, Texas, have experienced their ups and downs. Ashley suffered a concussion in 2018 after falling and landing on her head during a free-skate performance. She built herself up for the 2019 U.S. Championships, where the duo won their first U.S. Pairs title.

Last summer, LeDuc and Cain-Gribble contracted COVID-19, which jeopardized their preparations for the winter Olympics. Going into next month’s Olympic competition, Ashley and Timothy will be joined by Alexa Knierim and Brandon Frazier, who will also be representing the United States during the pairs skating competition.

You can watch Timothy LeDuc and Ashley Cain-Gribble as they represent North Texas and the United States at the 2022 Beijing Olympics, February 4 through 20.

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