Staying true to himself through the “noise”
As Andrew Blaser prepared for his first Olympics in 2022, he knew he had a platform to represent the LGBTQ+ community on the world’s biggest stage. The Team USA Skeleton athlete has dealt with the trials and tribulations elite athletes face, helping him develop trust and tenacity along with learning how to cope with anxiety and fears.
Blaser could be seen with a rainbow-taped saddle on his sled in Beijing that year, not as a political statement, but as a personal keepsake to hold onto during a daunting moment.
“I had this tape that my teammates had purchased for me and I remember thinking that it was bright and happy and fun and would remind me that I hadn’t lost myself in all of the ‘noise’ going into the Olympics,” Blaser said.
Andrew Blaser is a big believer in agency and autonomy, two attributes that allow him to accept his differences and fully enjoy his inalienable rights.
The Boise, Idaho native grew up playing multiple sports from football, basketball, and track and field to cheerleading and ballet, where he excelled at each. Being a member of the LGBTQ+ community is only one aspect of Blaser’s world-class career in sport thus far. However, his position as an athlete has given him a voice to help promote a sense of camaraderie for all.
“I believe that Pride is about supporting each other and forming a community that feels safe,” Blaser said. “Everyone should have the right to feel safe and everyone should have the right to feel seen as they truly are.”
He could not have reached this point without the “teachers” in his life, though.
A supportive family of parents and siblings reminds Blaser that he is “capable of anything that [he] chooses to be capable of,” while friends have “literally walked around with [his] face on their shirts.”
The Olympic lifestyle is not for everyone, and various jobs held onto Blaser’s position for weeks at a time as he trained and competed. Meanwhile, coaches like Bryan Stith, Yogi Teevens, Wayne Phipps, and Brandon Siakel have allowed him to grow as a competitor.
He even had a friend who donated $15,000 dollars to his sliding while also providing a shoulder to cry on.
“I can’t even count the number of people who have helped me and loved me on this journey both in coming out and in sport,” Blaser said.
This support system is part of the reason Blaser gives back today. Pride is not just a one-month thing or a parade, but a daily acceptance of others.
“Supporting your LGBTQ+ friends and family should be an everyday stance,” Blaser said. “I think we have the ability to educate and to influence people to form more positive thoughts daily.”
“I just come from a sports background and I think that just being able to tell our stories in a public space is a great opportunity to self-educate and to develop questions and to learn,” Blaser said.
As Blaser and Team USA train for their next Olympics, the marriage between art and athletics remains a pivotal key to the Skeleton athlete’s success. Ballet events, high school meets, conference championships, and North American cups were all moments that helped Blaser find confidence in his abilities.
Yet it is the people he continues to touch inside and outside of sport that has made Andrew Blaser an important figure in the fight for equality.
“I would like to see it highlighted how far we are from equality,” he said. “Equality doesn’t happen just by passing a law that allows LGBTQ+ individuals to marry but it happens when we are seen as less than in the eyes of the general public or the politicians who are working against our right to exist freely.”
As Andrew Blaser heads down his next frozen track, he slides with ultimate freedom, confidence, and awareness. With eyes on the world-class athlete, he hopes freedom can exist in all facets of life, helping those who are different truly learn to love themselves.