Many Olympians did more than just compete for medals at the Winter Games in PyeongChang this year, and U.S. skier Gus Kenworthy and snowboarder Maddie Mastro are traveling home with new pets after they took a stand against animal cruelty.
Over the weekend, Kenworthy and his boyfriend Matthew Wilkas took a trip to a South Korean dog farm where dogs are raised to be slaughtered and sold for meat. In a lengthy Instagram post, Kentworthy wrote about how the dogs are living in “some of the most deplorable conditions imaginable.”
This morning Matt and I had a heart-wrenching visit to one of the 17,000 dog farms here in South Korea. Across the country there are 2.5 million dogs being raised for food in some of the most disturbing conditions imaginable. Yes, there is an argument to be made that eating dogs is a part of Korean culture. And, while don't personally agree with it, I do agree that it's not my place to impose western ideals on the people here. The way these animals are being treated, however, is completely inhumane and culture should never be a scapegoat for cruelty. I was told that the dogs on this particular farm were kept in "good conditions" by comparison to other farms. The dogs here are malnourished and physically abused, crammed into tiny wire-floored pens, and exposed to the freezing winter elements and scorching summer conditions. When it comes time to put one down it is done so in front of the other dogs by means of electrocution sometimes taking up to 20 agonizing minutes. Despite the beliefs of some, these dogs are no different from the ones we call pets back home. Some of them were even pets at one time and were stolen or found and sold into the dog meat trade. Luckily, this particular farm (thanks to the hard work of the Humane Society International and the cooperation of a farmer who's seen the error of his ways) is being permanently shut down and all 90 of the dogs here will be brought to the US and Canada where they'll find their fur-ever homes. I adopted the sweet baby in the first pic (we named her Beemo) and she'll be coming to the US to live with me as soon as she's through with her vaccinations in a short couple of weeks. I cannot wait to give her the best life possible! There are still millions of dogs here in need of help though (like the Great Pyrenees in the 2nd pic who was truly the sweetest dog ever). I'm hoping to use this visit as an opportunity to raise awareness to the inhumanity of the dog meat trade and the plight of dogs everywhere, including back home in the US where millions of dogs are in need of loving homes! Go to @hsiglobal's page to see how you can help. #dogsarefriendsnotfood #adoptdontshop ❤️????
“Yes, there is an argument to be made that eating dogs is a part of Korean culture. And, while don’t personally agree with it, I do agree that it’s not my place to impose western ideals on the people here,” Kenworthy wrote. “The way these animals are being treated, however, is completely inhumane and culture should never be a scapegoat for cruelty. … The dogs here are malnourished and physically abused, crammed into tiny wire-floored pens, and exposed to the freezing winter elements and scorching summer conditions. When it comes time to put one down it is done so in front of the other dogs by means of electrocution sometimes taking up to 20 agonizing minutes.”
As you can see from the photo, Kenworthy and Wilkas ended up adopting one of the dogs. They also helped to get the farm shut down with help from the Humane Society International, and all 90 of the dogs that were living at the farm are being sent to the U.S. and Canada. Mastro is also returning home with a new friend, though she told TMZ she already has three rescue dogs and will need to find a home for the dog she saved.
Kenworthy, who showed off his great sense of humor during the Olympics this month, is obviously passionate about animals. Neither he nor Mastro won a medal in PyeongChang, but they have to be feeling pretty good about what they accomplished.
Olympic skier Gus Kenworthy failed to take home a medal in the freestyle event over the weekend, but his experience in PyeongChang seems as though it was very fulfilling.
After he failed to match or improve upon the silver medal he won at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, Kenworthy was shown on NBC’s television coverage kissing his boyfriend, Matt Wilkas. Kenworthy didn’t realize the moment was televised until the following day, and he was glad that it was.
Kenworthy came out in a 2015 interview with ESPN, and he has been an inspiration to the LGBTQ community since. He and figure skater Adam Rippon became the first openly gay American athletes to participate in the Winter Olympics this year.
“That’s something that I wanted at the last Olympics – to share a kiss with my boyfriend at the bottom – and it was something that I was too scared to do for myself,” Kenworthy told Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports. “And so to be able to do that, to give him a kiss, to have that affection broadcasted for the world is incredible. I think that’s the only way to really change perceptions, break down homophobia, break down barriers is through representation. And that’s definitely not something I had as a kid. I definitely didn’t see a gay athlete at the Olympics kissing their boyfriend. And I think if I had, it would’ve made it a lot easier for me.”
Kenworthy also shared a message on social media thanking fans for their support.
Despite not winning a medal, Kenworthy was a big part of the Olympic coverage in South Korea. On lighter notes, he freaked out about a tweet he received from Britney Spears and took a funny shot at vice president Mike Pence after breaking his thumb. Overall, it would not be a surprise if Kenworthy felt like the 2018 Winter Games made a bigger impact on him than four years ago when he won a silver medal.
Gus Kenworthy received a tweet of support from Britney Spears on Saturday and completed lost his mind.
The popular singer sent the following tweet to Kenworthy, which references lyrics from her song, “Gimme More.”
Kenworthy saw the tweet Sunday in PyeongChang and freaked out.
Kenworthy will be competing in the slopestyle and looking to improve upon his silver medal finish in the event at Sochi in 2014. And at least this tweet of his did not include a jab at a White House official.
Olympic skier Gus Kenworthy is no fan of vice president Mike Pence.
In a tweet sent on Thursday, Kenworthy revealed that he broke his thumb the day before in practice but said that he was still very much planning to compete. He also joked that the injury would keep him from having to shake Pence’s hand.
Kenworthy, who is openly gay, is scheduled to compete in slopestyle skiing over the weekend. He also won silver in slopestyle at the 2014 Sochi Games.
Meanwhile, Pence, who is known for his anti-LGBT views, is in PyeongChang to support the United States teams. Kenworthy is not the only Olympian who has taken issue with the vice president at this year’s games either.
The 2018 Winter Olympic Games are underway, and it’s time to familiarize yourself with some U.S. athletes you need to root for. Here’s a look at 15 of the most important U.S. athletes competing at the Winter Games and what they hope (and many believe) they can accomplish.
15. Kelly Clark, snowboarder
34-year-old Kelly Clark is no stranger to Olympic competition, having competed in every single Winter Games since 2002. She won halfpipe gold in 2002 and then brought home bronze in the same event in both 2010 and 2014. Clark is also a one-time Winter Dew Tour gold medalist, one-time New Zealand Winter Games gold medalist ,and a five-time Winter X Games gold medalist. Her wealth of experience not only puts her ahead of the competition, but becomes exceptionally valuable for Team USA as a whole.
“It’s an incredible opportunity to represent my country to the rest of the world, to represent snowboarding and women, it’s been one of the greatest privileges of my life,” Clark told PEOPLE. “And it’s really fun as an athlete because you work four years for a 30-second halfpipe run, so you really get to see what you built. It’s really a rubber-meets-the-road type of situation.”
14. Bradie Tennell, figure skater
Though the Winter Olympics are sometimes looked at as the “little brother” of the Summer Games — there’s no basketball, track and field, or gymnastics! — the events always prove to be entertaining.
And though there’s one extra knock on the upcoming Pyeongchang Winter Games — NHL players won’t be competing — it’s all but certain Americans will still find themselves glued to the action. NBC’s coverage of the 2014 Sochi Games averaged 21.4 million viewers, which is a number comparable to the viewership of an early-round NFL playoff game or a much-hyped regular season game, an impressive feat considering the Games span 17 nights.
With the competitions based around less-heralded sports such as curling, speed-skating, and snowboarding, there are always a few breakout stars. In the 2014 Sochi Games (can you believe it’s been four years?), the U.S. had T.J. Oshie, Mikaela Shiffrin, and Sage Kotsenburg — not to mention the incredible commentary of Johnny Weir.
With this year’s Games less than one month away (they’ll run Feb. 9-25), we thought some of you could use a primer on a handful of the key United States athletes who will compete in South Korea. Here are 10 home-grown athletes who will likely dominate NBC’s coverage.
1. Lindsey Vonn, Skier