FORT WORTH, Texas — It is less than a year away from the 2022 Winter Olympics, and three figure skating Olympic hopefuls are putting in their training time in North Texas.
USA Team members Amber Glenn, of Plano, and pairs team Timothy LeDuc and Ashley Cain-Gribble, of Carrolton, spend almost six days a week training for their craft.
LeDuc and Cain-Gribble have been a skating pair for six years.
"Sometimes it feels like we've been skating together for forever," said Cain-Gribble.
LeDuc and Cain-Gribble were 2019 national champions.
Glenn was a silver medalist in the 2021 national championships. Any athlete who has accomplished anything has been through their share of ups and downs, and Glenn is no exception. Several years ago she actually left figure skating.
"I wasn't skating because I loved it. I was doing it, because that's all I knew," said Glenn.
But there is a lot more to these Team USA athletes than what they beautifully produce on the ice.
"I'm Timothy's biggest supporter, and I'm Amber's biggest supporter, and I always will be," said Cain-Gribble.
Unlike gravity, some constructs are not so easily defined, like sexual identity and affinity.
Glenn does not like labels but identifies as pansexual. The textbook definition for pansexual is "not limited in sexual choice with regard to biological sex, gender, or gender identity."
"I like a person for who they are...and if I get along with them," said Glenn.
LeDuc identifies as queer. And yes, pride month to him is a celebration but so much more.
"Pride is a protest. It started as a protest in the 60s," said LeDuc.
Both are openly LGBTQ athletes in an arena where pressures to perform and conform are real.
"[I want people to know] really that a champion of the sport can be a queer person, that a champion of a sport doesn't have to change something about themselves in order to be at the top," said LeDuc.
But being out opens them up to critical judges, even the misconception that being LGBTQ somehow means being weak. And weak is not even remotely a description that anyone would assign to this trio.
LeDuc and Glenn told WFAA that very few figure skating athletes still competing take that step of announcing their sexuality or affinity.
"After I came out, I felt so much more free. I was able to be free," said Glenn.
And for Glenn, that freedom and that weight off her shoulders helped her land the triple axle during the pandemic. It helped the pairs team draw even closer.
Both Team USA athletes told WFAA there has been a lot more support than scorn.
"Yes, we can celebrate during Pride Month, but the work isn't done," said LeDuc.