'The Most Wonderful Thing Ever': Gus Kenworthy Gets Bullish on Pet Adoption

by Steve Duffy

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Monday August 23, 2021

In addition to being an Olympian and out social media influencer, Gus Kenworthy is a passionate advocate against animal cruelty and a champion of raising awareness for adopting shelter pets. To that end, he is participating in teaming with the web sites Autotrader and Adopt-a-Pet.com to celebrate National Dog Day on August 26. They are doing so with the creation of a 2022 calendar, available at dogtrader.com. For more information on the calendar, visit this link. At that link dog lovers everywhere can also enter for the chance to win one of the the calendars.

The calendar comes in conjunction with Autotrader's list annual list of the "Best Cars for Dog Lovers of 2021," featuring a carefully selected collection of the best new cars in terms of safety, durability and comfort for pet lovers and their furry family members.

The 29-year-old Kenworthy won a silver medal for Team USA in slopestyle back in 2014. Next February he will be competing with the British team at the Winter Games if he qualifies. (Kenworthy's mom is British and he has dual citizenship.)

Initially Kenworthy wasn't planning on returning to the Olympics, but after a disappointing performance at the 2018 winter games in South Korea due to an injury. "I probably wouldn't have been trying to go for a third Olympics, but because I didn't have that performance, it fueled something in me. And I was like, 'Okay, now I've got more in the tank.' So I'm giving it my all," he told People magazine.

Kenworthy spoke to EDGE about his dedication to the cause of pet adoption, his issues with separation anxiety being away from his dogs, his acting career, and his recent trip to Tokyo for the Olympic Games.

EDGE: Why was it important for you to partner with Autotrader's Adopt-a-Pet?

Gus Kenworthy: I am a big proponent of pet adoption in general. Overall, I think it is a wonderful thing to adopt a pet and to give a pet a forever home. I think it is amazing that Autotrader is doing their part and using their interface to help more animals find forever homes.

EDGE: Tell us about Birdie.

Gus Kenworthy: Birdie is the absolute best! She is truly a human and a dog. When she looks at you and you make eye contact, she just connects in a way that I have never ever experienced. She is very sweet and incredibly soft. I just love her to death.

EDGE: How do you deals with puppy separation anxiety when you're traveling or training?

Gus Kenworthy: It is hard. I definitely miss the dogs a lot. They spend a lot of time with my partner when I am gone. It weighs heavy on me, but then it makes the time when you are back home even more special. I feel like I give them more attention and I want to do more with them when I do get home.

EDGE: You and Birdie will grace the cover of the 2022 Dog Calendar (Calen-Dog). How much fun was it to do a photo shoot with Birdie?

Gus Kenworthy: It is always fun to take photos with Birdie. She always makes me look worse by comparison. It was a lot of fun and I am very excited for the calendar and to be on the cover. It is also amazing that there will be other dog influencers on it too. More importantly, there will be dogs featured who are available for adoption.

EDGE: For anyone considering pet adoption, what tips would you give them?

Gus Kenworthy: My initial reaction is to say, "do it, get it." It is also important to make sure you have the means and the time to adopt a dog, because it is a huge undertaking. So, if you think that you are able to do it then I would encourage you to because the connection you get with a pet is the most wonderful thing ever.

EDGE: Your first acting role was on "American Horror Story: 1984." What does acting give you that skiing doesn't?

Gus Kenworthy: The difference is with acting I am a novice and just getting into it, but I am trying to get better. I started taking acting class, but I am really just starting at the bottom of the totem pole in terms of experience. With skiing, I have been doing it my entire life and it has become second nature. In one thing, I am a total veteran and that comes with a lot of confidence and with acting I still feel trepidation and nervous. Auditioning for parts makes me really nervous, but it is something that I definitely want to do more of.

EDGE: With the 2022 Olympics being your last, do you do anything different when it comes to your training regimen?

Gus Kenworthy: I don't think that my training has changed, but my attitude towards it and the place that I am trying to get in my own head has changed a little bit. There is something freeing and liberating about knowing that it is the end. The last Olympics I had considered it being my last had I gotten a medal it likely would have been. I had this feeling that you are only as good as your last performance, but I don't believe to be true but that was something that was echoing in my head and that made it hard to walk about. There is something freeing about knowing that this one is the last one for me no matter what. I am just focusing on my performance and hopefully land the run that I am really proud of. It definitely does take some of the pressure off.

EDGE: Where do you keep all your medals?

Gus Kenworthy: I keep my Olympic medal in a little case that is full of oddities that I love and have collected over the years. My X-Games medals I keep in my office and a few others I have donated back to my high school.

EDGE: As an out Olympian, you have been given a powerful platform. Moving forward, how do you continue to use it?

Gus Kenworthy: I am going to continue trying to do what I have done — lead by example and live my truth out loud and proud. I think completing as an out Olympian on the world stage does a lot in terms of representation and visibility. It is definitely an area where historically there has not been a lot of representation for Queer people. I will also live my truth on social media or in any job that I have moving forward and be proud of who I am and help others do the same.

EDGE: What's next for you?

Gus Kenworthy: That is the million-dollar question, I wish I knew the answer. I hope to continue acting and do some hosting.

For more on Adopt-a-pet and to purchase a calendar, follow this link.