On February 11, Austrian Daniela Iraschko-Stolz came in second in the women’s ski jump competition, making her the first openly gay athlete in the Games to be awarded a medal; the 2014 Games are also the first time the women’s ski jump has ever been an Olympic event.
Iraschko-Stolz’s second jump in the finals was actually the furthest, at 104.5 meters (343 feet), but German skier Carina Vogt was awarded the gold after scores were adjusted to accommodate for wind speed advantage.
The first member of the LGBT community to win a medal was Ireen Wüst, a bisexual Dutch speedskater who took first place in her event.
After arriving in Russia, Iraschko-Stolz said she thought concerns about the country’s anti-gay laws were “exaggerated,” according to Gay Star News. She told press, “I think everything is being blown up bigger than it is. I had a very good welcome like every other athlete. There were absolutely no problems,” and added that she wanted to focus on athletics.
When asked if she would make a protest, she said, “Nobody cares if I make a protest or if I don’t jump here, because I’m not the most important person in the world. Nobody cares if I jump.”
Her home country of Austria has had registered partnerships for same-sex since 2010, and Iraschko-Stolz married her girlfriend in 2013; Stolz is her partner’s last name.
The silver-medal winner told press she hoped her victory could add positively to the discussion around Russia: “Many people maybe knew my name and also knew that I am married with a woman. And now the Olympic Games are here in Russia and they will end here in Russia.
“I hope for the future that the people now can see the sport as a chance to change something. That would be nice. Because everyone looks at Russia and its laws, and I think it’s a good idea to change something.”
Iraschko-Stolz’s victory makes her the second out of seven openly LGBT Olympians to reach the winners’ podium.