Blake Skjellerup | Gay Stories | Olympics | Sochi Olympics | Sports

Out Speed Skater Blake Skjellerup Launches Crowdfunding Campaign To Attend Winter Olympics In Sochi: VIDEO


Previously, out speed skater Blake Skjellerup announced that he would wear a rainbow pin to the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, despite being threatened with penalties by the IOC and Russian government. Unfortunately for him, though, that means actually qualifying for the Olympics, which is much easier said than done for an unfortunately large number of Olympians. Those not fortunate enough to make their way with sponsorships must pay certain costs out of pocket, such as travel, lodging, food, and so on, not to mention the everyday costs of actual training. When asked by Out magazine what it takes financially to get to the Olympics, Skjellerup replied, "bankruptcy". 

Blake SkjellerupThat's why he has taken to Indiegogo to crowdfund his quest to qualify for Sochi. According to the campaign's official page:

"For Blake to qualify for the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, he will need to finish in the top 32 at the World Cups this autumn. These four key events are:

Sept. 26-29, Shanghai, China

Oct. 3-6, Seoul, South Korea

Nov. 7-10, Torino, Italy

Nov. 14-17, Kolomna, Russia"

At a minimum, this means coming up with a minimum of $15,000, which the campaign has luckily already raised. In actuality, however, costs for these events will likely be closer to $33,000, which the campaign has still yet to raise. If you're curious as to why costs for competing are that high, the page breaks down precisely where all that money goes:

  • "Travel for Blake, his coach and his physio therapist to all four World Cup events. Without our support, he will travel alone -- in places like China and Russia -- and will not have his coach or physio therapist at any of these crucial World Cup events. Having his support structure with him at these competitions is critical to his success."
  • "His physio therapist with him for the two weeks leading up to the final two World Cup events. Without our support, he has no physio therapist preparing him for the two races that specifically determine whether he qualifies for the Olympic Games."
  • "Accommodations closer to the training center in the two weeks before the qualifiers and before the Olympic Games. To cut costs, Blake lives over an hour away from the training center and must take the train every day. Our support will allow him to save over two hours of travel each day before the qualifiers and the Olympic Games and let him focus exclusively on his training."

The campaign has already received support from organizations such as You Can Play project, Outsports, It Gets Better Project, GLAAD, Athlete Ally, Pride House International, Here Media, and the NOH8 campaign. Perks for the Indiegogo campaign include personal thank yous, personal and/or signed photos, private Skype chats, and corporate sponsorship status. 

Watch Blake himself tell you his story and about his Olympic aspirations AFTER THE JUMP.

You can view the Indiegogo campaign and donate HERE



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  1. I hope he raises the funds and qualifies! It'd be awesome knowing that a least one person is sure to take a stand at the Olympics this year.

    Posted by: JMC | Aug 29, 2013 10:36:59 PM

  2. Did you know that most of those US companies people want us to boycott because they are Olympic sponsors also sponsor the US Olympic Committee (USOC)? Roughly 29% of USOC revenue comes from sponsors like Coca-Cola and McDonalds.

    So, if Blake does make the Olympic Team, Coca-Cola will be one of the companies that will help pay his travel expenses. That's just another reason why boycotting sponsors make little sense.

    Posted by: mburke | Aug 29, 2013 11:29:44 PM

  3. I hope he makes the qualifying. If he doesn't raise the money, maybe Colbert will help the speed skaters out again

    Posted by: Michael | Aug 29, 2013 11:51:19 PM

  4. But boycotts FEEL good.

    Posted by: Jumpin jesus on a pogo stick | Aug 29, 2013 11:51:47 PM

  5. @mburke: companies donating to the U.S. Olympic Committee won't help him unless they donate to the commitees for other countries as well - a prominent maple leaf on a wall suggested that he's possibly Canadian (plus his pronunciation of various English words).

    Posted by: Bill | Aug 30, 2013 12:29:42 AM

  6. To redeem themselves all the American commercial sponsors could EASILY fund every openly gay athlete. That would certainly show their support of the gay community, their own commitment to equality and their presence and support of the Olympics would be more readily accepted. As it stands now Blake will probably not be allowed to participate as long as he wears the pin or speaks out in support of gay people and the desire for a medal will overshadow his desire to wear any gay pin - that and the IOC's threat to evict him from participating will result in the pin's disappearance.

    As far as I'm concerned I'm boycotting the Olympics.

    Posted by: Mike Ryan | Aug 30, 2013 1:41:53 AM

  7. Blake competes for New Zealand (that explains his accent, etc.) but trains in Calgary, Alberta (that explains the prominent Maple Leaf in the video).

    It seems odd that these facts were left out of the story.

    And why did some comment writers speculate without doing a simple fact check?

    Posted by: Ray K | Aug 30, 2013 2:33:31 AM

  8. One SeanCody video would cover the whole campaign.

    Posted by: crispy | Aug 30, 2013 6:28:59 AM

  9. Wait, was he going to skip the Olympics before?

    Posted by: Fenrox | Aug 30, 2013 9:29:36 AM

  10. LCR's; I hate LGBTs trying to tell private companies whom they can and cannot discriminate against. Russia AND Coca-Cola have Rights too!

    All Other Gays; Human Rights trump corporate profits.

    What's wrong with this picture?

    If you said Self-Loathing Republicans - You Win!

    Posted by: dean | Aug 30, 2013 9:31:40 AM

  11. It is unlikely for him to qualify. Since the Vancouver games, he ranked outside the top 32 in about half of his major competitions.

    Posted by: Stephen | Aug 30, 2013 10:27:17 AM

  12. @Ray K: "possibly Canadian" does not mean definitely Canadian, and there was no reason to look into it further given that the point was that contributions to the U.S. Olympic Committee by corporate sponsors did not seem relevant.

    Posted by: Bill | Aug 30, 2013 1:40:28 PM

  13. I admit that I made the assumption that a story on an athlete on a US-based site would be a US athlete. That the guy is from New Zealand is a pretty huge fact that should have been in the text.

    Regardless, my point wasn't about a single LGB athlete. It was to point out that boycotting an Olympic sponsor might hurt more than help. It certainly hurts the LGBT employees who work for Coke.

    FYI: Coca-Cola is listed as a corporate sponsor of the Canadian Olympic Team. New Zealand doesn't have a list of sponsors posted on their Olympic Committee website.

    Posted by: mburke | Aug 30, 2013 4:35:03 PM

  14. This cute young man should not have too much trouble raising money...and hey I'm willing to help!

    Posted by: jarago | Aug 30, 2013 5:39:20 PM

  15. Let's not overestimate the power of the LGBTI community, okay? Do you really think a boycott of corporate sponsors will put a dent in their profits deeper than a dust particle would cause? One of the noble reasons for boycotts is primarily to keep the egregious nature of wrongdoers in the media and make citizens worldwide aware of the atrocities committed, in this instance, by homophobe Putin, the oxymoronic "elected dictator" of Russia, and his equally homophobic rubber stamp Duma. When Cesar Chavez successfully ran his boycott of grapes because of slave-labor wages and living conditions in that industry, he also had the direct human connection and political influence with the actual people who were pivotal in getting grapes to the marketplace. No such power exists concerning the Hitlerian Putin Olympics. I certainly will try my best to boycott any sponsors of the Sochi Olympics of whom I am aware. So, the enacting of a boycott is essential and needs to flood the media outlets. But since it is highly unlikely that the corrupt International Olympic Committee cares about LGBTI rights or even our survival or existence more than it cherishes its Champaign and caviar, and given that the US Olympic Committee is a feckless head-nodder, we LGBTI folks and our straight allies should do all they can to support Olympic athletes who share our status and our beliefs. Once again, I'll point out that Tommy Hilfiger controls the uniform designs of the US Olympic team until 2020. He should find it incumbent upon himself to do justice to his worldwide LGBTI customer base and our straight allies to design uniforms that incorporate some form of Rainbow Flag colors. His company's website:

    Posted by: Thomas Cardellino | Aug 30, 2013 7:46:27 PM

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