Makayla Gerken-Schofield Wants LGBTQ+ Voices To Be Heard At The Winter Olympics

The moguls skier will make her Olympic debut in Beijing this month.

by Sophie McEvoy
Originally Published: 

Having started skiing at the age of four, it was inevitable for Makayla Gerken-Schofield to set her sights on turning pro – and the Winter Olympics. Originally born in Chelmsford, Essex, by the age of six Gerken-Schofield and her family had packed up their lives and moved to the French Alps so she and her siblings could continue their love of the sport.

Eventually Gerken-Schofield joined the local Freestyle team when she was 11-years-old, and a year later she was competing professionally. Having completed her first World Championship at Sierra Nevada in 2017, the 22-year-old freestyle skier is about to make her Winter Olympic debut in Beijing, alongside her sister Leonie.

With Leonie at her side and their brother Thomas cheering on from the sidelines – he suffered a concussion last year – Gerken-Schofield is definitely going to be one to watch as she competes on the slopes.

Makayla Gerken-Schofield’s Current Team

Alongside her siblings, Gerken-Schofield is part of GB Snowsport’s World Cup Squad for Moguls. A type of freestyle skiing, the sport consists of a run down a “steep, heavily mogulled course stressing technical turns, aerial manoeuvers, and speed” as GB Snowsport explains. Moguls can be done solo or in a duo, with the latter involving two athletes skiing side by side.

Last season, the 22-year-old broke into the top-10 three times during the World Cup competitions, and has her sights set on making history at the Winter Olympics – both professionally and personally.

Makayla Gerken-Schofield’s Relationship Status

In 2020, Gerken-Schofield came out as pansexual which marked a significant change in her personal and sporting life. “I feel more free to be myself, and who I am as a person,” she told GB Snowsport. “It gave me a shift in skiing with my confidence, and I found I was having more fun with it.”

She regularly posts snaps with her girlfriend Oriane on social media, and wants to use the opportunity of being on the global stage to amplify LGBTQ+ voices. “Going to an Olympics gives me even more visibility, and it is important for young people out there, whether athletes or not, to have that person who could inspire them to be able to come out or get out those feelings that are buried inside,” Gerken-Schofield told PA Media (via The Independent).

And with athletes being warned by Beijing that they could face “certain punishments” for speaking out against sensitive issues, Gerken-Schofield remains unphased by these warnings. “We have to be careful and not going to an extreme, but I feel like everyone should be allowed to express themselves. Me being myself should not be not allowed,” she said.

Makayla Gerken-Schofield’s Social Media

The athlete may only be active on Instagram, but she loves to share adorable pics with her siblings as well as her skiing accomplishments. The photo sharing app is a place where Gerken-Schofield can embrace who she is, as well as openly chat with people about LGBTQ+ communities.

“It’s funny looking back because I was so nervous to post a picture of me with my girlfriend for the first time,” she explained to Sports Media LGBTQ+, adding that it was a “big deal” as she’d never shared something so personal online. “You always act in a way that you’re ‘this’ person but it wasn’t really me,” she continued. “Now I feel like I’m letting people know who I actually am.”

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