Breezy Johnson Determined To Ski Fast, Encourage The LGBTQ Community And “Be Me”
by Brian Pinelli
Breezy Johnson celebrates during women's downhill at the 2022 FIS Alpine Ski World Cup on Dec. 18, 2021 in Val d'Isere, France.
U.S. ski racer Breezy Johnson recently revealed that she is bisexual, and having shared this news, is prepared to do her part, if necessary, for others in the LGBTQ community.
No matter what level of attention and interest her revelation generates, she says her immediate mission is to point her skis down the mountain, rebound from injury and maintain status as one of the world’s premiere female downhill racers.
Johnson spoke exclusively to Team USA about both her decision to reveal her bisexuality on Instagram, on Nov. 7, and her definitive goal to become the fastest female ski racer in the world.
“The reason why I wanted to share it was because growing up there weren’t people like me out there and the straight white ski racing world is large – I just wanted to show that people can be different and people can still be good,” Johnson said, during an interview from Copper Mountain, Colorado, where she has been training.
“It’s hard to complain about that one-dimensional aspect of skiing, without being part of the change. In sports, there is still not a lot of openness about this, especially in individual sports.”
The 26-year-old U.S. Ski Team athlete and 2018 Olympian from Jackson, Wyoming, noted that her announcement was no surprise to her teammates, as they were already aware.
Johnson says part of her motivation is to encourage fellow athletes and others in the LGBTQ community to not be afraid to come forward, a practice which she hopes becomes unnecessary.
“The people out there who are like ‘this shouldn’t matter’ are right, it shouldn’t, but we have to be open about it,” Johnson says. “Then kids growing up are like there are tons of people who are gay, trans and bisexual, and it’s not a big deal. That’s what I’m interested in.”
The world class ski racer is willing to stand up for, but not necessarily take on the enormous burden of being a leader of the social movement.
“There’s a lot of pressure as a poster child of that community and I don’t want that pressure. I just want to be me and focus on skiing.”
Johnson informs that support surrounding her decision to go public has been strong and that she has not directly received any negativity or backlash.
“It’s been positive – I think we’re lucky that it’s not ten years ago and things have changed a lot very quickly,” Johnson said. “People have been like ‘I really wanted to see someone like that in the sport and see more people who are different at the top,’ but nobody has been negative to my face.”
Retired ski racer Tina Weirather showed her support for Johnson and her wishes.
“I hope one day there’s no need to “come out” cause it’s 100% accepted and normal and doesn’t need a statement – love is love,” the three-time Olympian from Liechtenstein wrote on Instagram.
Johnson also emphasizes that she doesn’t want to be judged by her sexuality, or the decision to reveal her preference publicly, but rather by her accomplishments on the race hill.
“I’m not hiding or worried about what people are going to ask me in the finish about my boyfriend or what not, but I did get it out there because I wanted to get back to focusing on skiing,” Johnson says.
“Given everything, I don’t think this is going to be the magic bullet. I doubt people will notice a change in my skiing based on this.
“I would hope people credit my work ethic and my results, and not some announcement.”
Breezy Johnson competes during the women's downhill at the 2022 FIS Alpine Ski World Cup on Jan. 20, 2022 in Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy.
Despite Johnson’s past successes – seven world cup podium finishes over the past two seasons – returning to form could be a tough road. She is on the comeback trail, attempting to battle back to contending with the sport’s elite.
Last January in Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy, the courageous speed skier tore cartilage and subsequently required right knee surgery following a brutal training run crash. The untimely incident prevented Johnson from representing Team USA at what would have been her second Olympic Winter Games.
Still, Johnson exudes great confidence and says her offseason rehabilitation and recovery progressed well. She is excited for the season-opening speed races in Lake Louise, Canada, December 2-4.
“It was obviously a pretty extensive surgery, but I’m really happy with where I’m at, although I don’t think we’re there yet,” Johnson says. “I feel like my ability to perform is almost 100-percent, and I think we’ll be at 100-percent by Lake Louise.
“I’ve never had a perfect body going into the season, so I don’t expect that,” she says, alluding to her multiple knee injuries and other physical ailments across seven World Cup seasons. “It would be nice one day, but I have no idea what that Breezy is like.”
For the first time since her crash in Italy, Johnson kicked out of the start gate for races at Copper Mountain, Colorado, on Friday. The FIS-sanctioned super-G races encompassed a loaded field of top international competitors, as many are in the U.S. taking advantage of superb pre-season snow conditions at the high-altitude Colorado training center.
After “getting the jitters out” in the first of two races, Johnson laid down a highly encouraging sixth-place finish in the second, competing against a field of 43 racers. She was 0.66 seconds behind Austrian winner Cornelia Huetter.
“It was nice to get out there with all the girls and test things out,” the U.S. racer said. “Copper is kind of its own micro-organism, so you try not to take too much out of it into the World Cup season. Just trying to keep working on skiing well and moving in the right direction.”
Sights set on Lake Louise
The U.S. Alpine Team racer has charged to seven top-three podium finishes over the past two seasons; however, she has yet to attain an elusive first victory. Johnson couldn’t ask for a better venue to launch her comeback than Lake Louise. Last December, she notched a pair of second place downhill finishes there. Only Italian Olympic champion Sofia Goggia was faster.
“As Lindsey (Vonn) proved, Lake Louise belongs to the Americans, so hopefully we can annex it,” Johnson jokes. “I love racing, so I’m just excited to get back out there.”
In addition to Johnson’s current comeback, she has persevered through an injury-riddled athletic career. She first dealt with injury in 2018, tearing her right ACL. After missing all of 2019, she then tore her left PCL, MCL and joint capsule, resulting in another long recovery. Then it was the devastating crash in Cortina denying her Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 hopes.
Despite the numerous setbacks, Johnson possesses a no quit attitude and ambitions remain lofty. She aspires to stay injury-free and race to a season-long World Cup downhill title.
“For a long time, my goal has been to win the downhill title – it’s what I wanted as a kid, it’s what I’ve always wanted in my career,” Johnson says. “If you win the downhill title, there is no doubt from anybody who knows anything about ski racing, that you are the best downhill skier in the world. That is what I want to be.”