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Caitlin Cahow discusses being part of U.S. delegation to Sochi (video)

Dec 19, 2013, 9:47 AM EDT

Caitlin Cahow, one of two openly gay athletes part of the White House’s delegation to the Sochi Olympics, said she’s proud to be representing American diversity in Russia.

“I think that the president’s been very open about his feelings about Russian policies,” Cahow said on TODAY on Thursday morning. “I think he’s been very open about his feelings about LGBT policies here at home, too. I’m going over to Sochi representing a country that has made the most dramatic shifts on some of these issues in the last few years, and I’m very proud to be representing that kind of diversity.”

Cahow, 28, won bronze and silver at the 2006 and 2010 Olympics as a defenseman on the U.S. women’s hockey team but was not in the running to make the 2014 Olympic Team.

She joined tennis legend Billie Jean King and Olympic legends Bonnie BlairBrian Boitano and Eric Heiden on the delegation announced Tuesday. 

“I had a member of the White House call me, and that was kind of a surprise to get on my cell phone an unknown number,” Cahow said. “So I answered it, and I heard the news. I was elated. I was thrilled.”

In June, a law was passed in Russia banning the promotion of non-traditional sexual relations toward minors. Cahow said there are a lot of issues she looks to stand for while in Sochi.

In the interview, Matt Lauer brought up the black-power salute by John Carlos and Tommie Smith at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics.

“Honestly, I think that my John Carlos moment right now is going to Russia and being present and representing the United States,” she said. “Like I said before, this delegation represents so much more than just LGBT diversity. We have a really remarkable diversity in the United States. I think that’s what all of the athletes in Sochi and the delegation will be demonstrating.”

Cahow, a Harvard graduate, said she believes the Olympics and politics will always be intertwined.

“It’s really hard to divorce the two,” she said. “What I would say is that the great thing about the Olympics is that every two years we get the opportunity not only to be inspired by amazing human achievement, but to hold the mirror up to our own faces and say what can we be doing better?”

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