Freestyle skier Gus Kenworthy is targeting success for Great Britain ©GB Snowsport

Freestyle skier Gus Kenworthy is targeting success for Great Britain at the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games after switching allegiance from the United States.

Kenworthy, the men's slopestyle silver medallist at the Sochi 2014 Olympics, requested his release from US Ski and Snowboard to compete for GB Snowsport earlier this month.

The 28-year-old holds a UK passport and qualifies to compete for GB Snowsport having been born in Chelmsford, Essex, and he also has a British-born mother.

GB Snowsport accepted the approach from Kenworthy and his team following discussions where the athlete is said to have personally demonstrated his ambition to compete at the highest possible level to earn a place at Beijing 2022.

The International Ski Federation has now approved the application submitted by Kenworthy to compete for GB Snowsport with immediate effect.

"This is a great opportunity for me to start again and compete in three events in 2022," Kenworthy, who also competed for the US at Pyeongchang 2018, said.

"I have strong roots in the UK and have been close with many of the athletes.

"For me, this is an incredible opportunity to join a first-class team and I believe we will be able to deliver great results.

"I am also doing this for my mother, who was born and lived in the UK for much of her life - she has always been my greatest supporter throughout my career.

"She taught me to ski when I was three years old and is the reason I compete today.

"It's great to now be representing GB - a country which means so much to me and my family.

"During my downtime, it was important for me to take a step back and contemplate my next move and now that is resolved, I am looking forward to training and getting in condition for the upcoming season."

Gus Kenworthy won the men's slopestyle silver medal at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Games ©Getty Images
Gus Kenworthy won the men's slopestyle silver medal at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Games ©Getty Images

Vicky Gosling, chief executive of GB Snowsport, added: "When a world-renowned athlete like Gus makes himself available to compete for GB Snowsport it is really exciting, but we wanted assurances around Gus' desire as his life outside snowsport has become much busier.

"We have met with Gus numerous times and found that we are completely on the same page.

"Gus understands that we have an incredibly talented squad and that means places are competitive.

"It is incredibly exciting to have him in our ranks and I think it goes to show the level that GB Snowsport has reached in a short space of time.

"The inclusion of Gus in our squad can only raise our level of performance and make us even more competitive."

Kenworthy, who came out as gay in October 2015, said he hoped to be an inspiration to the next generation of LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender or Questioning) athletes with dreams of Olympic glory.

"It's not easy to come out - it's quite scary - and I think, because there is a lack of people that have done it, that makes it even more scary," he was reported as saying by Reuters.

"There certainly is a stigma that surrounds it and, if you're in a team sport, then there's a fear that you are going to mess up the team dynamic, and that things are going to change or shift, and you don't want to be responsible for that.

"If you're in an individual sport, you're worried about losing endorsement deals or being judged poorly, so all those fears are valid unfortunately.

"But once you do come out and take that leap of faith, people will tell you that it's very liberating, that it's very freeing and usually you perform better."

Kenworthy is set to return to training this month and aims to compete in the X Games in Aspen, Colorado, from January 23 to 26.

He will immediately start working closely with the GB Snowsport high-performance team.