Olympian plans to save Sochi puppies

Posted at 4:15 PM, Feb 14, 2014
and last updated 2014-02-14 16:15:52-05

(CNN) – You may know about Gus Kenworthy by now, but not necessarily because of his athletic abilities.

The U.S. free skiing star made hearts explode when he recently posted pictures of himself cuddling with some stray puppies in Sochi.

According to his Twitter feed, he is going to try to bring them back when he returns from Russia to the United States, and he’s arranged kennels and vaccinations for the whole group.

His animal rescue efforts aren’t distracting him from the Olympics stuff, though. Kenworthy has already won silver in the men’s slopestyle skiing event.

As if that weren’t enough to cheer for, Kenworthy’s life has included some other notable moments.

Kenworthy was born in the United Kingdom, but spent the bulk of his life in Colorado. Because of his mother’s UK citizenship, Kenworthy could have chosen to go with Team GB for his first Olympic outing.

It would have been easier, too, with all of the dominant figures in U.S. freeskiing.

Instead, he chose to go the difficult route. Why?

Simple. “I grew up here,” he told Bleacher Report. “This is my country.”

Despite the fact that he was born in the United Kingdom, there’s something quintessentially All-American about Kenworthy’s story. He first gained recognition for his skill in a very modern way, after he posted an edited video of himself online.

He’s also gotten some attention for his ink: A large owl tattoo on his side, coupled with a forearm tattoo that reads “HOOT.”

The forearm tattoo is in memory of his best friend, who passed away when Kenworthy was 14. Since he was so young, his mother had to sign off on the ink, and Kenworthy even admitted that he didn’t really pay attention to the style or font. It was the message that was important.

“I’ve sort of tried to live out his legacy and be as best as I can for him,” he told Bleacher Report.

And the effort has gotten him far: with one medal already around his neck, Kenworthy will compete to qualify in the men’s ski half-pipe event on Tuesday.