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September 21, 2017

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Skiing legend Paerson comes out as lesbian

STOCKHOLM -- Swedish alpine skiing star Anja Paerson ended years of rumors Saturday when she revealed she had a long-term girlfriend, Filippa, and that the couple was expecting a baby.

"I am tired of being someone else and of playing a game. I owe it to myself and especially to Filippa to tell the truth," Paerson said while hosting a program on Swedish public radio.

The 31-year-old Olympic champion, who ended her career and retired following the World Cup earlier this year in Schladming, Austria, has for years faced rumors about her personal life.

"The time of rumors is now over," she said during the pre-recorded nearly 90-minute program.

Paersson told listeners she had never thought she would fall in love with a woman, but that after she met Filippa, 39, in 2005 their friendship had gradually developed into something more.

"I had never intended to fall in love with a woman. Never thought that my heart could beat so fast for a woman. I was insanely in love," she said.

She wrapped up the program with another surprise announcement, admitting she had lied in interviews after her retirement when she told reporters she did not know what she would do going forward.

"I have known for almost nine months what I will do in the future. I am going to be a mother," she said.

Paerson, who made her debut in 1988 at the World Cup in Switzerland, took 19 championship medals, 42 World Cup victories, and two overall World Cup titles in 2004 and 2005.

She also won six Olympic medals — slalom gold at the 2006 Turin Games, a giant slalom silver in the 2002 Salt Lake City Games, and four bronzes (slalom in 2002, combined and downhill in 2006, and super-combined in 2010).

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