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Adam Rippon’s last Olympics showing was in 2010 as an alternate for Team USA in Vancouver. But the 28-year-old figure skater is headed for the world stage again as he competes for a spot on Team USA's lineup for the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Games, and he’s bringing the heat onto the ice. (Not enough to actually melt the ice, you know, because that would be a mess - but his performances are on fire!) Read on to learn more about the talented skater who’s ready for his Olympics star turn.
1. Adam is the oldest of six siblings (brothers Tyler, Brady, Sawyer and sisters Dagny and Jordan round out the Rippon bunch), born and raised in Scranton, Pennsylvania. And yes, he’s heard every The Office joke you might be thinking up right now.
2. He was born almost completely deaf, and with a severe eye infection. With surgery, both ailments were corrected before he turned one years old.
3. He came out as gay in October 2015. In a 2017 Pride Month interview with Team USA’s blog, Adam shared, “Being gay isn’t what defines me, but it’s a big part of who I am and I like to talk about my coming out because that’s when I started to own who I was as a person.”
“That’s what’s important, not the being gay part but at some point - gay or straight - you need to own who you are. You can’t be afraid of who you are or else you’re afraid of your own potential, and if you don’t own who you are then you can’t grow.”
4. Adam has been skating since he was 9 (a late start compared to many of his Team USA peers), and still holds records from his junior skating career. Specifically, he’s still the only man to win back-to-back World Junior titles, in 2008 and then again in 2009.
5. But he considered giving up the sport after failing to make Team USA's figure skating roster for the 2014 Games in Sochi. In a 2015 speech, Adam recalled:
"The U.S. Championships in 2014 was the worst competitive experience of my life. I felt that I had worked my entire life for the opportunity to qualify for the Olympics and here I was. Four years after I had vowed that I would be on the team, I wasn’t going and was embarrassed about my performances. I remember turning to [coach Rafael Arutyunyan] in the kiss and cry after my long program and knowing I blew it. I cried the next three days straight. The most important competition of my life had just happened and I was now watching so many of my friends getting ready to go to the Olympics and the realization hit me; I wasn’t going with them.
All I had ever wanted was to be an Olympian, and because I wasn’t going, I felt like a failure. I felt like all the long hours my mom had driven me in the car were for nothing. I felt like all the hours on the ice were for nothing. I felt like all the sacrifices my family, friends, and coaches had made were all in vain. At this point, I was done. I wanted nothing to do with skating anymore. But the funny thing was, the more I tried to push skating away, the more I realized it became my therapy."
6. And so after a year or so, Adam bounced back. His (recent) breakout moment was winning the 2016 U.S. Championships - among other things, the win proved his Olympic dreams were far from over. Afterward, he shared, “You can’t kill me. I keep coming back every year, and every year I get better.” That same year, Adam placed sixth overall at the World Championships.
7. He has a signature skate move, the “Rippon Lutz.” Adam claims he thought of the move - a Lutz with both arms raised above the head - after watching 1988 Olympic Champion Brian Boitano doing a one-armed Lutz. If you’re having trouble visualizing it, watch it in action below:
8. And here's how he describes a day of training at the rink, in four steps: "1. Wake up, 2. Stretch, 3. Kick ass, 4. Take Names."
9. Adam is best friends with Olympic medalist Ashley Wagner, another member of Team USA. Together, they’ve mastered the power BFF photo opp:
10. And, like his friend Mirai Nagasu, he's a big fan of RuPaul's Drag Race. He even skated with one of the show's queens, Milk, once. They're friends IRL, you guys:
11. He once dislocated his shoulder during a competition... and popped it back in place, mid-skate, to finish his program. (Chills.) Adam spent much of 2017 away from the rink because of an injury, but took part in the 2017 Bridgestone Skate America competition where the gnarly shoulder moment happened.
As he explained later, “I got off the ice and saw (U.S. Figure Skating President Samuel Auxier), and I said, ‘You know what, I’m going to do everything I can to skate my best and nothing’s going to stop me from going where I need to go.”
12. When he’s not training on the ice, Adam is living his best Cali life. According to his Team USA profile, he enjoys running (on the beach) and hiking - shirt optional. And because he mostly lives in LA, he’s also a fan of Soul Cycle and yoga.
13. And if he wasn’t a skater, Adam could moonlight as a singer. Here he is covering Rihanna’s “Diamonds” at an exhibition event. The double power move: he performs to his own cover.
14. He already has a career plan in mind for after he retires from skating competitively. Adam’s already done some work choreographing other skaters’ routines, and spoken about the experience: “I can absolutely see [choreography] as my future full-time job. I love working with skaters and helping them achieve their goals. It’s such a rewarding process to see a skater land a jump for the first time or skate to music they love and feel good about themselves.”
To learn more, visit teamusa.org. The Winter Olympics will air live, starting Feb 8th.
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