Figure skater becomes first American gay male to compete in the Winter Olympics
Adam Rippon will finally get to live his Olympic dream after he was selected as one of three men’s skaters on the U.S. Olympic team on Sunday.
“I’m really grateful that the selection committee looked at my body of work over the last two seasons,” Rippon said. “ … I feel that my experience will help me have my best performances at the Olympic Games, and it feels amazing to say that.”
Rippon, 28, will become the first openly gay American male skater to compete in the Olympics. He will be joined as an openly gay athlete on the ice by Canadian pairs skater Eric Radford. U.S. freestyle skier Gus Kenworthy is also expected to make the U.S. team, giving us three openly gay male Winter Olympians. There had previously never been an out gay male Winter Olympian; skater Johnny Weir never really hid his orientation but also never publicly declared it until after he retired.
Rippon is also, according to research, the first publicly out gay man ever selected to a Winter Olympics team from any country in any sport.
He was the final U.S. skater selected, beating out Ross Miner. Nathan Chen, 18, and Vincent Zhou, 17, are the other team members. Rippon won the slot despite a fourth-place finish at the U.S. nationals Saturday night (Miner finished second). But Rippon was credited with a more consistent performances over the course of the skating year.
When a reporter asked the skaters Sunday: “What will it be like for you guys to have somebody a decade older as your teammate? And Adam, what are your plans for the kids?” Rippon replied: “I’m honored to be their father”
What’s great about Rippon is that he is very out and proud, with a sense of humor and also a seriousness as a competitor.
“A few weeks ago I was asked in an interview, ‘What is it like being a gay athlete in sports?’ I said it’s exactly like being a straight athlete except with better eyebrows,” Rippon said.
“I think sharing my story has made me a better competitor because I don’t really care what other people think of me. I’m able to go out there and I’m really able to be unabashedly myself. And I love myself,” he said. “When I’m able to go out there and just really be me, I’m able to put my hard work forward and I want somebody who’s young, who’s struggling, who’s not sure if it’s OK if they are themselves, to know that it’s OK that there are so many people out there who have the same worries. ... If you set your mind to something, you can truly do anything.”
The Olympics begin in Pyeongchang, South Korea on Feb. 9.
The Gayly 1/9/2018 @ 12:00 p.m.