10 Big Olympic Moments You Missed This Weekend

10 Big Olympic Moments You Missed This Weekend
‘I’m America’s sweetheart’: Adam Rippon won bronze, but he’s a gold-medal talker
nAdam Rippon speaks during a press conference at the Main Press Centre on Feb. 13, 2018 in Pyeongchang-gun, South Korea.

Adam Rippon speaks during a press conference at the Main Press Centre on Feb. 13, 2018 in Pyeongchang-gun, South Korea.

U.S. figure skater Adam Rippon has spent much of his first week or so at these Olympics sharing his opinions, and inspiring them in others. He has emerged as a fan favorites and one of the more talked-about athletes in Pyeongchang because of his openness with his thoughts on LGBT rights, his own coming-out story, his haters and his teammates.

Column: A medalist now too, Rippon embraces role at Olympics

After skating a near-flawless free skate in the team competition, which wrapped up Monday, the 28-year-old began the run-up to his first Olympic singles competition with the news conference most athletes give before their competition. Alongside his (comparatively) stone-faced countryman, 17-year-old Vincent Zhou, Rippon provided another talk show-worthy performance Tuesday.

“And then, when you see, like, all these things about other people who have won the Olympics and everything, you think that you’ve done a great thing,” Rippon, a Scranton, Pennsylvania, native, told reporter Jim Coles. “But you’re still so far away.”

While Nathan Chen remains the U.S. figure skater to watch on the medal front, Rippon continues to make himself the skater to watch on every other front. Here are his five best quotes:

In a recently unearthed 2003 interview with Pennsylvania TV station WNEP-TV, Rippon, then 13, demonstrated much the same determination as he did Monday when he helped Team USA clinch a bronze medal in the figure skating team event.

To watch Mirai Nagasu go out there and also skate a clean free skate … I mean, we’ve really been through a lot together. Four years ago, we were eating In-N-Out on the roof of her house in Arcadia, California, and we were crying that we weren’t at the Olympics. And four years later, we’re sharing an Olympic podium together. So, if you’re ever depressed, go to In-N-Out, and four years later you’ll be at the Olympics!

Adam Rippon talks about rooftop In-N-Out with Mirai Nagasu and becoming America’s sweetheart

The other day I was joking to one of my friends. He was like, ‘you’re kind of everywhere right now.’ I was like, ‘I know, I’m America’s sweetheart.’ He laughed in my face. I think what you think of as the American people embracing — I don’t think, on paper, I embody anything of that perceived persona. I think that’s what people are latching on to, that I’m different.

Skater Adam Rippon On His Feud With Vice President: I Don’t Want My Olympic Experience To Be About Mike Pence

People have told me, ‘oh, you’re a lot different than what I thought.’ I say, ‘oh, what did you think?’ They’re like ‘oh, we just thought you were an a–.’ I’m like, ‘oh … yikes.’ I’m just trying to share who I am, my personality … Sometimes I might meet people and they might just not like me, not want to get to know me. And that’s OK. They’re boring as hell anyway.

'I'm America's sweetheart': Adam Rippon won bronze, but he's a gold-medal talker
‘I’m America’s sweetheart’: Adam Rippon won bronze, but he’s a gold-medal talker

Vincent and I were born in different millennia. We were! I was born in the ’80s, girl. … No electronics. No phone. The Berlin Wall came down when I was, like, born. The Internet was, like, invented when Vincent was born. So we’re definitely different.

Sometimes when you’re not confident in yourself, to see someone who doesn’t care — and I don’t care anymore. I really don’t care — it gives you that confidence. I remember seeing people who I thought were so confident and exuberant. I remember being young and watching Oprah and being like ‘damn. That lady is so confident. She can talk to anybody.’

Pence seems unwilling to believe that Rippon could have a genuine reason for rejecting a meeting with him, tweeting on February 8: “@Adaripp I want you to know we are FOR YOU. Don’t let fake news distract you. I am proud of you and ALL OF OUR GREAT athletes and my only hope for you and all of #TeamUSA is to bring home the gold. Go get ‘em! ”

The top photos from the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

“If it were before my event, I would absolutely not go out of my way to meet somebody who I felt has gone out of their way to not only show that they aren’t a friend of a gay person but that they think that they’re sick,” Rippon added. “I wouldn’t go out of my way to meet somebody like that.”

No, Mirai Nagasu does not have a giant ‘USA’ tattoo on her thigh

Canada’s Kaitlyn Lawes and John Morris celebrate after winning their mixed doubles curling finals match against Switzerland at the 2018 Winter Olympics on Feb. 13, 2018. Canada won the gold medal.

Rippon’s comments appear to refer to Pence’s 2000 congressional campaign website on which the then-candidate said he believed resources should be “directed toward those institutions which provide assistance to those seeking to change their sexual behaviour.”

Mirai Nagasu went from NHL ice girl to landing a triple axel in the Olympics

Canada’s Kaitlyn Lawes and John Morris celebrate after winning their mixed doubles curling finals match against Switzerland at the 2018 Winter Olympics on Feb. 13, 2018. Canada won the gold medal.

The gay athlete reportedly refused a meeting with Pence in Pyeongchang and has made it clear he has no time for what he believes to be the vice president’s views about gay people. However he said the feud was becoming a potential distraction from the Games.

Today in Conservative Media: Dear Adam Rippon, “You’re Gay. Get Over It.”

Gold medalist Kjeld Nuis of the Netherlands celebrates after winning the men’s 1,500-meter race at the Gangneung Oval on Feb. 13, 2018.

Figure skaters Adam Rippon (left) and Vincent Zhou share a lot more in common than people might think. (Getty)MoreSomeone noted how they couldn’t be more different. The more they spoke, though, the more the similarities exposed themselves. Perhaps because of the way Rippon can whip everything up and sweep everyone along with him. Or, perhaps the way Zhou can speak with a wisdom and worldliness far beyond his teenage years that causes even Rippon to stop and listen to each phrase.

Gold medalist Kjeld Nuis of the Netherlands celebrates after winning the men’s 1,500-meter race at the Gangneung Oval on Feb. 13, 2018.

That might have been the storyline on Adam Rippon at this Olympics, and it’s not a bad hook. The last time a figure skater so old made his Olympic debut was 1936, when NBC was just a radio network and the skating took place outdoors.

No, Mirai Nagasu does not have a giant ‘USA’ tattoo on her inner thigh

But Adam Rippon is unlike any figure skater you know. And Adam Rippon loves to talk.

Rippon said he’s learned from Zhou, mostly the unlikely sensibleness and professionalism that the teenager carries. “At 17, I wasn’t as mature as Vincent,” Rippon said. “I was seeing people who could jump better than I could or skate faster and I would be jealous. I would be jealous that I couldn’t do that. And now being older I really look at Vincent and I am in complete awe.”

Too much and too loudly for some people, who don’t like his message or his style. They’re the ones who talk back to him on social media, saying they hope he takes a big fall when it matters most.

Column: A medalist now too, Rippon embraces role at Olympics
Column: A medalist now too, Rippon embraces role at Olympics

About being gay and being a skater. About double cheeseburgers and tears under a night sky.

About being so broke a few years ago he lived at times on apples that he “appropriated” from a gym.

And, of course, about Vice President Mike Pence — and anyone else who Rippon believes wants to trample LGBT rights.

Rippon remembers watching the Sochi Opening Ceremony a month later at Nagasu’s house, and commiserating over In-N-Out burgers. He told Yahoo Sports that story, as well as the one behind the tattoos, on Tuesday ahead of his individual event later this week.

The Bittersweet Beauty of Adam Rippon

Mostly, though, Rippon talks about being himself, and how he happily embraces a world that doesn’t always embrace him back.

Olympian Mirai Nagasu’s USA tattoo not what it seems

“Honestly, it’s really fun to be yourself,” Rippon said Tuesday. “It’s really fun to be me.”

Adam Rippon on feeling like he would ‘throw up’ in Olympic debut and having ‘nothing to say’ to Mike Pence

Right now, it’s a blast. Rippon already has a bronze medal after putting on a scintillating performance in the team competition Monday, and he returns to the ice Friday convinced he has a shot in the individual men’s event.

He goes to press conferences where microphones are put in front of his face, happy to answer any question.

“I was very upset for a really long time, but you know, I changed myself and really, really became a better skater. … It was like a conscious decision to make a comeback even though I hadn’t taken a break or anything, and to have overcome that little bit of a slump is not something a lot of skaters have the perseverance to get through.

“I’ve always spoken my mind and from the heart,” Rippon said. “I think America’s just catching up. The other day I was joking to one of my friends and he was like, you’re kind of everywhere now. I said, ‘I know, I’m like America’s sweetheart.'”

‘So special, so much fun’: Adam Rippon is on an Olympics joyride

Rippon became the first openly gay figure skater to make the U.S. team, and he joked Tuesday about finding a new flame for Valentine’s Day.

Winter Olympics: Tuesday's schedule, updated medal count and latest news from Pyeongchang
Winter Olympics: Tuesday’s schedule, updated medal count and latest news from Pyeongchang

It’s the same sense of humor he uses to approach everything in his life, even here, where the stakes are the highest and any lapse in concentration means the difference between standing on the medal podium and going home empty handed.

“It might come off as cocky, but I’ve been through a lot in my life. I’ve used my sense of humor as a coping tool. It’s gotten me through a lot of challenging times.”

It was needed six years ago when he lived in the basement of his coach, Rafael Arutunian, and took the apples because he had to spend what little money he had on a gym membership. It was badly needed when he was left off the Olympic team four years ago, and he and women’s skater Mirai Nagasu shed tears while sitting on the roof of her house eating In-N-Out burgers as others competed in Sochi.

Now they’re both Olympic medalists — Nagasu was part of the team performance — with the possibility of more to come.

“To think yesterday we shared an Olympic podium together, its serendipity,” Rippon said. “I keep telling her, can you believe we’re at the Olympics and we’re roommates? After where we were four years ago it’s too weird, but it’s so cool. So, so cool.”

His spat with Pence — Rippon said he had no interest in meeting the vice president when he visited the Olympics because of his record on gay rights — was a big story. Rippon hasn’t backed off the comments, though he said he didn’t want them to define his Olympic experience.

His Twitter feed is so crowded with comments — both pro and con — that he can’t get on it. But he doesn’t just want to be defined as a gay skater — he and freestyle skier Gus Kenworthy are the only two openly gay US athletes here — but rather as an Olympic medalist who is gay.

Where Mirai Nagasu’s parents were when she hit her triple Axel and won a bronze medal

“I’m not a gay Olympian. I’m just an Olympian,” Rippon said. “And now I’m an Olympic medalist and I happen to be gay. It has nothing to do with how I got here. It does help to have nice eyebrows, though.”

There was the humor again, though Rippon does have a serious message from these games. It comes from the messages he gets from young gay people back home who — still in the closet — are scared and take comfort in his stance and his words.

“I know what it’s like to be a young kid and feel out of place,” he said. “To want to share your ideas and feel like people might not like them. I spent a lot of time worrying what people thought of me and soon as I was able to let go of those doubts, that’s when I was able to find my voice. I hope that in the process of me sharing who I am with everyone, that they can find their voice too.”


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