For viewers at home, watching the Winter Olympics is a fun event that happens every four years, but many of these athletes have been training their whole lives to get to this moment, where they can finally compete for the chance at an Olympic medal. However, for Adam Rippon, making the U.S. Olympic team wasn't just monumental for him, but inspiring for so many others. So who is Adam Rippon in the 2018 Winter Olympics?
The 28-year-old is one of the three males to qualify for the U.S. Olympic figure skating team. At 28 this is his first Olympic run making him the oldest American figure skating Olympic rookie since 1936. Additionally, he's the first openly gay American male skater to qualify for the 2018 Olympic team; Gus Kenworthy became the second when he earned a spot on the Olympic ski team a few weeks later.
Last year, Rippon spoke to TeamUSA.org about his coming out story and how the stigma about all male ice skaters being gay actually made him not want to come out. "A lot of times it's taboo, especially with boys, like, 'You skate, you're gay,'" he said. "That's not always the case, but that being said, you feel a little shame. Being gay and a skater, you don't want it to be true."
However, Rippon said that once he came out he felt more like himself. "I went out and I felt like I was performing as myself and not a character," he said. "That's really what helped push me to win my first national title." He won the U.S. Championships title in 2016. Unfortunately, he broke his foot during training the following year and couldn't compete in 2017 and this year he came in fourth. However, despite the fourth place finish, due to his success over the past year he still made it to the Olympic team.
Unlike many other skaters, Rippon got a bit of a late start to his ice skating career. As a child he suffered a few health issues, including being born with an eye infection and 80 percent hearing loss. Both were corrected before his first birthday, but he also had a severe respiratory condition and his appendix burst when he was 5 years old. Thankfully, he survived both. Thus, Rippon didn't start ice skating until the age of 10.
Still, despite a "late start," Rippon has fought his way to the top. He won the 2008 and 2009 world junior championship gold medals, making him the only man to win back-to-back World Junior titles. From there he went on to find continued success on the U.S. and world stages, and now he's at PyeongChang, South Korea for the Olympics. Rippon has come an incredibly long way and hopefully this is only just the beginning for him, and he'll walk away with an Olympic medal this year.
Competing alongside him on the U.S. Olympic team are 18-year-old Nathan Chen and 17-year-old Vincent Zhou, making Rippon the oldest person on the team. Currently, Chen is projected to be the U.S.'s best shot at gold in the men's category with his skill in jumping, and Zhou is also known for his quad jumps. But I wouldn't count Rippon out. While Chen and Zhou may have the jumps, Rippon has the theatrics, and as he told The Baltimore Sun, he has plenty of experience and he's been very consistent with his routines.
Still, these three aren't just competing against each other, so they'll have to put everything they have on the ice to try and win the gold. Hopefully, they'll all be able to find success at the Olympics.
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