Adam Rippon reflects on his role at the 2018 Olympics

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So it’s just another competition? You have to treat the Winter Olympics that way?

Many athletes say this, perhaps trying to convince themselves that the Games are a regular, unimportant event. Adam Rippon even used this scheme in 2018.

Then Rippon – and the sports world – discovered something very different.

Rippon, who came out publicly in October 2015, was the first openly gay athlete to represent the United States in Olympic competition. His high-profile verbal battles with then-Vice President Mike Pence over openness and inclusiveness were as memorable as nearly anything anyone has done on ice or snow in Pyeongchang.

“If I talk to someone about my Olympics and my experience,” Rippon says, “sometimes they’ll talk about my performance or talk about what it meant to them to see someone speak and use their voice. The more I m away from the Olympics and my own experiences, the more I understand, the prouder I am of what I have been able to accomplish.

No, these Olympics were nothing like other competitions.

“It never overshadowed my role as an Olympian and competing for Team USA,” Rippon said. “Even when I had the chance to speak and do interviews, I always knew that the most important thing for me was to be a great representative of what it means to be on Team USA. That was always my main goal when I was there.

He firmly believes it must be the same for everyone on Team USA next month, including US figure skating champion Mariah Bell, whom Rippon works with as a quasi-coach, choreographer, sounding board. and friend.

The Olympics taking place in a country where human rights issues are rampant should not distract participants, notes Rippon.

“A lot of athletes had Olympic dreams before the Olympics were in Beijing again,” he says. “I think the goal is that athletes still want to be in the Olympics and they know what that means – especially for figure skating and (in the summer) gymnastics and swimming, where that’s the biggest event. most important. The athletes were put in a very impossible situation to comment on. Everyone is on everyone’s side deserves to be treated equally and no violation of human rights should be tolerated.

“But being there and competing, that’s what they’re here for.”

Rippon helped his country win a bronze medal in the team competition and finished 10th individually at the Pyeongchang Games. Then he quit skating, although he is an integral part of the Bell team.

Shortly after those Olympics, Rippon won “Dancing With The Stars.” Her involvement in the entertainment world continued and expanded, while her growing fame provided Rippon with a platform to speak out for LGBTQ rights and the freedom to be yourself.

His ventures have included working as a correspondent for ABC’s “Good Morning America” ​​and “Nightline,” for which his feature film based on an encounter with LGBTQ youth in Laramie, Wyoming was nominated for a GLAAD Award. He appeared on the TV show “Will & Grace” and in a Taylor Swift video.

Rippon’s memoir, “Beautiful on the Outside,” was released in 2019, and he hosted two seasons of “Break the Ice with Adam Rippon,” a weekly celebrity ice talk show airing on his YouTube channel. . After being drawn to the comedic itch, Rippon is in “Messyness,” a comedy music video series on MTV, and last year hosted Tokyo Olympics “Talkin’ Tokyo” for NBC.

“I like to do a lot of comedy work and try to take it more seriously (as a profession),” he says. “I was able to experiment and explore what I really like to do. Entertainment is so wide in what you can pursue. I loved everything I got to do in a comedy space. In the coming years and this year, I really want to focus on that, working more in comedy.

“I’ve had the chance to do comedy writing, which is really something I’m passionate about, to be in this space, and another challenge to focus on.”

He also knows how difficult acting is.

“Oh yeah,” Rippon said with a loud laugh, “landing a triple axel is just as hard as making some people laugh sometimes.”

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More AP Winter Olympics: https://apnews.com/hub/winter-olympics and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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