Adam Rippon: ‘I’ll be 100 percent when it counts’
NEW YORK – Adam Rippon stopped by TODAY to skate at the Rink at Rockefeller Center, one of his first performances after breaking his foot in January. He told NBC Olympics what is new about this Olympic cycle for him in the lead-up to the 2018 PyeongChang Games and explained why he’s so grateful to be a part of the Stars on Ice cast.
Can you tell us about Stars on Ice and how it’s your reintroduction to skating?
As soon as I broke my foot and as soon as I got my Stars on Ice contract, it was my goal to be ready for the tour. As I was getting closer, I had some doubts that I would be ready. But I’m so thankful my team of trainers and everybody that helped me get on the ice and be strong and be ready to just come back and feel really confident on the ice. Before I had gone on tour, I had only skated three days. And then I had the week of rehearsals. All my cast mates and everybody on the staff and everything, they were just so great. I felt really good. And by the time show hit, I felt like I was my old self again.
Would you say that you’re at 100 percent?
I would say I’m about 75 [percent]. I still am limited in what I can do regarding my left foot. But I am skating every day. I’m doing flip, loop and Lutz. I still haven’t done an Axel, a Sal[chow] or a toe. I’m on the right track. Just being on the ice makes me feel confident that I’ll able to be at 100 percent very soon.
I wanted to ask about the cast, too, because everyone is friends. What’s it like being on the road together?
It’s so much fun. For everybody else it’s kind of the end of a long season. But for me, it’s the beginning of a season. I feel so lucky to be a part of it again. I really missed being a part of that group and being a part of the action. And I missed it so much. When I was back with everyone, I had a moment to myself. I pulled my good friend Ashley Wagner aside and I said, “We’re so lucky.” Sometimes when we’re so busy and it goes – boom, boom, boom – we forget to take a moment and remind ourselves how fortunate we are to be doing what we love and all of that. Having my time away from the ice, and then getting back into it and being on the Stars tour, it’s awesome. It feels so good to be back.
What was your day to day like during your injury? Was it a complete reversal of a normal training day?
It was effing terrible. It was so bad. I’m just one of those people that, if there’s a problem, I want to work through it. Push through it and do everything I can. Anything. I love being active. This was the first time in my life that the only way to get better was to do nothing, and just wait. It was just terrible! At first I put myself on this timeline that, eight weeks, I’d be back on the ice. That was quick. That ended up being halfway through. I had been in the boot for eight weeks and then they said it needed to be four more weeks. We did another x-ray, and they said four more. And so I actually had been in the boot for almost 14 weeks before I was even in a sneaker. Then I was in a sneaker for about four weeks and I said, “Can I go on the ice, please?” And they said, “You’ve already been on the ice.” I went that morning. I snuck on the ice one time! I did my best to stay absolutely true to what they wanted me to do. This is such an important year. Beyond that, I don’t want to mess anything up. It can become really serious. I’m really grateful for everybody who kept me sane. They kept me busy when I went out to Colorado Springs. They kept me in the gym for a few hours every day. I was working with a trainer and a therapist for another hour. I had a full day, it just wasn’t on the ice. I still felt like I was an athlete. I am so grateful to the people I was working with.
Because this is such an important year, has your outlook changed? You’ve been through this before.
I have. I would just say that compared to other Olympic cycles, I feel confident. I don’t feel like I need to do anything extraordinary or anything like that. I’ve never taken more than maybe five or 10 days off, ever. In my whole life, ever since starting to skate. Taking three months off was definitely a humbling experience. But not having taken any of that time off for 17 years, I think maybe it was needed and necessary. I was able to deal with a few small injuries, little nagging things, and I was able to get a nice core base of strength because I had been doing all those strengthening exercises. I feel strong. I feel mature. I think being a little bit older and wiser, I know to be patient and take my time. I’m confident in what I need to get done and what I need to do. I’m confident that I’ll be in shape and 100 percent when it counts.
I'm confident in what I need to get done and what I need to do. I'm confident that I'll be in shape and 100 percent when it counts.
Do you have anything that you can reveal for the Olympic season?
Well I am in between trying to pick some music for my short program right now. But, my free skate, I’m going to keep my “Arrival of the Birds” and Coldplay. I love that. It feels like my story. The bird is broken but at the end he flies and he’s free. And my foot was broken and now I’m going to fly and be free.
What color will your hair be for the season?
I’m just rocking that natural shade of whatever this is. It’s just much easier.
I know you’ve said you don’t watch a ton of skating, but I was wondering if you watched Worlds.
Was that sad?
You know, at that point I had really accepted what had happened. Nationals was probably the weirdest. Obviously I really wanted to be at Worlds and skating, but the only thing I could do was focus on my recovery and cheer on my teammates. They skated great. I couldn’t have asked for anything more.
That’s very mature, like you said.
I mean, what was I gonna do? Throw a temper tantrum and have a breakdown? It wasn’t worth it.
On Icenetwork’s podcast “IceTalk,” you said that “your whole life is TBH,” which is one of my favorite things that you’ve ever said. Plus, the “I’m like a witch” comment. So I was wondering, what you can shine a light on through your wisdom.
I would say that I’m a hot mess all the time. I usually finish things in the last second. But I think, as I’ve gotten older, I don’t worry about it and I just rock it. If I forgot to put something on and I have to wear a trash bag, I’m just like, I’m gonna rock a trash bag today. I’m really go-with-the-flow, but I take things really seriously. At the same time, when things don’t go my way, I don’t ever freak out. Why? Why freak out?
I’ve also heard you are a great cook. And I wanted to know about any failed experiments.
Yea, excellent. Oh my god. Everything I’ve ever cooked. I’m trying to think… recently, no. I’ve strayed away from it. I have a lot of raw things. Not because I’m trying healthy!
You don’t want to cook it?
No, I don’t want to do that. It’s just safer that way. If I really apply myself… I’m so scattered. I’m an organized person!
I’m not convinced.
I’m not… I’m not. Somehow, I’m not making dinner for anyone, any time soon. Not for a while.
Okay. Lastly, what’s on your agenda for New York City while you’re visiting?
This trip is just a super quick trip. We are coming here as a cast to go to the Figure Skating in Harlem charity event [in May]. My friend Ashley and I are coming a day early. We’re gonna try to get a lot of our New York friends together and do a group skate together. Just friends from all over the country that have ended up in New York that we haven’t seen in years. It’ll be a lot of fun. And Ashley and I both have brothers that live here. And her brother used to skate. We’ll get her brother, our old friends and we’ll have a great old time.