Q&A with Adam Rippon
Adam Rippon was the two-time world junior champion in 2008 and 2009 but says his breakout moment was winning his first national title in 2016.
How did you bounce back from injuring your foot right before the 2017 U.S. National Championships and losing the chance to defend your title?
It's been the hardest thing I've ever had to come back from. Missing the opportunity to defend my national title was very tough. I decided that I was going to focus on my recovery right away. I moved into the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo. to work with the trainers and therapists. Having the time off the ice has been challenging but it gave me the time to really focus on doing everything I can to be at my best at the Olympics. As soon as I broke my foot, I remember thinking that I'm going to make this the best thing that's ever happened to me. I was going to do everything I not only come back but reinvent myself and be better than ever. Everybody better watch out ;)
What’s your earliest memory of seeing the Olympics?
My earliest memory of the Olympics was watching the 1996 Games in Atlanta. I remember everyone being so excited to watch. Seeing the American athletes on the podium, I saw myself. I knew that that was what I wanted to do. I wanted to be one of those athletes on the podium representing their country and bringing home medals.
What’s the earliest memory you have of seeing figure skating?
I remember my mom let me stay up late and watch Tara Lipinski and Michelle Kwan compete in the 1998 Olympic Games. I made paper medals and wore them the whole night. I didn't start skating until 2000 but I was so inspired by their skating that it was why I wanted to start. I always loved music, to dance, and to be really active. When I started skating, it was the first time all of these things came together. It felt like magic and I always wanted to be at the rink.
What’s the most fun part of your sport that’s hidden from audiences?
I would say people don't really get to see the process of prepping for a season. There is so much excitement in getting ready for the year. You choose music, work with your choreographer, and start making goals for the season. This one of my favorite parts of the season.
What do you think about figure skaters’ reputations?
I think people underestimate the mental toughness figure skaters have. Some of the toughest and most ruthless competitors I know are my skating friends.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
“Stay true to yourself, trust your gut, and never worry about what others will think.”
No one has gotten me more mentally ready for competition than my mom. I can remember two similar instances where my mom has given me a vital pep talk. Before I skated the free skate performances that won me my first World Junior title and my first national championship, I came to my mom and told her how nervous I was. While I was only just telling her I was nervous, I started crying. When I finished telling her different things I was nervous and stressed about my mom looked at me and said "You are ready. Remember all the hard work you have done and when you skate today, it is a celebration of all that hard work." I take that advice with me in everything I do.
What’s your biggest fear when competing?
My biggest fear is not knowing how things will turn out. But it's also the most exciting part of competition, anything can happen. I think when we can push past our fears, they help do things we didn't originally think possible.
What about your biggest fear overall?
No cell phone service.
Do you have any Olympic role models?
Michelle Kwan, Tara Lipinski, Brian Boitano, Yevgeni Plushenko, Usain Bolt, and Michael Phelps. But Aly Raisman has really inspired me recently. She came back after winning gold in 2012 to being an even better gymnast in 2016. Usually, age is a huge factor in gymnastics but she uses her maturity and experience to push herself to new heights. Her story reminds me that if you set your mind to it, anything is possible.
In another life, I was a gymnast. I can do a pretty mean cartwheel.
Who is your most interesting teammate?
Me. Because I can always make my teammates laugh. I try and always be there for them if they ever need someone to talk to or need a kick in the butt.
Who do you see as your biggest rival, and do you consider it friendly or contentious?
Nathan Chen is my biggest rival. He won the national title while I had to sit out in 2017. I have been training with Nathan for the past five years. I feel like he's a little brother. I'm really proud of what he's been able to achieve and in practice, he pushes me to be unafraid and better than I was the day before.
How diligently do you set goals for yourself?
I am always setting goals for myself. It helps me stay on track. Usually, at the beginning of a season, I will set goals of what I want to achieve. I take it a step further and set goals for myself every week. I always run them by my coach and ask "how can we get this done this week?" When I do all of this, it's how I get to my long-term goals and keep every day interesting in practice.
What’s the most grueling workout you’ve ever done?
The first workout I ever did with one of the trainers at home was the worst of my life. He killed me. We worked for about one hour, my legs were shaking, my heart was pounding, and my trainer looked at me and said, "Okay, the warm-up is over. Do you think you'll be okay for the workout?" He wasn't being sarcastic at all. It was so tough but I survived and I've been so much better off for it ever since.
Do you have any tattoos?
I have five tattoos. They are all in white ink.
What’s a perfect off day for you?
A day of relaxing, walking around the beach, and an ice cold beer and a burger. This doesn't happen often at all. But it does sound pretty good.
What are your favorite movies and TV shows?
Superstar, Bridesmaids, Harry Potter, Romy and Michelle's High School Reunion
TV: Broad City, Scream Queens, RuPaul’s Drag Race, Adventure Time
Are you superstitious?
I'm actually superstitious about being superstitious. I will go out of my way to do things to prove that I'm being a little nutty, haha. My lucky charm is all the hard work I did at home.
What do you do before a competition?
I take a nap during the day. I watch something that will make me laugh. I remind myself I am ready and then I'm ready to do anything.
What about after the competition?
I love to go back to my hotel room, take a long shower, and call friends and family back home.
What’s your go-to karaoke song?
One Night Only, from Dream Girls. I mean, someone needed to do it, and I guess it had to be me.
Hear more from your favorite figure skaters in Q&As:
Adam Rippon | Alexa Scimeca Knierim | Ashley Cain | Ashley Wagner | Chris Knierim | Danny O'Shea | Evan Bates | Haven Denney | Jason Brown | Kaitlin Hawayek and Jean-Luc Baker | Karen Chen | Madison Chock | Madison Hubbell | Maia and Alex Shibutani | Mariah Bell | Max Aaron | Mirai Nagasu | Nathan Chen | Polina Edmunds | Tarah Kanye | Timothy LeDuc | Vincent Zhou