2016 marked a life long goal for Adam Rippon when he captured the gold medal at U.S. Figure Skating Championships in Saint Paul, MN. Adam then competed at the World Championships in Boston where he placed sixth and received a standing ovation for his performance to a Beatles medley.
After taking bronze at the 2016 CS U.S. Classic, Rippon won bronze at both of his Grand Prix competitions – the 2016 Skate America and 2016 Trophée de France. As a result, he qualified for the first time for the Grand Prix Final..
During an off-ice warmup on January 6, 2017, Rippon sprained his left ankle and fractured the fifth metatarsal bone in his left foot, resulting in his withdrawal from the 2017 U.S. Championships.
At the 2015 U.S. Figure Skating Championships, Adam Rippon combined athleticism and artistry for an extraordinary and memorable performance. Winning the free skate and finishing second overall, he set a new standard for U.S. men’s skating.
What made it all the more impressive was that he had begun the season doubting his place in the sport and wondering whether his impressive early achievements, two World Junior Championships, were the pinnacle of his career. He found an inner resolve and a passion for the sport that fueled him in training. It didn’t matter what other people thought. He was determined to show that hard work pays off.
“I focused on the hard work that I was putting in rather than the placements that I thought I should be getting or what I thought people were expecting me to have,” Rippon said.
Rippon considered the U.S. Championships in Greensboro, NC, a do or die moment. When he achieved a record-setting score in the free skate, a new chapter in his career began.
“I started to believe in myself a bit more,” he said. “I definitely want to take that confidence and all of the experience—the good and the bad—into next season,” said Rippon. “I feel like experience is a tool that I have that a lot of my competitors don’t.”
He is also in the best shape of his life. Now happily settled in Los Angeles, the native East Coaster has embraced the Pacific Ocean and the natural beauty that surrounds the area as well as the vibrant culture. Days off will find him hiking in Runyon Canyon, admiring the view at Griffith Observatory, going to the beach or checking out a museum.
Growing up the oldest of six children, Rippon developed a sense of responsibility that he has carried into his skating. He learned how to balance multiple tasks, focus, see things through and give his best even on a bad day. It also gave him some practical skills that enabled him to be self-sufficient when he left home to train.
Among the tasks he has recently taken on is choreography. Long known as an artistic and expressive skater, Rippon always had ideas for programs, but never formalized them until U.S. ladies medalist Mirai Nagasu asked him to create an exhibition program.
“Then we came up with long program ideas and we decided I was going to do her long program,” he said. As they worked on that, Nagasu also asked him to choreograph a new competitive short program. In addition to those programs, he collaborated with Cindy Stuart on three-time U.S. Ladies Champion Ashley Wagner’s short program and created programs for some younger skaters in the area.
“I realized, I really like doing this,” Rippon said. “It helped me to become a better skater because I was explaining things I never had to think about before. I felt it made me more knowledgeable of what I was doing instead of just going and doing it. Now, I have to explain it and fully understand the movement.”
Watching the skaters perform his choreography in competition was a bit surreal, especially when Wagner and Nagasu were in first and fourth place after the short program at the U.S. Championships. For a first-time choreographer, that was heady stuff. Envisioning movement for others helps Rippon think outside the box and be open to new ideas in his own skating.
Rippon has described the time each year where preparations begin for a new season as his favorite time of year. He loves finding new music and working through the choreographic process to create the programs he will use in competition. For the 2015–16 season, he has worked with Tom Dickson for his short program and Jeffrey Buttle will choreograph the long program. A brilliant and award-winning choreographer, Buttle is known for his unique style and use of music, and Rippon is excited to see what this new collaboration will bring to his skating.
“I’m at a point in my career where I don’t want to play it safe. I want to take risks with my music and try different themes,” Rippon said.
After enormous success in international junior competition, the 2009-10 season was Rippon’s breakthrough in the senior ranks. He won a bronze medal at Trophée Eric Bompard on the Grand Prix circuit and claimed gold at the ISU Four Continents Championships—coming from seventh place in the short program to take the title with an incredible free skating performance. He has continued to do well in Grand Prix events, winning medals at Skate Canada and Skate America, and earned two top 10 finishes at the World Championships.
Each summer, he takes dance classes in different genres, and that influence is apparent in his line, finesse over the ice and superb musical interpretation.
Rippon has showcased his lyrical skating in tours and shows in the U.S., Canada, Germany, Italy, Korea, China and Japan.
Last year, he and Wagner got to have a decidedly Hollywood experience when they attended the Academy Awards. They walked the red carpet, attended the ceremony and went to the Governor’s Ball. The best friends are now developing a blog about their lives as elite athletes and residents of SoCal.
“[The Oscars were] surreal,” he said. “The acting community seems so much like the skating community—everybody kind of knew each other. It was such a great experience to be there. When (host) Ellen DeGeneres was doing the world’s most retweeted selfie, it was so cool seeing it happen. I have pictures on my phone of the selfie being taken. It was an awesome night.”
Fans can follow Rippon on Twitter and Instagram @Adaripp and on his Web site, AdamRippon.com.