GANGNEUNG, South Korea — Left off the team in 2014, despite a second place finish at the Olympic trials, Adam Rippon is excited to finally be an Olympian.
So excited, in fact, that he keeps reminding his Olympic Village roommate Mirai Nagasu—about every 10 minutes, by his estimation—that they are finally Olympians. “He says, Can you believe what’s happening?” says Nagasu. “We’re here at the Olympics together. And I go, okay, let’s get ready to compete now.”
He and Nagasu, both of whom were bypassed for other skaters for the 2014 Olympic team, had breakout performances at the team skating event on Monday in the Gangneung Ice Arena. Nagasu made history after she landed a triple axel, becoming the first U.S. woman to complete the jump in an Olympic competition, while Rippon’s powerful free skate to Coldplay quickly made him the top trending Twitter topic after his scores put him in third place.
Before he took the ice—and even during his program—Rippon admitted that he did quite a bit of talking to himself.
"I don’t think I’ve ever been that nervous at 10 a.m. in my entire life. I went back there, and was sitting back stage, and I said, you’re fine, you got this. But I sat down in a chair right after the six minute warm up and I was like, I’m a little nervous. Then I was like, hehe, you’re going to miss every element in your program.
I was like, okay, I’m going to get out there, I’m going to take one thing at a time, and I know I can do this. I’ve done it a million times here. I’ve done it a million times in practice. Rafael [Arutunian, Rippon’s coach] looked at me, said—one thing at a time and just enjoy yourself. You’re here."
As he closed in on the end of the program, Rippon says, “I was saying to myself, baby you better keep it together. I was going into my last spin and I remember I looked at one of the judges, I pushed forward and said [to myself] you were never known for your jumps so you better spin the hell out of this last spin.”
He did, and the rest is history, which is fine with Rippon. “This is the moment I’ve been waiting for my entire life. Now I am actually an Olympian. They have footage, they can pull it up. Let the record show that Adam Rippon is an Olympian,” he says.