Adam Rippon made history on Sunday when he was named as one of the three male figure skaters who will represent the United States next month at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. Not only is he the oldest American figure skating Olympic rookie since 1936, Rippon became the first openly gay man to compete for the United States in the Winter Olympics in the process, according to NPR.
“I think in this day and age, it’s so important for you to be proud of who you are,” Rippon told reporters last week. “I can’t believe I am where I am today. I was just a little gay kid in the middle of nowhere Pennsylvania. Growing up I didn’t have a lot of role models. I said if I was ever given a platform and had a chance I would share my story.”
Rippon almost missed the cut. While he found himself in second place in the U.S. Figure Skating Championships as of Thursday night, Rippon fell to fourth place on Saturday after falling on his opening quad jump in his free skate and then messing up two triples late in the program, according to ThinkProgress. Even so, the committee decided to select Rippon over Ross Miner, who finished in second place, because he has a better track record.
“I’m really grateful that the selection committee looked at my body of work over the last two seasons,” Rippon said on Sunday. “. . . I feel that my experience will help me have my best performances at the Olympic Games, and it feels amazing to say that.”
This was Rippon’s third attempt at making the Olympic team — he placed fifth at the nationals in 2010 and then eighth in 2014. He considered quitting the sport altogether following his disappointing placement in 2014.