Fresh off his harness haute couture at the Oscars, Adam Rippon has been on the media circuit, capitalizing on his Olympic fame. But in an interview with The New York Times, Rippon addresses some serious questions about his future.
And based on his answers, it doesn’t look like the future will include competitive skating any more – certainly not the Olympics.
“This is my first and last Olympic experience as an athlete,” Rippon said bluntly. “On our Olympic team I was 28 years old, and we had two other really talented kids who were 17 and 18. So there’s a bit of an age gap there where I could have changed their diapers and babysat them when they were born. I’m an Olympic medalist, I’m a former national champion — I think now is my time to kind of step back and help them.”
Rippon is a little less conclusive about skating in general, but he certainly seems to have started looking at his skating career in retrospect. Asked point blank if he will stop competing altogether, Rippon hedged.
“I don’t know.” he told the Times. “I know I won’t make it to another Olympic Games. And I think right now, being one week out of the Olympics, it’s probably too early to be like, ‘It’s over! Tie ’em up, put ’em on the shelf!’ It’s something I’ve been trying to do my entire life. Now everything I do is literally just bonus.”
Rippon also said that he knew that being outspoken going into the Olympics would put the media spotlight on him.
“I knew that I was opening my big mouth and saying a lot of stuff. I, at some level, knew that I would get a lot of attention — it’s not typical that athletes go and they speak their mind or they joke around with the media who’s there,” he said.
But he adds he realized that the attention would eventually help him and others as well.
“But at that time I was sort of having fun with it, because there started being more and more attention and then all of a sudden it was like, I bet by the end of this people will start calling me America’s sweetheart,” he noted (which they did). “I really wanted to push the narrative that you can just be yourself, and there will be people who don’t like you — but they’re stupid.”
As for Rippon’s feud with Vice President Mike Pence, Rippon says that he felt he had to speak up about the antigay sentiment that Pence represents.
“The world is watching,” Rippon said. “It’s your chance to speak up for those people who really don’t feel like they have a voice. I was asked a question and I just answered it really honestly and you know, I’m a 28-year-old taxpaying voting man. As a fully grown adult, it’s important for me to voice my concerns.”
Rippon said that deciding to come out actually improved his skating. “I said, you know what, I want to be taken seriously and I don’t want to come out as gay when I’m skating terribly,” he said. “So I worked really hard, because I felt like it was important — it gave my skating a greater purpose because it was not for me.”
As a result, Rippon felt he could be himself at last. “If you can’t embrace who you are, how are you going to show a panel of judges or the world who you are in four minutes? I’m just going to be me who loves trashy music and wants to skate in something that’s kind of slutty.”
As Rippon discovered, slutty is good for an Olympics medal.