Twenty-eight-year-old figure skater Adam Rippon had an excellent night at the 2018 U.S. National championships last night coming in just a tad behind reigning national champ Nathan Chen.
Rippon, a two-time world junior champ, scored a personal-best of 96.52 points which leaves him within striking distance of Chen who notched a 104.45 in the short program.
Rippon, who came out in 2015, missed out on the 2014 Olympic team due to a flu that kept him from posting his best at the nationals that year.
More bad luck followed as he missed nationals last year due to a broken foot.
But Rippon isn’t dwelling on past disappointments.
From The L.A. Times:
“Every disappointment I’ve ever had has made me so much stronger and so much better. I wouldn’t be the person I am now, I wouldn’t appreciate what I’m doing right now as much as I do if I didn’t have those ups and downs of not making the team, of breaking my foot, of feeling like I’ve come up short.”
He was shaky during the six-minute warmup but coaxed himself to relax. “I said, ‘Girl, you tight,’” he recalled. It worked, putting him in position to become one of the few openly gay figure skaters to compete at the Olympics.
He joked that being a gay athlete is “exactly like being a straight athlete, only with better eyebrows,” but he’s serious about being a role model to kids because he never had one.
“I think sharing my story has made me a better competitor because I don’t really care what other people think of me. I’m able to go out there and I’m really able to be unabashedly myself. And I love myself,” he said. “When I’m able to go out there and just really be me, I’m able to put my hard work forward and I want somebody who’s young, who’s struggling, who’s not sure if it’s OK if they are themselves, to know that it’s OK that there are so many people out there who have the same worries. …If you set your mind to something, you can truly do anything.”
The men’s free skate competition is on Saturday.
Watch Rippin’s short program below.