LGBTQ sports news site Outsports has named out Olympian Adam Rippon as their “Person of the Year,” and we couldn’t agree more.
While Rippon has been a fixture on the U.S. figure skating scene for years (two second place finishes in the U.S. championships plus taking the title in 2016), it wasn’t until this year’s Winter Olympic Games in South Korea that he captured the world's full attention (and hearts) as he became the first openly gay man to qualify for the US in the Winter Olympics.
An immediate sensation in Pyeongchang (and self-dubbed “America’s sweetheart”), Rippon brought not only his considerable athletic prowess to bear, helping our American skaters bring home a bronze medal in the team skating event, but his ebullient and winning personality has now made him a household name.
In addition to wowing America with his medal-winning free skate in the team competition at the Winter Olympics, this year Rippon won Dancing With The Stars, stirred political conversation around LGBTQ rights and the White House, worked the red carpet at the Oscars, acted in an episode of Will & Grace, was a guest on seemingly countless news and talk shows, and most recently returned to the ice for a Christmas TV special. He’s been on numerous “best-of” lists recapping the year. Oh, and did we mention he danced with Elmo and sang his own rendition of a Rihanna hit before skating to it?
In their article, Outsports recounts how a straight editor from SB Nation sent this message back to the states during the Games in South Korea after meeting the then-28-year-old skater: “I think I love Adam Rippon.”
Rippon told Outsports this week that he looks back on 2018 with an immense sense of pride.
“Winning is a huge part of sports, and medaling is incredible, it’s amazing,” the effusive skater told the sports site. “But the point of sports is to go into the gym or onto the ice every day and better yourself. That’s the whole point of life. I’m able to look at my sports career and be proud of it, because I got the real point of it all.”
And after 20 years chasing one goal – gold on the ice, Rippon says this year will stand out for him for a long time for “leaping into the unknown.”
“I’ve had the chance to try so many different things, and I’ve never done this stuff before, so it’s been a little scary,” he shares.
Scary, perhaps, but Rippon has faced down many fears and challenges in his life.
From coming out in 2015 to working through an injury that kept him from defending his national title to embracing the Olympic Games as his authentic self both on and off the ice.
That authenticity has led to some of his most memorable moments in 2018.
He shares with Outsports the aftermath of a chat he had with a young girl who ran up to him as he was finishing an appearance. She was wearing a rainbow pin.
After speaking with her for a few minutes, she headed off. But, her mother soon stepped up to Rippon with tears in her eyes.
The mother shared that the girl had recently come out, and in doing so said seeing Rippon compete at the Olympics in Pyeongchang was “the first time she saw herself in someone else, and it completely changed her world.”
Outsports’ ‘Person of the Year’ explained, ”I get emotional talking about it now because I can’t believe something I feel like I did for myself was able to help somebody else so much.”
Whether it was courage to conquer the ice, the red carpet or the dance floor, Rippon has inspired many of us with charm and self-deprecating wit.
Having announced his retirement from competitive skating last month, Rippon has several projects in the works including a book deal.
“I’ll always be an athlete at heart, but I’ve also always felt I was an entertainer,” says Rippon. “I love making people laugh. So being able to do something that’s always been a dream of mine, I feel like that’s my true calling.”