Self-proclaimed 'icon' Adam Rippon takes final Olympic skate

GANGNEUNG, South Korea (AP) — Adam Rippon put his hands over his face and let the cheers wash over. He waved and s...

Posted: Feb 18, 2018 2:29 AM
Updated: Feb 18, 2018 2:29 AM

GANGNEUNG, South Korea (AP) — Adam Rippon put his hands over his face and let the cheers wash over. He waved and smiled, and when the crowd kept clapping, he jumped where he stood and swung his arms to egg them on.

Ever the showman, and with his trademark grace and flair, Rippon took his final skate of the Pyeongchang Olympics on Saturday. He finished 10th, a fine result for a 28-year-old who was never expected to medal against a field populated by younger, higher-flying competition.

The self-proclaimed "icon" didn't need that hardware to leave his mark on these games.

Or for the Olympics to leave its mark on him.

"They usually say that like, after the Olympic Games, somebody's life changes forever," Rippon said. "A lot of times it's the gold medalist, but I have a feeling that my life has changed forever."

Rippon has been the headline-grabbing darling of the Pyeongchang Games, a status earned in part with his near-flawless skating, but even more with his efforts off the ice.

He and skier Gus Kenworthy are America's only two openly gay male athletes, and they've flaunted their LGBT pride on social media throughout the Olympics. Kenworthy and his boyfriend were in the stands to watch Rippon on Saturday, waving an American flag with rainbow patterning in place of red and white stripes. Rippon said he plans to watch Kenworthy compete, too.

Rippon's path to Pyeongchang included a public spat with Vice President Mike Pence, whom the LGBT community considers an opponent for signing the Religious Freedom Restoration Act in March 2015 as Indiana's governor. Critics said the legislation encouraged discrimination against gay people. An amendment with protections for the LGBT community was passed a week later.

Rippon criticized the White House in January for choosing Pence to lead its official delegation for the opening ceremony. When a USA Today report said Pence was hoping to sit down with Rippon, the figure skater said he had no interest in meeting with Pence until at least after the games.

The "brouhaha" — Rippon's word — mostly dissipated as Rippon made his Olympic debut. He helped the Americans win a bronze medal in the team event, then put on a pair of clean skates in the individual competition.

All the while, he charmed away during interviews with his striking ease and wit. His personality — he proudly told The Associated Press in November he's "a little trashy, but really fun" — cemented his Olympic stardom, catching attention from stars including Reese Witherspoon and Elmo.

How does he feel about that?

"Well, you know, on the spectrum from Reese Witherspoon to Elmo, I'm like excited at about, like, a Meryl Streep," he told NBC this week. "Does that make sense?"

Those around him say the buzzy one-liners aren't an act. Fellow American skater Ashley Wagner said this week that "he's like this 24/7. It's exhausting."

A taste of Rippon's best work just from Saturday:

—On his plans for the rest of the Olympics: "I'm probably going to have like a stiff drink later."

—On the Olympic spotlight: "Sometimes I just get attention, and I really don't know how it happens."

—On his legacy: "You know, I'm not like a gay icon, or America's gay sweetheart. I'm just America's sweetheart and I'm just an icon."

Certainly, this month has opened doors for Rippon. He wouldn't say for sure Saturday that he's ready to retire from competition, but at 28, he seems unlikely to keep going much longer.

He'd be a hit on television — perhaps following in the footsteps of fellow American skating star Johnny Weir, now a personality on NBC who helps host figure skating and Kentucky Derby coverage. There's no doubt that if Rippon wants, he can parlay his celebrity into some sort of public post-skating career.

With what he showed in South Korea, it'd be surprising if he doesn't want that.

He's given the world a taste of himself, and even after he's done skating, it's going to want more.

"I think I've shown the world that I'm a fierce competitor," he said. "But I think I've shown them that I'm also a fierce human being."

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 250869

Reported Deaths: 5481
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto17010171
Hinds16091318
Harrison13250193
Rankin10629208
Jackson10216182
Lee8759141
Madison8186161
Jones6222109
Forrest5917118
Lauderdale5808180
Lowndes5309111
Lafayette491192
Lamar480465
Washington4770123
Bolivar3955106
Oktibbeha390380
Panola365076
Pontotoc361152
Monroe3521104
Warren344597
Union341458
Marshall339165
Neshoba3357152
Pearl River323295
Leflore2992105
Lincoln295685
Sunflower280469
Tate269560
Alcorn262653
Itawamba261159
Hancock260458
Pike259977
Scott244745
Prentiss244052
Yazoo242654
Tippah239749
Copiah239149
Simpson233967
Leake229564
Coahoma228554
Grenada217070
Covington210471
Marion208371
Adams203270
Winston199464
Wayne198730
George197938
Attala193158
Newton189142
Chickasaw182944
Tishomingo182159
Holmes168167
Jasper167735
Clay158233
Stone141520
Tallahatchie139234
Clarke137460
Calhoun135121
Smith119423
Yalobusha116134
Walthall111736
Noxubee110222
Greene109129
Montgomery109134
Carroll104121
Lawrence102117
Perry100531
Amite96825
Webster91924
Tunica86021
Claiborne85525
Jefferson Davis84025
Humphreys82624
Benton81023
Kemper76620
Quitman6838
Franklin65815
Choctaw60013
Wilkinson58325
Jefferson53419
Sharkey42417
Issaquena1596
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 420681

Reported Deaths: 6119
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson61755921
Mobile30058548
Madison26852186
Tuscaloosa20652266
Montgomery18876305
Shelby18421114
Baldwin16176182
Lee12393101
Morgan12175113
Etowah11687168
Calhoun11078200
Marshall10158107
Houston8556148
Cullman7999105
Limestone796274
Elmore7783101
DeKalb767197
Lauderdale752883
St. Clair7502120
Talladega6145108
Walker5880174
Jackson578841
Colbert529873
Blount529283
Autauga515455
Coffee438156
Dale394381
Franklin365248
Chilton335365
Covington326968
Russell326810
Escambia316142
Dallas302896
Chambers281869
Clarke279633
Tallapoosa2607107
Pike247629
Marion244650
Lawrence242547
Winston225535
Bibb214447
Geneva199535
Marengo197829
Pickens196231
Hale175442
Barbour172336
Butler168458
Fayette167126
Cherokee160030
Henry152721
Monroe145017
Randolph138835
Washington137026
Clay126145
Crenshaw118644
Lamar117519
Cleburne117223
Macon114335
Lowndes109535
Wilcox102621
Bullock98728
Perry96919
Conecuh94220
Sumter88826
Greene75723
Coosa60515
Choctaw51224
Out of AL00
Unassigned00
Tupelo
Clear
45° wxIcon
Hi: 55° Lo: 32°
Feels Like: 45°
Columbus
Clear
44° wxIcon
Hi: 58° Lo: 31°
Feels Like: 42°
Oxford
Clear
36° wxIcon
Hi: 52° Lo: 31°
Feels Like: 32°
Starkville
Clear
43° wxIcon
Hi: 57° Lo: 30°
Feels Like: 43°
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather