Out figure skater Adam Rippon kept his final competitive skate of the 2018 Winter Olympics clean and simple, finishing among the top 10 for skaters competing at the games in PyeongChang. Performing the same free skate routine that helped the Americans win bronze in the figure skating team event earlier this week, he chose artistry over athletic insanity and became the highest scoring competitor in the men’s singles not to include any quad jumps in his routine, even though that meant finishing well short of the podium. Still, the crowds in Korea cheered Rippon’s skate as he finished his last competitive event and openly shed tears of joy.
“The Olympics are about a whole lot more than just medals,” said NBC broadcaster Johnny Weir, an out retired skater, “and Adam Rippon has proved that.”
That’s not to say his routine had no flourish. Rippon landed seven triples over the span of a few minutes, and executed three signature spinning routines as he captivated a crowd to the music of Coldplay. He ultimately tallied an 87.47 technical component score and a 171.41 the overall free skate. That’s lower than the 172.98 score he achieved with the same routine in the team event.
— NBC Olympics (@NBCOlympics) February 17, 2018
At 28, Rippon was the oldest men’s singles competitor on Team USA this year, and while Rippon far outperformed compatriots Nathan Chen and Vincent Zhou in the short program the previous night, the two 17-year-old athletes both scored very high in their free skates. Chen landed five of six quads in his routine, for a free skate score of 215.08, while Zhou (who skated a routine choreographed by out skater Jeff Buttle) landed four of five quads, earning a 192.16. But Olympic scoring right now awards attempts at quads with a high component score, so even though Rippon was the only American who did not fall during his routine, he quickly slipped behind his U.S. teammates.
At the end of the night, no American made the podium for the second Olympics in a row. Chen finished 5th, Zhou 6th and Rippon 10th. By night’s end, Japanese skaters Juzuru Hanyu and Shoma Uno won gold and silver, and Spanish skater Javier Fernandez secured bronze.
Still, Rippon’s beautiful, clean routines and outspoken political actions this year won Rippon more media attention than his peers, and his name was again the top trending term on Twitter after his routine, as it has been after each skate in the Olympic games.
Tonight, other out Olympians came to Gangneung Ice Arena to cheer on Rippon, including fellow American Gus Kenworthy, a freestyle skier.
I don't fully understand figure skating judging so I can't really speculate on the scoring but @Adaripp's performance was truly mesmerizing. You're #1 in our hearts, Adam! So proud of you and inspired by you.
— Gus Kenworthy (@guskenworthy) February 17, 2018
And he won the support of Saturday Night Live star Leslie Jones, in Korea as part of NBC’s coverage, though she focused on his outfit choice as much as his jumps. Rippon wore his now iconic blue rhinestone leotard — and sexual orientation — more than his triples.. “Good job gayby, good job baby,” Jones said in a Twitter video.
In other LGBT skating news, out Belgian skater Jorik Hendrickx finished in 14th place after scoring 164.21 in the free skate for a total score of 248.95. The Belgium National Champion will stick in Korea now to watch his sister Loena Hendrickx compete in ladies’ singles.