Home Archive Photos Slideshows Database


Rippon Looking to Take Olympic Team Spot in Boston

by Liz Leamy and Andrea Vaz

Determined to make impact at U.S. Championships

Adam Rippon, 24, the 2012 U.S. silver medalist and two-time World Junior champion known for his fluid artistry and excellent jump technique, seems to bound and determined to stake his claim as one of America’s finest at the U.S. Championships in Boston this week and could very well generate a memorable Cinderella story at this Olympic-qualifying event if all goes accordingly.

This Scranton, Pennsylvania native, the oldest of six children, soared to domestic skating stardom back in 2008 when he scored the U.S. junior title and his first junior world gold medal.

Deigned to one of the sport’s rising stars during his junior reign, Rippon wound up facing some challenging impasses since that time. Aside from facing the Herculean task of getting a triple Axel, Rippon had also dealt with searching for the right coach/student situation and had changed pros four times. Meanwhile, he had placed fifth at the 2010, 2011 and 2013 U.S. Championships.

Known to have some of the best jumps in the business, (Michelle Kwan, the iconic nine-time U.S. champion said she was ‘blown away’ by his technical abilities last December), Rippon at this stage, seems to be anything but deterred by these challenges and appears to be more determined than ever to prove himself as the star he was predicted to be this week in Boston.

“It’s not over til it’s over and every moment counts,” said Rippon in a conference call last Friday. “I’m training well, I’m prepared and I’m excited to compete, this could be my U.S. title.”

Certainly, it seems likely that Rippon could perhaps make good on his prediction, especially in considering his stellar results during the fall International Skating Union Grand Prix competition series. Last October, he scored silver at Skate America and was fourth at the NHK Trophy in November.

“Skate America gave me confidence that has carried over but has also kept me hungry for more success,” said Rippon, who trains with Rafael Artunian at the East West Ice Palace in Artesia, California, partially owned by the Kwan family.

Based upon his competitive history, it seems as though Rippon has always thrived in being in an underdog role. Although he was a standout contender at the lower juvenile and intermediate ranks, he never achieved national podium status until the novice level when he clinched second at the 2005 U.S. Championships.

The following season in 2006, he wound up 11th in the junior division at Nationals and then placed sixth in that same category in 2007.

The following season, in 2008, Rippon had a breakout season largely due to the expertise of Nikolai Morozov, the Olympic and World coach who at that time, worked at the Ice House in Hackensack, New Jersey and with who he had started training in 2007. (Morozov has since relocated to Russia, where he has been helping his country’s top contenders prepare for the Sochi Olympics.)

At this point, Rippon could execute every triple through the Lutz in textbook-like style, but still had not mastered the triple Axel.

Over the next few seasons, Rippon worked dogmatically to get a clean and consistent triple Axel, but as for any elite skater, this was no easy feat. Still, he managed to get the jump, which is one of his strongest elements in his programs.

In late 2008, Rippon left Morozov in order to work with Brian Orser, the illustrious 1984 and 1988 Canadian Olympic silver medalist and coach of Yuna Kim, the 2010 Korean Olympic champion, who is based at the Toronto Cricket Club in Canada.

Although Rippon’s relationship with Orser was productive, the two decided to part ways and in 2011, Rippon relocated to Detroit in order to train with Jason Dungjen.

Under Dungjen’s watch, Rippon scored the U.S. silver medal in 2012, but made the decision to leave Detroit the following September in order to work with Artunian, the California-based coach who had worked with Michelle Kwan toward the end of her competitive career.

Since they’ve been together, Rippon’s relationship with Artunian has been effective. Artunian, reputed to be strict and steadfast, has been adamant to make sure Rippon is focused and present in regard to everything he does out on the ice, an approach that has helped him with his consistency and confidence.

“I am focusing on one thing at a time,” said Rippon, who is skating to ‘Carmen’ for his short and ‘Prelude to an Afternoon of a Faun’ for his long program.

Rippon is also adamant to credit Wagner, his training colleague and best friend, for his renewed strength and confidence.

“Ashley and I are incredibly close, she is a secret weapon for me,” he said. “I’m incredibly lucky to skate with her everyday, it’s like we’re yin and yang [for each other.]”

At the end of the day, Rippon’s primary goal at this year’s Nationals, however, is to inspire people through his skating.

“To get [people] excited to go out to a public session and try [skating is what I want to do]”, he said. “The best skater can make anything look easy and if a fan can come away and think it’s easy, you’ve done a good job.”

Return to title page