Adam Rippon and Mirai Nagasu spent much of the 2014 Olympic Games together. The Games took place in Sochi, Russia. Only Rippon and Nagasu weren’t there.
They instead remained in the United States, eating In-N-Out, that bastion of Southern California comfort food, there to salve the emotional wounds of being snubbed from the 2014 U.S. figure skating team.
There is no need for the comfort food this year. Not in 2018, when Rippon and Nagasu became trending topics during a single event, Rippon for his flawless, panache- and sass-filled skate, Nagasu for becoming the first American woman to ever land a triple axel in an Olympics.
It’s a moment that has been a long time coming for Rippon. It’s been 15 years since Rippon told a local news station in Scranton, Pennsylvania that he had designs on becoming an Olympic figure skater. Sports Illustrated dug up a video of the newscast, in which a 13-year-old Rippon discusses his first train ride to Luxembourg, landing his first triple axel in competition, and, among other things, a visit to the Olympic museum, the impetus for his Olympic aspirations.
“When you see all these things that other people who won the Olympics and everything you think you’ve done a great thing but really you’re so far away,” young Rippon said.
Rippon is no longer so far away, but directly in the heart of these Olympics, both for his skating and being the first openly gay American Winter Olympian. His social cause, he knows, is much of the reason he has been so widely discussed in these 2018 Games — but it’s not only about that. In some cases, it’s hardly about that.
It’s about being an Olympian, about accomplishing a childhood dream.
“Work hard,” Rippon told Yahoo Sports’ Dan Wetzel. “Set goals. I’ve had the best skates of my career because I’ve let go of those doubts. I’ve finally gotten out of my own way, and I am here at the Olympics.
“I am actually an Olympian. They have footage. They can pull it up. Let the record show Adam Rippon is an Olympian.”
More Olympic coverage from Yahoo Sports:
• Now finally an Olympian, Adam Rippon hope reach extends beyond gay community
• How Jamie Anderson beat the wind to win Olympic gold
• How Russia’s Olympic fans are making a mockery of the IOC
• The NHL’s best (Zamboni drivers) are in PyeongChang, no matter what people tell you
• Polish luger loses protective visor, makes run anyway