Abington Journal

Clarks Summit native Adam Rippon helps U.S. team earn medal in figure skating

Kelly Rippon has been touched by the show of support, from both near and far, for her son Adam as he competes in his first Olympic Games.

A Clarks Summit native, Adam helped the United States earn a bronze medal in the team figure skating event Monday.

Although Kelly is attending the Olympics in South Korea, she has been kept in the loop regarding the excitement in the Abingtons as a result of Adam’s success.

“I would love to thank my daughter, Dagny’s former Abington Heights High School cheerleading coach (Tia Molnar) for organizing the community spirit,” Kelly said via Twitter. “It was very special to receive photos, messages and videos from Our Lady of Peace School, where Adam attended elementary school, Abington Heights High School and the people of the Abington and Scranton communities. Their hometown love helped connect the family here with me in Korea with those that were not able to attend. I appreciate the kindness very much.”

Kelly was overjoyed to be in the building to witness Adam’s Olympic debut.

“It was thrilling to be there in person,” she said. “I am so happy that some of my children were able to come. We were all overcome with emotion and on our feet in his last spin before the final note of his program. We were screaming and joining the rest in attendance with a standing ovation.

“I have received so many congratulatory messages from people all over the world. It was a great day.”

Adam’s father, Rick Rippon, is a current resident of Clarks Summit Borough.

Redemption for United States duo

When Adam Rippon and Mirai Nagasu didn’t make the United States figure skating team for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, they hunkered down together on Nagasu’s roof and ate In-N-Out.

Fast-forward four years, and the pair are still hunkering down together.

But this time it’s in Pyeongchang. And they’re roommates. In the Olympic Village.

“We gave each other a hug and I said, ‘Mirai, we are here. We did it,’” the Clarks Summit native told NBC Sports’ Mike Tirico on Monday (Sunday night in Pennsylvania). “We both went out there and had great skates today, to do that for our team. It was so amazing.”

Together, Rippon and Nagasu shined as they kept the United States alive during Monday’s portion of the figure skating team event.

Rippon went first, skating in the men’s single free-skating portion of the team event. He finished third with a 172.98 to keep the U.S. in third overall heading into the final two events — Nagasu’s ladies single free-skating portion and the ice dancing free dance.

Even with a third-place skate, Rippon became the top-trending topic on Twitter during the event and drew rave reviews from NBC Sports figure skating analysts Johnny Weir and Tara Lipinski.

“It’s been different. I’ve been waiting 28 years to get out there, and let me tell you it was worth the wait,” Rippon said. “I kept it together and I took it one element at a time. And to see my friend go out there and perform great was even better.”

After Nagasu learned she scored a 137.53, which would be good enough for second, Rippon could be seen celebrating his friend’s accomplishment.

“I’ve known her for more than 10 years,” Rippon said. “To see everything she’s gone through, I almost started crying. I love my girl. I’m so proud of her tonight.”

Rippon fully committed himself to reaching this point six years ago — two years after being selected as an alternate for the Vancouver Games — when he dropped everything and moved to Los Angeles to start training with famed figure skating coach Rafael Arutyunyan.

Slowly, but surely Rippon, started to reap the benefits.

While he didn’t qualify for the Sochi Games, he began to make strides. Rippon won the national title and finished sixth at the World Championships in 2016 and took fifth and sixth in the ISU Grand Prix Final in 2017 and 2016, respectively.

“I had no money,” Rippon told NBC Sports figure skating and gymnastics reporter Andrea Joyce after his skate during the team event. “I lived in Rafael’s basement. I had enough money to have a gym membership. I would steal all the apples because I had no money for groceries. Six years later, I’m here. I’m here at the Olympics.”

Now that Rippon has his Olympic sea legs under him and his first medal in his pocket, he can shift his focus to the individual competition.

He will be back on the ice Friday morning (Thursday evening in Pennsylvania) for the men’s singles short program and then the following day for the free skate.

“I’ve worked my entire life for this moment. More than that, my mom always taught me to stand up for what I believe in and that has given my skating more purpose,” Adam Rippon said. “I go out there; I’m not only representing myself but my coaches, my country, and my teammates — and that’s how I stay focused.”

Adam Rippon of the United States reacts with teammates as he receives his score following his performance in the men’s single skating free skating in the Gangneung Ice Arena at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Gangneung, South Korea, Monday, Feb. 12, 2018.
https://www.theabingtonjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/web1_ABJ-Rippon-1-1.jpgAdam Rippon of the United States reacts with teammates as he receives his score following his performance in the men’s single skating free skating in the Gangneung Ice Arena at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Gangneung, South Korea, Monday, Feb. 12, 2018. AP Photo/David J. Phillip
Adam Rippon of the United States performs in the men’s single skating free skating in the Gangneung Ice Arena at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Gangneung, South Korea, Monday, Feb. 12, 2018.
https://www.theabingtonjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/web1_ABJ-Rippon-2-1.jpgAdam Rippon of the United States performs in the men’s single skating free skating in the Gangneung Ice Arena at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Gangneung, South Korea, Monday, Feb. 12, 2018. Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press via AP
Members of Adam Rippon’s family at the medal ceremony after the United States team earned bronze in the team figure skating event. From left, Kelly Rippon, Adam’s mother; Brady Rippon, Adam’s brother; and Dagny Rippon, Adam’s sister.
https://www.theabingtonjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/web1_ABJ-Rippon-3-1.jpgMembers of Adam Rippon’s family at the medal ceremony after the United States team earned bronze in the team figure skating event. From left, Kelly Rippon, Adam’s mother; Brady Rippon, Adam’s brother; and Dagny Rippon, Adam’s sister. Submitted photos
Clarks Summit native Adam Rippon and his mother Kelly posed for a photo with Adam’s bronze medal following his Today Show interview.
https://www.theabingtonjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/web1_ABJ-Rippon-5-1.jpgClarks Summit native Adam Rippon and his mother Kelly posed for a photo with Adam’s bronze medal following his Today Show interview. Submitted photos
Clarks Summit native Adam Rippon posed for a photo with two of his siblings following his Today Show interview. From left, Dagny Rippon, Adam’s sister; Adam Rippon (with his bronze medal); and Brady Rippon, Adam’s brother.
https://www.theabingtonjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/web1_ABJ-Rippon-4-1.jpgClarks Summit native Adam Rippon posed for a photo with two of his siblings following his Today Show interview. From left, Dagny Rippon, Adam’s sister; Adam Rippon (with his bronze medal); and Brady Rippon, Adam’s brother. Submitted photos

By Robert Tomkavage

rtomkavage@timesleader.com

ADAM RIPPON’S SCHEDULE

Thursday — Men’s Short Program, 8 p.m.

Friday — Men’s Free Skate, 8 p.m.

ON TV

Thursday

NBC

8 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. — Figure Skating: Men’s Short Program (LIVE); Snowboard Cross: Women’s Gold Medal Final (LIVE); Skeleton: Men’s Gold Medal Final Runs (LIVE); Freestyle Skiing: Women’s Aerials; Cross Country: Women’s 10km Gold Medal Final

NBCSN

7 to 11 p.m. — Figure Skating: Men’s Short Program (LIVE)

Friday

NBC

8 p.m. to Midnight — Figure Skating: Men’s Gold Medal Final (LIVE); Alpine Skiing: Women’s Super G Gold Medal Final (LIVE); Freestyle Skiing: Women’s Aerials Gold Medal Final; Women’s Skeleton

DJ Eberle, a Times Leader Media Group sportswriter, contributed to this story.