Adam Rippon, the First Openly Gay Athlete to Qualify for Winter Olympics in South Korea, Sits Down with ‘Passport’

At 1 A.M. on January 7, 2018, Adam Rippon became the first openly gay athlete to qualify for the Winter Olympics. News has also been buzzing about his outspoken refusal to meet Mike Pence in Pyeongchang, and his “100% real butt,” but we think that the best way to get to really know a person is through their travels—and Adam has traveled a lot. First winning the World Junior Championships in 2008, Adam has been representing the United States in international figure-skating competitions for over ten years. “I very, very rarely travel for pleasure. It’s always to go and work at a rink and teach for a bit, performing in a show, or going for a competition.” You don’t get to become an Olympian by laying out by the pool all day, though every once in a while, we do get a lucky glimpse of Adam lounging shirtless by the beach (Instagram: @adaripp).

Adam went to grade school in the Scranton, Pennsylvania area, but since the age 15 he’s been living away from home while training. At 15, he moved to Philadelphia to live full-time with his coach, and then he moved to Detroit, Toronto, and Milan. He now calls South Bay, LA home and tells us that all these moves were “100% coach-and-training decisions.”

Clearly, Adam is dedicated to his skating, and he makes all the right commitments to succeed, but in a sport that is judged subjectively, it is still rare, brave, and risky for male figure skaters to come out. In 2015 when Adam opened up publicly, he was one of the first national-level competitors to do so. (Johnny Weir did not publicly come out until after his last Olympic performance.)

Passport correspondent Allister Chang had an exclusive opportunity to speak with Adam about his travels. Here are the excerpts and highlights of that conversation.

What is your favorite travel destination?

Nagoya, Japan. It’s a great place to skate, and the OCD in me is so satisfied by the organization and cleanliness there. Everyone has special little bags for keys or three pencils. Nagoya is really beautiful. It’s a lot smaller than Tokyo and not at all the same experience. In Nagoya, I popped into some random dance class. I couldn’t read the schedule, and they didn’t speak English, but I just started dancing and loved it. The street dance culture in Japan is amazing. At night, all these dancers come and bring their own boom boxes and just dance. When you’re a foreigner, they’re always really friendly.

Keep reading over at Passport magazine online…

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