Catching up with Adam Rippon
Sitting down recently with American 2 time Junior World Champion and 2010 Four Continents Champion, Adam Rippon, I was delighted to find an intelligent, thoughtful young man with a wonderful sense of humour. He told me about trying skating once when he was 8 and again at 9 and “retiring” each time. It wasn’t until he received group lessons for his birthday in the Fall that he turned 10 that figure skating “stuck.” With pasion and single minded determination as his drving force, his mother eventually secured keys to the arena building so that Adam could have the access to the ice when he needed to. I am even more impressed by a Mom who was able to balance the needs ot a demanding and talented skater’s schedule with that of his 5 younger siblings!!
Adam has had some great support along the way and credits first coach Yelena Sergeva with great basics and a satisfying mentor relationship with current coach Brian Orser, whose guidance he sought in moving to Toronto to train in 2008.
Before our interview, I watched him skate and was drawn by the elegant simplicity and beauty of his line and his unbelievable speed. I saw him run through this year’s short program to Romeo and Juliet choreographed by David Wilson and Sebastien Britten. He says that “it was quite an experience” on the ice with David and Sebastien in which their passion for skating came through and was passed from one skating generation to the next. Adam says: “I’ve always felt the music and had a connection – the biggest thing was to harness it and use it in the right way.” Capitalizing on his musicality, the team has chosen Rachmaninoff’s 2nd Piano Concerto for the Free program,.
I watched as Adam stay upright on the landings of all of the Quad Toes that he attempted. They are a work in progress and he says:. “The Quad is just one more element that I can add to my score. I have never understood the hype – it’s important to have but more important to skate well.”
Not knowing much about him personally, I was reminded of a young John Curry as I watched Adam skate. The same grace, elegance and attention to physical detail that I had seen in ( the late) 1976 Olympic Champion Curry’s skating when he skated on this same ice surface in Toronto one summer about 20 years before Adam was born. John Curry is one of Adam’s idols and in fact would like to one day have his own large, well-produced skating show and tour featuring the very best skaters like Curry had done. Although John reportedly didn’t like to compete and Adam does, the pursuit of a World or Oylmpic title to facilitate this dream is the same for both men and is a source of Adam’s inspiration. In hearing that he was on the same ice surface where John Curry had once skated, Adam said with a smile: “It makes sense on a spiritual level that I am drawn here.”
Our conversation naturally flowed from one subject to the next and I was interested to hear his idea of having a GOE scale of -5 to +5, especially for men’s footwork and ladies’ spiral sequences, that could more accurately reflect what the skaters do. He is conscious of those skaters coming before him and admires the confidence with which Olympic Champions Evan (Lysacek), Evgeni (Plushenko) and Alexei (Yagudin) skate. He has taken in the way they reach up and connect with the audience and the fact that no matter how they skate “you believe what they are selling.”
He counts clean short and free programs at every outing this season among his goals. He says that being technically sound at GPs in Canada and the US as well as the Japan Open is required to allow his skating to come across. In describing himself: “Fun-loving, hard-working and passionate – I’m a person who loves what they do.” It shows.