PyeongChang 2018

9 Reasons Why Adam Rippon Is America’s Sweetheart

In less than a week, figure skater Adam Rippon has triple lutz-ed his way into the hearts of America and beyond. The openly gay 28-year-old dazzled in his Olympics debut, leading Team USA to a bronze medal early in the Games, but it's actually his behavior off the ice in PyeongChang that's helped earn him legions of new fans. Rippon's charming personality and sassy wit have been on full display during interviews and a press conferences, earning him the distinction of being one of the most quotable athletes in recent memory.

Ahead of his much-anticipated figure skating singles program on Thursday night (Friday, South Korea-time), it only seems right to tick off some of the reasons why everyone is suddenly enamored with the talented skater.

He's 1,000% himself

Rippon is is the first openly gay American male athlete to qualify for the Winter Olympics (skier Gus Kenworthy didn't come out as gay until 2015, after his first Olympics in Sochi).

He'll tell you what's what, girl

Before Rippon even arrived in PyeongChang, he made waves when he spoke out about the decision to have Vice President Mike Pence lead the United States delegation to the Games in an interview with USA Today Sports. He criticized the choice, citing a number of anti-gay positions Pence has taken over the years. The brouhaha spilled onto Twitter, where Rippon doubled down on his remarks, prompting an invite from the VP to meet face-to-face, which the skater reportedly declined.

And while it's clear Rippon doesn't regret speaking out, he does wish the story wasn't overshadowing his reason for being at the Olympics. In a press conference on Tuesday, he said as much. 

"I have no problem about what I've said because I stand by it, but I think right now the Olympics are about Olympic competition," he said. "It's brought a lot of attention to my other teammates and I don't want it to distract from them. I don't want my Olympic experience being about Mike Pence."

He's, like, a pretty decent skater

Of course, Rippon isn't at the Olympics just to ooze charisma and personality. He's there to, ya' know, skate. And hoo-boy, can he skate. If you caught his Olympic debut during the men's free skate, you know exactly what we mean.

He's very good at the internet

If you're enchanted by Rippon's on-camera wit, then you need to drop everything you're doing and follow him on Instagram and Twitter. In case you need convincing, below is a taste of the entertainment you're in for.

Wow! Still can’t believe that I invented the tank top.

A post shared by Adam Rippon (@adaripp) on

Me with the love of my life (myself)

A post shared by Adam Rippon (@adaripp) on

He's the kind of friend you can eat a burger with while crying 

If you peruse Rippon's social media accounts, you're likely to spot fellow skaters Ashley Wagner and Mirai Nagasu quite a bit. Wagner is his longtime training partner and best friend, and he and Nagasu have shared some trying times together. Rippon recently revealed that he and Nagasu once commiserated over both failing to make the 2014 Olympic Team by housing some In-N-Out Burger while crying on her roof. He also told Yahoo! Sports that they got matching tattoos in honor of the tough time they shared.

He will put on a talent show whenever he damn well pleases

To mix things up, Rippon has skated while performing his own version Rihanna's "Diamonds" on quite a few occasions. And frankly, he's got some pretty decent pipes.

He has very relatable cravings

The notion of competing at the Olympic level where the stakes are not only sky high but you're also being watched by literally billions of people around the world is a bit unnerving to say the least. It's even enough to rattle the nerves of someone like Rippon, who exudes confidence. Speaking to NBC's Mike Tirico following his men's free skate program on Sunday, Rippon made clear he's a lot like most of us would be under such pressure, itching for a drink and a Xanax.

He appreciates the elegance of thoughtful design

In a minute-long series of Instagram stories posted on Sunday, Rippon dramatically voiced his disappointment with the Olympic condoms (110,000 were delivered to the Olympic Village in PyeongChang ahead of the Games). He was hoping they'd come in different colors or emblazoned with the Olympic rings, but alas, "it's all a myth," he said. "Life isn't always what it seems and sometimes the condoms are just generic." 

He's not afraid to admit past mistakes

Rippon's meticulously sculpted eyebrows are almost as famous as he is, and he knows it. He also owns the fact that they were once a bit much.

Check back during the games for all of Thrillist’s continuing Olympics coverage. Think of us like an all-knowing friend watching along with you to answer all the important questions, like how heavy are Olympic medals. We'll explain everything from curling rules and figure skating scoring to what OAR means, why winning athletes are receiving stuffed animals and much, much more.

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Joe McGauley is a senior writer for Thrillist. Follow him @jwmcgauley.