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Rippon finds balance of music and choreography

October 4, 2017
By CHRISTIE SAUSA - Correspondent , Lake Placid News

LAKE PLACID - On his way to the US Nationals and possibly the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, 2016 US champion Adam Rippon will bring his unique blend of athleticism and artistry to the Olympic Center at Skate America in November.

The men's event has always been considered one of the most exciting in figure skating, with powerful choreography and big jumps creating a special kind of hype. However, in recent years, there has been pressure on male skaters to create the same kind of magical connection with the audience and attention to style as other events do, in addition to performing the big jumps.

One of the skaters who seems to have mastered this is Rippon, who brings innate musicality to his performances while completing difficult elements, such as the "Rippon Lutz" in which he completes a triple lutz jump with both arms overhead.

Article Photos

Adam Rippon shows off his gold medal after winning the 2016 National Championships.
Photo provided

He is also one of the few men who can complete a high-quality layback spin, a challenging spin typically only seen in ladies competition. It is apparent from watching Rippon skate that he is one of a kind, his skating and persona bearing an individuality that is refreshing.

"I think I bring a unique style to the competitive field," Rippon said. "I like to skate to music choices that push the boundaries, and always love pushing all my limits."

The latest "limits" to be pushed in figure skating competition are quad jumps (skaters rotate four times in the air), which in today's competitive climate, seem to be essential in order to be in contention in men's singles competition.

While skaters were landing quads as early as 1988 in competition, they were outliers rather than the norm. Now the name of the game appears to be not just being able to land one, but several. Rippon has landed quad toe loops and lutzes in competition, although the latter has had errors in the past, and will no doubt be prepping these moves for competition this Olympic season.

Despite their prevalence, it's not always a "jumps game," as witnessed by Rippon's 2016 national title, which he won over Nathan Chen (also competing in this year's Skate America) and Max Aaron, while not landing a single quad (he attempted a quad lutz in the beginning of the program).

"It's not a jump competition; it's not a choreography competition, and it's not a spin competition," Rippon said in an Associated Press article after his win. "It takes a little bit of everything."

His win was earned not only by the eight triple jumps he landed, but by his excellent choreography and musical interpretation.

Rippon's recent music choices are certainly unique and perhaps the opposite of what many people expect in figure skating programs. He has skated to songs by Coldplay, Queen and the Beatles and to less-traditional genres such as electronic and alternative rock. This season he will perform to music from two well-known pop artists.

"I am skating to a Coldplay song, one of my favorite bands. I am also skating to a cover of Rihanna's 'Diamonds' that I sang myself," Rippon said. "I wanted to do something new and fresh!"

These crowd-pleasing performances are one of the reasons skating fans root for Rippon, who had competed in eight consecutive national championships before last season. Although he had to sit out much of last season due to injury, he remains positive about the experience.

"I was really happy with the beginning of last season. I qualified for my first Grand Prix final and landed my first quad in competition," Rippon said. "I broke my foot right before the US Championships, but I am feeling healthy and ready for this Olympic year."

Rippon is looking forward to competing in Skate America, one of the many elite competitions that lead toward the Olympics in February. Of course, the Olympics are at the top of his priority list.

"While I am at Skate America I will be focusing on skating my best, staying healthy and doing everything I can to be my best at US Champions and Olympics," Rippon said. "My goals this year are to compete in the team event at the Olympics and the singles event. I would love to bring home some hardware for Team USA."

Watch Adam Rippon and other Team USA skaters compete against an elite International field at Skate America, Nov. 24-26 in Lake Placid.

For more information, visit For tickets, order online or call the Olympic Center box office at518-523-3330.



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