Adam Rippon: ‘I don’t want my Olympic experience being about Mike Pence’

Being gay and having disdain for Mike Pence.

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Those are two things that have been central to a lot of the coverage of U.S. Olympic figure skater Adam Rippon, while he competes at the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

After all, the Scranton, Pennsylvania native has been outspoken about the Vice President’s record on LGBT issues while he was the governor of Indiana. Rippon and skier Gus Kenworthy are the first openly gay U.S. athletes to compete at the Winter Olympics.

But for Rippon, 28, it’s being a role model for LGBT youth back home that’s important to him — not making his time at the games about a lawmaker he vehemently opposes.

Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press via AP
Adam Rippon of the United States reacts after 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.

“I have no problem talking about what I’ve said because I stand by it, but I think right now the Olympics are about Olympic competition and the athletes involved,” Rippon, who won a bronze Sunday, said at a press conference Tuesday. “I don’t want it to distract from them, and I don’t want my Olympic experience to be about Mike Pence. I want it to be about my amazing skating and being America’s sweetheart.”

The Rippon-Pence saga kicked off last month when Rippon told USA Today of the vice president’s involvement with the Olympics, “You mean Mike Pence, the same Mike Pence that funded gay conversion therapy? I’m not buying it.”

In a 2000 statement on his congressional campaign website, Pence said, “Resources should be directed toward those institutions which provide assistance to those seeking to change their sexual behavior.” During the 2016 election campaign, however, Pence’s spokesman said he does not support the concept.


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