Last weekend, I was fortunate enough to be in San Jose taking photos for Outword Newsmagazine at the Prudential U.S. National Figure Skating Championships men's competition. I was specifically focusing on openly gay skater Adam Rippon. Adam came out two years ago to the figure skating and rest of the world. He became only the second male figure skater at the Championship level (Rudy Galindo being the first) to come out openly as a gay male while still competing.
Rippon nailed his short program, but fell seriously short on his freeskate. He still earned a 4th place pewter medal, but his presumed Winter Olympics berth next month in Pyeongchang, South Korea seemed to be in jeopardy. (Typically, the top three skaters are the ones chosen for the Olympic team, however the committee does have a selection criteria that is much broader than this one competition. Four years ago, Ashley Wagner, Rippon's very close friend, also placed 4th, but was still offered an Olympic berth based on her wider results on the international skating scene.)
This year, history did not repeat itself for Wagner, but it did for Rippon. Based on his solid skating international performances for the past two years, the organization bypassed Ross Miner (who took second in the competition overall after a wonderful freeskate) to add Rippon to the Olympic berths, by a vote of 11-1.
This meant that Rippon became the first openly gay male figure skater to be chosen to compete in the Winter Olympics. At 28, Rippon is sassy and smart (just check out his Twitter feed) and clearly at the top of his game after much hard work. He's an unusually experienced "rookie" to have on the Olympic team and I'll certainly be rooting for him!
Here are some of my images of Adam, available only for editorial use, due to the nature of my media credential. I will post the Outword story when it is published.