Reigning U.S. champion Adam Rippon will miss next week’s national championships due to a broken left foot that will keep him out the rest of the season.
Rippon said he heard a crunch landing on his left foot in a warm-up Friday. An MRI revealed a fractured metatarsal and a sprained ankle that will keep him off the ice for eight to 12 weeks. He is wearing a boot but doesn’t expect to require surgery.
“This injury isn’t career-ending, and it’s very low on the spectrum of severity of injuries that people have come back from,” said Rippon, who won his first U.S. title last year at age 26. “I won’t take this lying down, which is, ironically, exactly what I’m doing right now.”
In Rippon’s absence, the overwhelming U.S. Championships favorite is Nathan Chen, who at 17 is trying to become the youngest U.S. men’s champion since Scott Allen in 1966.
Chen, a training partner of Rippon, took silver at the Grand Prix Final in December, becoming the first U.S. man to earn a medal at that prestigious international event since 2009.
Rippon will now have to watch the world championships in March, hoping that the two U.S. men combine to have finishes of 13 or better. For example, a sixth- and seventh-place finish.
That would ensure three U.S. men’s spots at the PyeongChang Olympics. If the two U.S. men at worlds’ results are more than 13, the U.S. will only get two men in PyeongChang, making it significantly harder for Rippon (and every other U.S. man) to make the Olympic team next year.
“When I was sitting on the bench near the rink immediately after I broke my foot, my first thought was, like, this is my story, I will be at the Olympics,” Rippon said. “I am positive and optimistic because I refuse to give myself another option. I’ve always grown from situations others might see as a setback, and I don’t think that this will be any different. I’m going to grow. I’m going to push forward, and I’ll use this to be the best version of myself as an athlete 12 months from now.”
Rippon was the second-best U.S. skater in the fall and the No. 6 skater in the world overall. For the first time in eight senior seasons, Rippon earned medals in both of his Grand Prix starts and qualified for his first Grand Prix Final, where he finished sixth of six skaters.
The other top contenders to make the podium at the U.S. Championships include 2013 U.S. champion Max Aaron and 2015 U.S. champion Jason Brown.
The worlds team of two men will be announced after the U.S. Championships conclude Jan. 22.Follow @nzaccardi