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Adam Rippon’s broken foot provides new perspective on rest of career

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NEW YORK — Adam Rippon had plenty of time to think about his future while confined to a walking boot for 12 weeks this winter.

Rippon, who couldn’t defend his U.S. title this year due to a broken foot, is only more motivated to make his first Olympic team next year. And motivated to compete beyond 2018.

“If I can come away stronger from this, I can skate longer than I felt that I would be able to [before breaking the foot],” Rippon said while at the Rink at Rockefeller Center on Monday, two weeks after shedding the boot. “Going forward past this Olympic season, I think as long as I feel like I’m still competitive, still strong, still improving, I think there’s no reason why I shouldn’t continue.

“Before I had this, I was like, I’m going to go to the Olympics and then go on vacation.”

Rippon, 27, is the elder statesman of U.S. figure skating. He competed in eight straight U.S. Championships before sitting out this past season. PyeongChang appears to be his last realistic shot at an Olympic team.

To make it, he’ll have to come back from his first major injury. Rippon said he had never before taken more than a week or two off, only withdrawn once from more than 40 senior competitions in the last decade.

Rippon was the two-time reigning world junior champion going into the 2010 U.S. Championships, where he finished fifth. The field was pretty deep then, with past U.S. champions Evan LysacekJohnny Weir and Jeremy Abbott, and Rippon was still blooming.

It looked like 2014 would be Rippon’s year. He was the top U.S. man in the fall 2013 Grand Prix season but dropped to a career-worst eighth at nationals.

He continued on and won his first U.S. title last season. This season, before the broken foot, he qualified for December’s Grand Prix Final for the first time. That event takes the top six skaters in the world from the Grand Prix season.

While Rippon was sidelined in January, February and March, spending four hours per day in the gym, he saw the U.S. men’s depth chart get crowded.

Training partner Nathan Chen established himself as an overwhelming favorite to lead the three-man Olympic team, winning the U.S. title in January and the Four Continents crown in February.

Jason Brown, a Sochi Olympian and 2015 U.S. champion, came back from injuries to post a score at worlds in March that bettered Rippon’s personal best.

And Vincent Zhou, who was 8 years old when Rippon debuted at senior nationals, won the world junior title with three quadruple jumps in his free skate.

Brown and Rippon both won their U.S. titles without landing a single quad. Rippon isn’t committing to a set number of quads next season, but said he plans to work on flip, Lutz and toe loop once he’s allowed full-go on the ice in June.

If Zhou’s progression continues, Brown and Rippon may be left to vie for the third and final Olympic team spot come January.

“So many of those faces change, but to stay relevant, you always have to focus on yourself and keep pushing yourself,” Rippon said. “Because those new faces come and they go. Or, sometimes, they stay. Or sometimes they’re your rival. Or sometimes they’re only here for one year.”

Rippon could look at his injury as a setback. Or, he could take the mindset of longtime friend and training partner Ashley Wagner, who just completed her least successful season since 2011.

“She has a four-year plan, kind of like I do,” Rippon said. “So when I broke my foot, I didn’t feel discouraged. When she had the skates that she did [seventh place at worlds after silver in 2016], she didn’t feel discouraged. She’s looking at the big picture. She has a great resumé, and I feel like I have a strong resumé, too, going into next season, and that’s what matters.”

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Tokyo Paralympic medals unveiled with historic Braille design, indentations

Tokyo Paralympic Medals
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The Tokyo Paralympic medals, which like the Olympic medals are created in part with metals from recycled cell phones and other small electronics, were unveiled on Sunday, one year out from the Opening Ceremony.

In a first for the Paralympics, each medal has one to three indentation(s) on its side to distinguish its color by touch — one for gold, two silver and three for bronze. Braille letters also spell out “Tokyo 2020” on each medal’s face.

For Rio, different amounts of tiny steel balls were put inside the medals based on their color, so that when shaken they would make distinct sounds. Visually impaired athletes could shake the medals next to their ears to determine the color.

More on the design from Tokyo 2020:

The design is centered around the motif of a traditional Japanese fan, depicting the Paralympic Games as the source of a fresh new wind refreshing the world as well as a shared experience connecting diverse hearts and minds. The kaname, or pivot point, holds all parts of the fan together; here it represents Para athletes bringing people together regardless of nationality or ethnicity. Motifs on the leaves of the fan depict the vitality of people’s hearts and symbolize Japan’s captivating and life-giving natural environment in the form of rocks, flowers, wood, leaves, and water. These are applied with a variety of techniques, producing a textured surface that makes the medals compelling to touch.

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Tokyo Paralympic Medals

Tokyo Paralympic Medals

Alysa Liu lands quad Lutz

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Alysa Liu, a 14-year-old who in January became the youngest U.S. women’s figure skating champion, on Saturday landed a quadruple Lutz, something no other U.S. woman has done in competition.

Liu landed the jump at the Aurora Games, a women’s sports festival in Albany, N.Y. It does not count officially, since it’s not a sanctioned competition.

Previously, Sasha Cohen landed a quadruple Salchow in practice in 2001, but never in competition. At least three Russian teens landed quads in junior competition in the last two years.

Kazakhstan’s Elizabet Tursynbaeva became the first woman to land a clean, fully rotated quad in senior competition en route to silver at last season’s world championships.

Liu, who landed three triple Axels between two programs at January’s nationals, makes her junior international debut at a Grand Prix stop in Lake Placid, N.Y., next week.

She will not meet the age minimum for senior international competitions until the 2022 Olympic season. But she can continue to compete at senior nationals.

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