Adam Rippon: "I feel like I'm one of the luckiest skaters."


November 14, 2010
By Suzanne Herrmann (Suzie)
Photos © Suzanne Herrmann

Adam was kind enough to take some time to speak to me after the exhibition practice on Sunday of Skate Canada weekend. We discussed the event, his training setting and what his goals are for this season.

Suzie: How do you feel about the event?

Adam: I’m really happy about how I skated. I came in feeling a little sick and then having a little accident with Patrick [Adam collided with Patrick Chan on practice ice on Friday]—a lot of things happened but you know, I’m happy that regardless, I was able to stay focused and just skate two solid programs.

Suzie: What are your goals this year?

Adam: Well, I’d really love to make the final in Beijing so placing third here is a good start to that so hopefully skating better and hopefully earning a berth at the final for the first time. But really my main goal for this season is to just to really skate solidly and cleanly at each competition I go to and just keep focused and stay healthy.

Suzie: What is your other GP event?

Adam: Skate America

Suzie: How do you feel about having about a week in between?

Adam: You know, training for Skate Canada, I made sure I was very well prepared so I could carry the training through Skate America so that when I go home I can take a few days off just to regroup and then jump right back into it and not have an issue. So having that mindset, I think going into Skate America, I’ll be fine and having just a short time, I won’t have a problem.

Suzie: It’s kind of nice too that you’re not that far away so you don’t have the time difference and change and everything to deal with.

Adam: It’s nice but it’s also nice that it’s [Portland, cite of Skate America] not so close because it was so weird just being able to drive here.

Suzie: How long did it take?

Adam: Two hours!

Suzie: Really? Not bad. I’m about 3.5 away.

Adam: My mom was 4.

Suzie: That’s not bad at all.

Adam: No, very close.

Suzie: Your programs are so graceful!

Adam: Thank you.

Suzie: When watching you skate, some others and I were discussing how you put us into a trance. We can enjoy your program and we don’t have to be worried because you just skate so well.

Adam: Oh, thank you!

Suzie: …And your triple Lutz with the arms above your head…I can’t quite understand how you can do that.

Adam: (laughs)

Suzie: If you don’t catch your other hand in the air do you not complete the jump?

Adam: Well, there were times when I was first learning it that I would miss my hands and my arms and shoulders would go all over the place. [Adam demonstrates.] But I’ve worked on it—and of course there’s the rare attempt when things don’t work—but I’ve worked on it a lot and I’m really proud to have such a unique element.

Suzie: It’s really, really cool.

Adam: Thank you.

Suzie: I’ll settle for one arm above the head for now.

Adam: (laughs)

Suzie: How do you like training in Canada?

Adam: I love it. I love Toronto. Where I train it’s an incredible environment. I feel like I’m one of the luckiest skaters to just be able to have such a great coach—great coaches—and amazing choreographers. Toronto is a great city and it’s a great environment just to live in, so I really like it a lot.

Suzie: Are you at the Cricket Club?

Adam: Yes—at the Cricket Club.

Suzie: It’s private, right?

Adam: Mhm.

Suzie: So you don’t have people coming in—does it bother you to have a lot of people come in off the street to watch you, like when you were in Hackensack?

Adam: Yeah, right. When I was in Hackensack, I was just a Jr. skater coming up and everything—not that I’m all the way on the top, but there were the Japanese there—Miki Ando, Daisuke Takahashi—so there were people coming in to watch them. Being at the club it’s nice to know that you’re among friends and family and there are always a lot of people because skating isn’t the only thing that goes on in the club. It’s nice and you feel like you can be yourself and it’s comforting. [Toronto’s Cricket Club also includes Curling, Swimming, Tennis amongst other activities.]

Suzie: Since you’ve been training with Brian, you look like you have really settled into your own. I remember when you were in Hackensack just working on—I mean, you could already do the triple Axel—but just working on it and when you switched to Brian, everything just fell into place and you look a lot more calm and confident.

Adam: It just really has a lot to do with the way I feel and the atmosphere I’m in. It’s so calm and so positive that I really have to attribute the success that I’ve had so far just to a really positive training environment. It’s very relaxing, we all work very hard. It’s really positive and that’s what I really love about the environment.

Suzie: It seems like it’d be a great place to train. Now rewinding a little bit, back to Adult Camp in Hackensack, what did you think about working with adults?—‘cause they’re a little bit crazy but in a good way!

Adam: You know, I really love it because when you work with adults—by the time the skaters are old enough to work with the adults and help them out, you’ve both become really passionate about skating. You both have your favorite skaters and your favorite performances. Working with someone who’s younger, when you ask who the best skater in the world is, they say, “Whhaaaa?” It’s just a different level of talking and you can explain something in depth and go through little tricks you tell yourself and that’s what I really love about it, that you can really see eye to eye with that person intellectually.

Suzie: I really like participating in them [camps and seminars] and I really like participating with skaters who are still competing, still training, because you bring a different perspective than somebody who might still be in it as a coach but has been removed from the arena as a competitor.

Adam: Well, taking it back to another question—Why do I like working with Brian?—it is because he was a skater and a lot of things he has to say are what a skater would say to a skater and it’s always interesting to hear that. It’s not usual corrections a coach would say; it’s more like “I feel like this,” “I feel like that.” It works, but you know I have other coaches there who are more technical so whatever I feel I need is where I’m drawn to that day.

Suzie: You can really tell he’s totally in the game at a different level because he’s out on the ice skating with you… but he’s not actually out there.

Adam: There are not a lot—I don’t think really any coaches right now—that can be like, “I know what that triple axel feels like,” “I know what that flip feels like.” It’s really interesting. Not that a coach needs to know, but I think it gives Brian a little bit of an advantage to his coaching.

Suzie: Are you doing quads?

Adam: Yeah, I’ve been working on quad toe and quad flip and I just wanted to make sure the consistency was there before I added a quad to the program so it was really important for me to skate clean programs this year [at the Grand Prix events] just to get the patterns of everything set up and to be set for later in the season.

Suzie: Both your programs are new?

Adam: Yes.

Suzie: You get new ones every year usually, right?

Adam: Yeah, I like to get new ones. I’ve kept one once before but I really like to just try different styles. I like changing it up and working on new things just to keep it fresh.

Suzie: Aside from this season, I’ve always just done a new one because I feel like the old one will hold me back because I could move forward with a new one.

Adam: Exactly. Sometimes I feel like I have more to give with a piece but that I’d like to move forward anyway. It’s just—you need a change of scenery and sometimes if the steps are different it just looks like you’ve improved and I like that.

Suzie: Have they really changed the rules that much for you guys? I know the ladies are always changing the sequence you can do and this and that…

Adam: Right. Well, it’s kind of like when the rules came out, everyone was like, “Oh, wow, this is going to completely change the game!” and you know what? It really hasn’t changed too much. Yes, sometimes people get a 70% on a downgrade, an under-rotation, but for the most part, it’s really changed the spins. The spins have become much harder and I really think that they could make the levels of values for the spins a little bit more because they are so difficult. To get all level four spins in a program is rare now.

Suzie: I know the Adult Nationals are a little bit different than Senior Nationals, but a level three is great and gaining a level four spiral sequence before that was nullified was exciting. Now that it’s not an availability, our base scores are bumped down which is fine—

Adam: Right and it’s hard to compare scores from last season just because we [Men singles] have a choreographed step sequence that’s automatically a level one [new this year] and the spins are just much harder this year. So it’s just kind of [learning to] balance it all.

Suzie: They took the edge change out?

Adam: They took away the inside edge, [which is a feature in spins], which I think they should have.

Suzie: Yeah—it’s not the best.

Adam: It was a mistake. Like, I remember before there —

Suzie: We weren’t allowed to do inside edges!

Adam: Yeah! If you did that everyone made fun of you. They’d say, “You can’t do it right!” Then it became a bullet [a feature on spins], so it was kind of strange. I think it’s right if you can change by the time you are doing camels; then you’re a proficient skater and you deserve the bullet.

Suzie: I was hearing about a change in spins—you can’t repeat positions more than once in the program?

Adam: Yeah, they’ve done that.

Suzie: So if you do a cannonball, can you still do a pancake?

Adam: They have three different [positions]—sit forward, sit side and sit back and you can have one of each. It makes it really difficult to do one of each because each position is so hard.

Adam also mentioned to me after discussing the assistant coaching he did for the Adult Camp in Hackensack, NJ, that he assists skaters from time to time at the Cricket Club when he is needed.

Suzie: Thank you and good luck with the rest of the season!

Adam: Thank you, it was great talking to you!

Throughout the interview and as we finished up our conversation, Adam signed a slew of autographs. He was a pleasure to speak with and his success can certainly be attributed to the calm and definite air about him.



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