When Adam Rippon and Mirai Nagasu didn’t make the United States figure skating team for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, they hunkered down together on Nagasu’s roof and ate In-N-Out.
Fast-forward four years, and the pair are still hunkering down together.
But this time its in Pyeongchang. And they’re roommates. In the Olympic Village.
“We gave each other a hug and I said, ‘Mirai, we are here. We did it,’” the Clarks Summit native told NBC Sports’ Mike Tirico on Monday (Sunday night in Pennsylvania). “We both went out there and had great skates today, to do that for our team. It was so amazing.”
Together, Rippon and Nagasu shined as they kept the United States alive during Monday’s portion of the figure skating team event.
Rippon went first, skating in the men’s single free-skating portion of the team event. He finished third with a 172.98 to keep the U.S. in third overall heading into the final two events — Nagasu’s ladies single free-skating portion and the ice dancing free dance.
But unlike Nagasu, this was Rippon’s first taste of the Olympic Games.
Though Rippon admitted he was nervous, telling Tirico after the fact that he wanted to throw up and ask the judges if he could have “a Xanax and quick drink” before taking the ice, the NEPA native didn’t let his emotions show.
Even with a third-place skate, Rippon became the top-trending topic on Twitter during the event and drew rave reviews from NBC Sports figure skating analysts Johnny Weir and Tara Lipinski.
“It’s been different. I’ve been waiting 28 years to get out there, and let me tell you it was worth the wait,” Rippon said. “I kept it together and I took it one element at a time. And to see my friend go out there and perform great was even better.”
Rippon was one of Nagasu’s biggest supporters in the United States contingent sitting rinkside during the ladies portion.
As Nagasu completed the first triple axle by an American female figure skater in Olympic competition, the NBC cameras picked up Rippon’s reaction. He was standing with his hands held high cheering along as the 24-year-old attempted her routine.
After Nagasu learned she scored a 137.53, which would be good enough for second, Rippon again could be seen celebrating his friend’s accomplishment.
“I’ve known her for more than 10 years,” Rippon said. “To see everything she’s gone through I almost started crying. I love my girl. I’m so proud of her tonight.”
Rippon fully committed himself to reaching this point six years ago — two years after being selected an alternate for the Vancouver Games — when he dropped everything and moved to Los Angeles to start training with famed figure skating coach Rafael Arutyunyan.
Slowly but surely Rippon started to reap the benefits.
While he didn’t qualify for the Sochi Games, he began to make strides. Rippon won the national title and finished sixth at the World Championships in 2016 and took fifth and sixth in the ISU Grand Prix Final in 2017 and 2016, respectively.
“I had no money,” Rippon told NBC Sports figure skating and gymnastics reporter Andrea Joyce after his skate during the team event. “I lived in Rafael’s basement. I had enough money to have a gym membership. I would steal all the apples because I had no money for groceries. Six years later I’m here. I’m here at the Olympics.”
Now that Rippon has his Olympic sea legs under him and his first medal in his pocket, taking bronze in the team event, he can now shift his focus to the individual competition.
The Clark Summit native will be back on the ice Friday morning (Thursday evening in Pennsylvania) for the men’s singles short program and then the following day for the free skate.
“I’ve worked my entire life for this moment. More than that, my mom always taught me to stand up for what I believe in and that has given my skating more purpose,” Rippon said. “I go out there, I’m not only representing myself but my coaches, my country, and my teammates — and that’s how I stay focused.”