Adam Rippon says Mike Pence situation not a 'distraction'

Adam Rippon finally made his big introduction on Sunday night’s prime time Olympic coverage, ripping off a routine that helped the United States win a bronze medal in the team figure skating competition.

The openly gay skating star then held court with NBC’s Mike Tirico, touching on many topics in an entertaining interview that lasted almost four minutes.

One of the subjects, of course, was Rippon’s pre-Olympics feud with vice president Mike Pence. Rippon lashed out when it was announced that Pence would lead the American delegation into PyeongChang, questioning the vice president’s support of all Americans. He said he didn’t want to meet Pence in South Korea if given the chance.

“If it were before my event, I would absolutely not go out of my way to meet somebody who I felt has gone out of their way to not only show that they aren’t a friend of a gay person but that they think that they’re sick,” Mr. Rippon told USA Today.

Since then, Rippon has said he has no interest in “picking a fight” with Pence and both he and Pence seem open to the idea of meeting after the Olympics.

Despite that relative détente, Tirico still asked Rippon after the team competition if all of the headlines generated by scraping with the vice president had been a distraction.

Rippon said they had not:

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Tirico: “You came out as openly gay in October of 2015. There have been a lot of stories written about that including the vice president’s involvement. But you’ve said you’re not going to let it be a distraction. That’s a lot to say. How about doing it in practice. Has it distracted you in any way. ”

Rippon: “You know, Ive worked my entire life for this moment. But more than that, my mom has always taught me to stand up what I believe in and that has given my skating a greater purpose. So I go out there and I’m not only representing myself, I’m representing my coaches, I’m representing my country and I’m representing my teammates. So I remember that and that’s how I stay focused.”

Given both his talent and personality, Rippon will be a constant media presence for the rest of these Olympics. He’ll have to continue maintaining that focus because it’s not likely the questions about Pence will stop.

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