'Really big learning year' takes Rippon to Bulgaria

Adam RipponAdam Rippon made one of the biggest decisions of his career earlier this season. Only weeks before he was to make his senior national debut at the 2009 U.S. Championships in Cleveland, Ohio, he decided to leave coach Nikolai Morozov in Hackensack, N.J.

In December, he was coach less but with the encouragement of choreographer David Wilson, Rippon eventually found himself with two-time Olympic silver medalist and eight-time Canadian Champion Brian Orser in Toronto, Canada.

Orser, the coach of Korean superstar Yu-Na Kim, trained Rippon prior to the U.S. Championships, although he was not able to make the competition because of prior commitments. In Cleveland, Rippon finished seventh overall, earning a spot to compete for the United States at the World Junior Championships, Feb. 23-March 1, in Sofia, Bulgaria.

He won the 2008 World Junior gold medal to cap off an impressive junior campaign. Rippon won the Junior Grand Prix Final and the junior title at the U.S. Championships in the 2007-2008 season. This October, he made his senior international debut at Skate America, finishing eighth. He set his personal best score of 207.93 points with a fifth place finish at Cup of Russia.

Before departing for his last competition of the season, which will be his first with Orser at the boards, Rippon sat down with Figure Skaters Online to answer questions from his fans.

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Jamie (Arizona, USA): Thanks for taking questions from your fans Adam. First, tell us some of your thoughts on the current season.
Adam: I am really excited with how this season is going. I have had a lot of changes and I’m really positive about them and confident in them. It’s a really big learning year.

Ben (Washington, USA): Adam, what was it like making your senior international debut in the United States at Skate America? Was there any added pressure since it was your first senior event and it was in front of a home crowd? I know that you didn’t do your best there but we were cheering loudly.
Adam: Of course I didn’t skate anywhere near my best but it was great. Being able to skate at Skate America was a real eye-opening experience. I got a taste of the senior international stage and it definitely helped having extra support from the home audience.

Danielle (California, USA): What did you focus on in the month between Skate America and Cup of Russia?
Adam: I really went back to the drawing-board and “started the season over.” I refocused and turned my training around. Skate America was a great learning competition and I took everything I learned to be more prepared for Cup of Russia.

Katya (Moscow, Russia): What was it like to be third after the short program in Moscow? I liked your program very much. Come back to Russia soon.
Adam: I would love to go back to Russia. Finishing third in the short program there [at Cup of Russia] was a great feeling. Everything I had done between Skate America and Cup of Russia had paid off. When I came to Russia the only thing I felt I had to do was skate my program the best I could just enjoy them.

Kate (Moscow, Russia): Hi, Adam! Did you like your first visit to Russia? And did you like our support to you? We were trying to do the best. I hope to see you next year on Cup of Russia, do you want to come back?
Adam: I really did have a great time in Russia. The support I got was incredible. I was surprised at first, seeing as I had never been there before, but I embraced it. I can’t thank the Russian fans enough for it.

Janice (Tennessee, USA): Did anything change in your training between Skate America and Cup of Russia this year? Or was it more of a mental thing that changed? You looked so much more like yourself in Russia.
Adam: After Skate America I knew what to expect at a senior Grand Prix and I think that helped a lot. It was also a huge mental thing. I worked on it in practice and I was really glad I got through it pretty successfully.

Carlee (Colorado, USA): What are your thoughts on your first outing as a senior at the U.S. Championships? Are you satisfied overall with how you performed?
Adam: Going into this year at nationals, I knew I couldn’t put too many expectations on myself. I had just switched coaches, was in a new training environment and country, and with cleaned up programs. It was a lot to take in. I am really thankful that I had a lot of support from so many people. Overall, I am satisfied with what I did. I know I can do much better but again, it’s the perfect year for all these learning experiences.

Brianna (California, USA): What do you need to improve on from your performances at nationals to successfully defend your World Junior Championship title?
Adam: After nationals, I came back to Toronto and started skating again. The more I skate here, the more and more comfortable I am feeling with all of the new people around me. This has really helped to to bring my skating to a new level. At junior worlds, I have to be myself. I need to skate my programs the way I do in practice and hopefully the results will follow.

Rhonda (Massachusetts, USA): Adam, are you looking forward to returning to the World Junior Championships? You have already won the event and competed as a senior internationally so I wonder if this is the direction that you want to go with your skating.
Adam: I am very happy to be going to junior worlds. It will be a great experience to go to a competition with Brian Orser, my new coach, and to show that I have made improvements since nationals. I think this competition will help set me up for next season.

Olga (Germany): Why did you come back to the old short program in this season?
Adam: I returned to my short program from last year because it was something I was really comfortable with. My short program from Skate America was never completely finished and I didn’t have much time to work on it.

Tori (Texas, USA): When do you think we’ll see a quad from you Adam?
Adam: I have landed quads in practice before and this summer I will really be working on their consistency. It would be great if I could include [the quad] in my programs next season.

Jamie (Arizona, USA): How are you adjusting to life in Canada with Brian Orser? What are some of the adjustments you’ve had to make both on the ice and off the ice?
Adam: Life in Canada has been great. I am becoming more comfortable with Brian and he is becoming more comfortable with me. I have made a few changes in my jumping technique especially with the triple axel. Off the ice I am just trying to adjust to Canadian life. I am slowly becoming more and more familiar in reading the temperature in Celsius and using Loonies and Twoonies.

Jamie (Arizona, USA): Was Korea’s Yu-Na Kim at all a factor in deciding to train with Orser?
Adam: The reason I came to work with Brian was because he had the experience of being a skater at the top level and coaching a skater at the top level.

Cheryl (Ontario, Canada): What is it like training with Yu-Na Kim? Because she is one of the greatest skaters the world has ever seen, and you are out there on the ice with her, does she have an impact on your skating?
Adam: Skating with Yu-Na is great. I really feed off of her skating and I feel that she feeds off of mine. It’s been a really great thing.

Haliem (Korea): What is it like being friends with Yu-Na?
Adam: It is very nice. She is very sweet and an amazing skater.

Jamie (Arizona, USA): Before training with Orser, you went to train with Paul Wylie. Can you tell us a little bit about that experience?
Adam: Skating with Paul was a very good thing mentally for me to do. While I was there skating with him, we had the chance to talk and I discussed everything that was going on with my coaching situation. He really helped me to put things into perspective and look forward. I am incredibly thankful.

Diane (New York, USA): In May, the Professional Skaters Association (PSA) selected you as the “Edi” Award winner for the Best Men’s Performance at the 2008 U.S. Championships. What was it like receiving that award when you were skating as a junior and had to compete for the honor with more seasoned competitors like Evan Lysacek and Johnny Weir?
Adam: Finding out I had won the award was very exciting. I wouldn’t have even thought that I was able to be considered because I was junior. Winning the Edi award was a highlight from last season.

Edna (New Jersey, USA): Adam, you have a lot of very Johnny Weir like qualities about you. I’ve noticed that your costumes have a similar style. And like his skating, you’re very beautiful with a subtle softness. Do you draw inspiration from his skating?
Adam: I draw a lot of inspiration from many skaters, including Johnny. There are so many qualities from so many people that are very beautiful and powerful. I think people create their own style by drawing from past skaters and combining different thing they like about them and then making it work for them.

Olga (Germany): What are your favorite jumps and spins?
Adam: My favorite jump is the triple Lutz and my favorite spin is the camel. Why? I’m not entirely certain.

Ashley (Virginia, USA): What is your favorite country to skate in other than the USA? What city has been the most fun to visit?
Adam: This is such a hard question to answer because everywhere I have competed I have had a good time. The audience has always been really supportive and I am lucky to have, already, many great fans.

Brittany (Maine, USA): Hi Adam! What is your favorite ice cream flavor?
Adam: Vanilla. It is a classic.

Ashley (Virginia, USA): What are three words you’d describe yourself with?
Adam: Passionate, fun-loving and friendly.

Jamie (Arizona, USA): Thanks for taking the time to answer questions from your fans Adam. Is there anything that you’d like to add?
Adam: Thank you for your questions!

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For more information on Adam Rippon, visit his official Web site Adam Rippon Online at www.figureskatersonline.com/adamrippon/.