was one of few East Coasters who relished the holiday snow storms. Spending time with his family was the highlight of his break, so he didn’t mind when his flight was canceled one day and delayed the next.
“I almost had two extra days,” Rippon said. Since he trains in Toronto, the holidays are one of his few chances to be back home and take a much-needed break. “I had been training 100 percent full out since the end of July.”
The Grand Prix series was mixed for Rippon, who delivered two solid programs at Skate Canada, but followed up with a lackluster performance at Skate America.
“At Skate America, I lost my focus a little bit but it was a really good learning experience,” he said. “ I think a bad skate like that can only make you stronger mentally.”
Although he was disappointed that he didn’t make the Grand Prix Final, Rippon views it as both a blessing and a curse. “It was a curse because I wanted to go to the Grand Prix Final really badly,” he said. “But the blessing was it gave me time to come down, refocus and regroup.”
Now, Rippon is looking forward to competing at the U.S. Championships, Jan. 22-30, in Greensboro, N.C.
“I’m feeling really good and really healthy going into nationals,” he said. Rippon will be tweaking a few spins to maximize points, but otherwise he expects no changes to his programs.
While some predict that he will rivalfor the gold, Rippon’s goal is to skate two strong programs and not worry about placements. “Jeremy is a fantastic skater and two time and reigning national champion but the only thing I’m focusing on is my own skating,” he demurred.
This year, Rippon feels more confident skating in front of large audiences, thanks to his experiences at Four Continents and the World Championships last season. “I love my two new programs this year so much,” he said. This year, Rippon said he was more involved in his music selection and choreography than ever before.
As further proof that he’s in the big leagues, Rippon is now represented by IMG and he appreciates having an agent to organize the media aspect of competing. “It’s nice knowing that somebody has your back,” he said “You don’t feel like you’re coming at the media and interview stuff alone.”
In Toronto, Rippon has delayed school to focus on training, but he keeps his mind sharp by learning new languages. Last season, while skating with Yuna Kim, Rippon started learning Korean. “There were a lot of different Koreans coming and going and it was the perfect opportunity to practice Korean with them at the rink,” he said.
It’s a little harder now to practice without them, but Rippon has started studying French as well. “French is closely related to English so it makes it little bit easier,” he said. “It’s a second language here in Canada and I have a coach who’s French-Canadian, so there are lots of opportunities to practice.”
“I think it’s important to do something so you’re not completely consumed with skating,” Rippon said. “It can drive you mad if skating is all that you’re doing.” Learning foreign languages has been a great balance to skating and it comes in handy when he interacts with international media outlets. “I want to build a better rapport with fans around the world.”
He may get the chance to do just that if he makes it on the national team to compete at the World Championships in Tokyo this March.
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