Meet Adam Rippon, A Figure Skater Who Is Team USA’s First Openly Gay Male Winter Olympian

"I feel that my experience will help me have my best performances at the Olympic Games."

We're exactly one month away from the start of the 2018 Winter Olympics — this time set in Pyeongchang, South Korea — and already, the U.S. is making history. For this celebration of all things sports, we will be sending the first-ever openly gay male athlete: figure skater Adam Rippon, who came out in 2015.

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Despite the 28-year-old Pennsylvania native finishing fourth at the U.S. figure skating championship this past weekend, he was chosen to compete alongside Nathan Chen (who finished first) and Vincent Zhou (who finished third) on the world's stage. This meant that Ross Miner, the second place finisher, was ultimately not selected for Team America.

"I'm really grateful that the selection committee looked at my body of work over the last two seasons," Rippon said, according to The Washington Post. "... I feel that my experience will help me have my best performances at the Olympic Games, and it feels amazing to say that."

That experience Rippon mentions is based on the fact that he is the oldest U.S. figure skating Olympic rookie in 82 years, since 1936. Chen and Zhou are 18 and 17, respectively — a full decade younger than Rippon. Miner, who just missed out, is 26. And, when it comes to age, Rippon clearly thinks it's just a number.

"I don't really care what other people think of me. I'm able to go out there and I'm really able to be unabashedly myself," Rippon said, via NPR. "I want somebody who's young, who's struggling, who's not sure if it's OK if they are themselves to know that it's OK."

Part of being your true self, to Rippon, is embracing every part of oneself. Making history as the first out athlete to compete in the Winter Olympics from the U.S. — though he may not be the only one this go-round — is a big moment for Rippon. It's a win for the LGBTQ community, as the U.S. hasn't even sent an openly gay man to the Summer Olympics in 14 years, since 2004.

Other noteworthy gay athletes who you might be thinking of in regards to Rippon's history-making inclusion are Johnny Weir and Gus Kenworthy — neither of whom were out when they competed in the Winter Olympics. Weir, a fellow figure skater, competed in 2006 and 2010 but avoided coming out until he wrote a memoir in 2011. Kenworthy, a freestyle skier who took home silver in 2014, came out a year later in 2015.

"A few weeks ago, I was asked in an interview … what was it like being a gay athlete in sports," Rippon said. "And I said it's exactly like being a straight athlete. Only with better eyebrows."

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