Adam Rippon Heads in a New Direction

Paul Harvath
Adam Rippon

When Adam Rippon moved to Toronto in late 2008, he thought he had found the perfect training base.

The two-time World junior champion (2008-09) seemed to thrive training alongside Yu-Na Kim and numerous other elite skaters from all over the world.

But at the end of last season, Rippon made the decision to part ways with his coach Brian Orser and seek out a new training venue. “After I stopped working with Brian I knew I needed to look for another place, one where I could see myself training for the next three years at least,” Rippon explained.

“I worked with Ghislain Briand for awhile because I was not prepared to just pack up and leave right away. I wanted to take my time and make the best decision about where I would train.

“It was hard to say goodbye to my friends at the Cricket Club,” he added. “The people at that club had always been there for me and many told me that they would still be rooting for me. I left on good terms.”

Rippon trained in Colorado Springs and spent a couple of weeks in Los Angeles working with Frank Carroll. But when he arrived in Detroit to have his long program choreographed by Pasquale Camerlengo, Rippon knew that was where he wanted to be.

“At my very first session in Detroit I knew I really wanted to spend more time in that kind of atmosphere,” the 21-year-old said. “Everywhere I had been I was looking for what I found in Detroit. But because Jeremy Abbott trains there with Yuka (Sato) and Jason (Dungjen), I had never even considered that possibility.

“I know Jeremy pretty well and so I talked to him about it. We both agreed it would be mutually beneficial for both of us.”

Rippon relocated to Detroit in late June and is currently sharing an apartment with his training mate Alissa Czisny. “A lot of good skaters, especially singles skaters from all over the world, come to this rink. Michal Březina was here recently,” Rippon said.

Shae-Lynn Bourne choreographed his new short program to “Korobushka” by Bond. “I wanted to try different styles so I talked to David Wilson. He said he really wanted me to work with Shae-Lynn. I have always wanted to work with her, so that worked out perfectly,” Rippon explained. “I told Shae I wanted to do something fun that highlights my personality and this fits the bill perfectly. I am very happy.”

He said his long program to Bach’s “Air” and “Toccata and Fugue” is also inspiring. “It is based on a story that I tell throughout the program. It is like Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. Pasquale loves it because I am named Adam,” Rippon said with a laugh.

“I loved working with Pasquale. He has such a dancer’s mentality. It is really great that I have an in-house choreographer again.”

After winning the Japan Open in early October, Rippon’s high hopes for the rest of the season did not materialize. “When I beat Daisuke Takahashi and Evgeni Plushenko at the Open, one of my goals came to fruition. But it spooked me out a little,” Rippon admitted.

“I always knew that if I skated well I could beat these guys, but when I did, I had to step back. I said to myself, ‘Oh, I can really do this.’ Feeling that it was not an unattainable dream anymore kind of threw me for a loop.”

Rippon has been assigned to Skate Canada and Trophée Eric Bompard next season. “After not making the 2011 World team, receiving any assignments is a huge blessing. I am really thankful to get two,” he said.

When asked how he plans to integrate his experiences from last season, Rippon said he was still evaluating everything. “What happened ... it was actually a blessing in disguise. If it had not been what it was I would likely not have come to Detroit.

“I don’t want to say I fed into the hype and attention that I received last year, but I did put more pressure on myself than anyone else was putting on me,” the 2010 Four Continents champion explained. “I made everything a bigger deal than it actually was.

“Last year I was over-thinking. Your mind can play a lot of tricks on you, and that is one thing I learned. This season I am just going to focus on keeping it really simple and skate the very best I can.”

Originally published in October 2011