U.S. Men’s Skating Off To Rough Start In Olympics After Openly Gay Skater Criticizes Mike Pence

adam rippon mike pence

Figure skater Nathan Chen, a favorite to win gold at the Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea, skated an uncharacteristically error-filled program Thursday just weeks after his openly gay teammate publicly criticized Vice President Mike Pence.

Twenty-eight-year-old figure skater Adam Rippon – who is one of two openly gay athletes on this year’s U.S. Olympics team – told USA Today last month that he believes Pence is a hypocrite for espousing Christian virtues while standing by President Donald Trump. “If he’s OK with what’s being said about people and Americans and foreigners and about different countries, I think he should really go to church,” Rippon said.

Rippon was also aghast at the fact that Pence had been chosen to lead the U.S. delegation at the Olympics. “You mean Mike Pence, the same Mike Pence that funded gay conversion therapy? I’m not buying it,” he said.

However, during an afternoon practice session Thursday, Rippon said he doesn’t want his spat with Pence to distract from the Games. “I don’t want to make this too much for my competitors and for my teammates,” he said. “I’m just kind of focused on the competition. The opening ceremony is tomorrow. I don’t mind talking about it but I don’t want to distract my teammates.”

But despite his vow not to be a distraction, Rippon’s teammate, Chen, skated poorly during his first program, falling on his triple axel and downgrading two jumps. The performance earned him a fourth place finish in the qualifying round.

For his part, Chen blamed his poor performance on the unusually early start time of the competition. While skating competitions generally occur at night, this year they’re scheduled for 10 o’clock in the morning Korea time to accommodate the time zone difference with the U.S. “The seven o’clock practice was a little rough,” Chen said. “With the time change, it’s not a big deal, I just need to recalculate everything in my head.”

Prior to Thursday’s Opening Ceremony, Pence tweeted in support of Rippon and all of America’s Olympic athletes.

Rippon did not acknowledge Pence’s well-wishes. Instead, he claims that he refused an invitation to speak one-on-one with Pence. Pence’s office denies that such a meeting was sought.

Rippon will make his Olympics debut Monday in the free skate portion of the team event.

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By Ann

Ann is a conservative political blogger whose work has appeared on Bleacher Report and America Liberty PAC. Nothing angers... More about Ann

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