As Maria Bell ripped through two spectacular routines to win her first national championship earlier this month, the man wildly celebrating by the end boards garnered almost as much attention.
He was simply Adam Rippon himself. And to be so satisfied seeing Bell being himself.
Ripon has been a semi-coach, choreographer, and motivating influence on Bell, becoming the oldest female U.S. champion in 95 years at age 25. By the way, she also earned an Olympic berth.
“When you really lean in, you ask, ‘Can I get better and work harder and be smarter, and still achieve what I set out to achieve? And then you go for it,” says Rippon, the 2018 Olympian, the first openly gay athlete to represent the United States at a Games. “Maria is a huge testament to the sport that grows as you get older. Being competitive is very difficult. She hasn’t deviated from her main goal even for a second. She is a tough competitor, she will work things out in the competition. She’s done all the work, so when that adrenaline hits, she’s ready for it. ,
Like Bell, a long career saw Rippon disappoint but rallied at the right time. She is thrilled to have him in her corner as she leaves for Beijing with teammates Karen Chen and Alyssa Liu.
Guess it Bell is just as thrilled to help him.
“I’m super super lucky to be able to work with Adam,” she says. “I trained with him for a few years and he was always such a leader at the rink. For him to come to my training and help me, he has been very helpful.
“He gives me really great perspective, stays mature and professional, and he’s the best at that.”
Ripon, who helped the United States to a team bronze medal in Pyeongchang, agreed to work with Bell only because his coach, Rafael Arutunyan, was guiding him. It provided a level of comfort for all three of them, something important in such a technical and artistic game.
Knowing how Arutyunians mentor their students, their approach to training, program creation and competition was essential to Ripon himself. Otherwise he could have refused.
“One of the things he does well,” Ripon says of Arutyunian, “he could see that a student needed something other than that. He could see Maria and I worked well together. and was able to work very well with Maria and completely under the guidance of Raphael.Maria has very cleverly put together the team that she needed.
“I’m very proud of him for being able to figure out what you need and give him a voice. It’s a big part of that fight.”
The recent battle for Bell stems from the biggest disappointment of his career. After a sensational free skate at the 2020 Nationals that nearly brought him the title – Liu held on for his second gold medal – Bell was named the favorite for 2021. Instead, she stumbled through those US championships in Las Vegas in the middle of the pandemic. And without fans. He never challenged.
The vine has blossomed from such a low point. She won’t challenge strong Russian or Japanese contingents in Beijing for a podium spot, but she will be an Olympian. And an American champion.
“I think about where Maria was in so many aspects in her career, I see myself as what she’s going through,” Ripon says. “When I competed I saw a lot of younger kids doing more than me, leaving me behind in results. But I felt I could really hold my own, and focus on what I’ve done focused, and that’s something I can relate to Maria.
“It’s such a short period of your life and you should enjoy it. If you feel like you’re improving, you should keep going and give what you have.”
When Bell met the media at the nationals after his victorious free skate, and again when he was officially placed on Team USA, Rippon stood in the back of the conference room and smiled. Yes, he had a covered face, but one could tell that there was a wide smile.
The same goes for bail ups on stage.
“A few years before we started working together, I was getting ready to go to the Nationals,” she recalls. “I was nervous. I told him I was nervous, and he said, ‘So, don’t go.’
“The whole point is it’s just a sport for fun. Even watching the Olympics, Adam went and that was incredible, but that’s just another competition. Nothing’s going to change in my life.” Is.”
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