For 20-some years, Adam Rippon’s life was dominated by figure skating. Then, after snagging a bronze medal at the 2018 Winter Olympics as part of the team, he announced his retirement from the professional sphere. To transition between that fierce, competition-fueled era and the next uncertain one, he decided to write a memoir.
“I wanted to process everything, so that when I went into this new chapter, I didn’t have a breakdown moment. I felt like it was important to recall everything I had been through,” he says. “I’ve grown from the experience, remembering things I had forgotten for years.”
Beautiful on the Outside (Grand Central, Oct.) charts Rippon’s ascent from a homeschooled childhood in Scranton, Pa., that revolved around the rink at the Ice Box and the glamorous, global world of figure skating, unveiling the challenges, sacrifices, and uncomfortable Greyhound bus journeys in between.
Lacing his story with humor, something he’s had a knack for since he was a kid, was a priority for Rippon. “I used my body every single day, but I also used humor every day as a tool to take away from the stress. It’s the space I felt most comfortable in; that’s why I made this book a comedy,” he says.
As Rippon considers a future career in television, the book is also a way of reinforcing his role as an activist, organically spawned when Rippon, who publicly came out in 2015, took issue with Vice President Mike Pence leading the 2018 U.S. Olympic delegation because of his stance on gay rights.
Writing the book, says Rippon, “I really thought a lot about being a young kid in Pennsylvania. [That young kid] didn’t feel that he had anyone like him to look out for him, [but now] it was easy for me to speak out. There are so many little boys and girls who feel that nobody sees the world the way they do.”
Rippon wrote some chapters in a few hours, his words flowing. Others left him feeling stuck, but he pushed through with the same moxie he displayed in his skating days. “It’s been such an interesting change, to train at the intensity of trying to go to the Olympics, and then not going to bed with my lungs burning and my legs throbbing,” he says. “I have to remind myself that it’s okay, that it doesn’t mean I didn’t work hard—it’s just in a different way now.”
Today, 9:30–10 a.m. Adam Rippon will speak about his book on the Downtown Stage.