Julie Jacobson/Associated Press
Adam Rippon produced a marvelous routine in his long-awaited Olympic debut.
The 28-year-old Pennsylvania native dazzled on the ice during the men’s free skate portion of the figure skating team event on Sunday night (Monday morning in Pyeongchang, South Korea).
Rippon, who was substituted in for Nathan Chen for the free skate, earned a score of 172.98. He entered his performance with the pressure of keeping the United States in a medal position of the team event, and as USA Today’s Christine Brennan noted, Rippon shined:
Christine Brennan @cbrennansports
Adam Rippon @Adaripp earns 172.98 points with a beautiful Olympic debut under loads of pressure.
Rippon skated with confidence as the routine went on, and as NBC Olympics showed us on Twitter, he was having fun on the ice near the end of the performance:
NBC Olympics @NBCOlympics
When you know you just crushed it at the #WinterOlympics. https://t.co/cVt6G7Nmc8
When he received his score, which was good enough for third place, Rippon appeared happy, as SB Nation captured on Twitter:
The task for Rippon was to keep the United States ahead of Italy in the team standings, and in his post-skate interviews, Rippon said he felt like he did his job, per NBC Olympics’ Nick McCarvel:
Nick McCarvel @NickMcCarvel
“I went out there and did my job,” Adam Rippon tells Andrea Joyce #PyeongChang2018 https://t.co/HeGAhCJBFN
Although he placed third of the five competitors, Rippon finished ahead of Italy’s Matteo Rizzo, who earned a score of 156.11 for his free skate.
Canada, who is in control of the team event, gained the maximum points from the men’s free skate through Patrick Chan’s first-place mark of 179.75.
Mikhail Kolyada kept the Olympic Athletes of Russia in second place in the standings with a performance that earned a 173.57 score.
Japan’s Keiji Tanaka finished fifth with a score of 148.36 that left his nation in fifth place in the team standings.
With two events remaining in the team event, Canada leads with 55 points, Olympic Athletes of Russia sit second with 48 points, while the United States is third with 44 points. Italy is still in position to challenge for third, as it remains in fourth with 42 points.
The United States will turn to Mirai Nagasu in the women’s free skate and Alex and Maia Shibutani in the free dance to secure the team’s position in the top three on Sunday night.
Rippon’s next appearance at the Olympics comes in the men’s individual competition, which begins on Friday with the short program. Chen and Vincent Zhou are the other skaters representing the United States in the men’s singles.
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Statistics obtained from Olympic.org.