The extent of my understanding of competitive skating comes from the Fox Family channel film Ice Angel, in which a male hockey player dies and is reincarnated as a figure skater (played by The Nanny’s Nicholle Tom) who must win an Olympic gold medal, for some reason. Mostly, this film taught me that gender was not well understood in the year 2000, but I still believe, based on the very limited information I gleaned from it about figure skating, that Adam Rippon just got screwed.
On Sunday, Rippon made his Olympic debut in the figure skating team’s male free skate. He performed what, to my untrained eyes, appeared to be a nearly perfect routine, the only flaw of which was that he did some of it to Coldplay. It was beautiful. It was spectacular. It was breathtaking. It made Coldplay nearly bearable. And yet, his performance ranked third. It ranked below two people who fell. WHAT.
Rippon’s performance scored below that of Canadian competitor Patrick Chan and that of Russian skater Mikhail Kolyada, even though both of those dudes fell. The Internet is baffled. Tara Lipinski (who was also in Ice Angel, FYI) was also baffled. “I don’t know what performance the judges were watching,” she said. I literally understand none of this, but I. Am. Livid. GIVE THIS MAN A GODDAMN MEDAL.
It appears there is, in fact, a “reason” Rippon was not immediately carried onto the ice by tiny medal-bearing penguins (which is something I assume happens in competitive skating.) According to USA Today’s very useful skating explainer website, Rippon scored lower than the two sad, sloppy fallers (JK I am sure they were very good, but I don’t know anything!!!!) because he didn’t attempt something called a “quad,” which is a figure skating jump with at least four rotations.
Olympic judges reward skaters who try more difficult moves, even if they fail, and since Chan did two quads, Kolyada tried to do three, and Rippon did zero, they were scored accordingly. It’s kind of like how my high school guidance counselor told me I’d get into a better college if I did poorly in a harder math class than well in an easier one, though he promptly changed his mind when I got a C, so. Math is hard.
Anyway, Rippon says he’s still “so proud” to be on the Olympic team, and the U.S. team got a nice points boost thanks to Mirai Nagasu’s history-making triple axel, so everything is FINE, I think. Now please enjoy this trailer for Ice Angel: