Tag Archives: Olympic

Leslie Jones, Hoda Kotb & Even Elmo Celebrate Snowboarder Chloe Kim's Olympic Gold Medal Win

After back-to-back 1080s in the halfpipe final, American snowboarding phenom Chloe Kim took home the gold!

The 17-year-old Torrance, California, native stole the show and many people’s hearts in PyeongChang during her competition on Tuesday morning (Monday night stateside) when she scored an impressive 93.75 in her first run and a whopping 98.25 in the final run.

Celebrities, including Hoda Kotb and Leslie Jones, were back home in the U.S. watching and cheering Kim on as she cemented her status as the youngest female competitor to win an Olympic snowboarding medal.

The PyeongChang games are the second time Kim has qualified for an Olympics but she could not compete in Sochi because she was too young (only 13 years old at the time).

Kim became the second 17-year-old to win a gold for the nation this week. (Snowboarder Red Gerard was the first.)

“Chloe!!!!!! Yessss!!!” the Today show co-anchor wrote in celebration as Saturday Night Live‘s Jones also tweeted: “YAAAAAASSS!! Slay all Day!!”

Seaseme Street posted a congratulations on behalf of adorable monster Elmo. “Congratulations to @Elmo’s friend @chloekimsnow on winning the gold medal! #ELMOtivation #WinterOlympics,” Seaseme Street posted on social media.

China’s Liu Jiayu received the silver medal while American Arielle Gold walked away with the bronze.

RELATED GALLERY: Meet the Youngest Olympians! These 11 Teens Are Competing for Team USA at the Winter Olympics

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Ocean’s 8 star Awkwafina cheerfully tweeted: “WATCHING CHLOE KIM AUDIBLY SOBBING ON THIS JETBLUE FLIGHT N THEY THINK IM ON ACID. GOD BLESS THE USA GOD BLESS CHLOE KIM.”

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And even more impressive and relatable, Kim expressed her hangry mood mid-competition minutes before she secured her gold. “Wish I finished my breakfast sandwich but my stubborn self decided not to and now I’m getting hangry,” she tweeted.

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A day earlier, between the qualifying runs for the halfpipe event where previewed her first-place abilities, Kim had tweeted: “could be down for some ice cream rn.” A follower asked — wasn’t she competing at the moment? To which she responded, “yes…”

Along with the rest of the nation applauding Kim, her father was front and center to congratulate his superstar daughter.

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The 2018 Winter Olympics are extra special for Kim as she’s competing in her family’s home country.

“I feel like I can represent both countries in a way because I have a Korea face, but I was born and raised in the States,” Kim joked in an interview with TODAY‘s Kotb.

Team USA collected its third gold medal in snowboarding with Kim’ victory.

The 2018 Winter Olympics are airing live on NBC. To learn more, visit teamusa.org.

From Rooftop Burgers to Olympic Roommates: All About Adam Rippon and Mirai Nagasu's Sweet Friendship

What’s better than winning a medal at an Olympic Games? Doing it with one of your best friends!

Figure skaters Adam Rippon and Mirai Nagasu led the U.S. team to bronze at the 2018 Winter Olympics, and the win is extra special for the longtime skating buds.

“We’re roommates here, staying at the Olympic Village,” Rippon, 28, told NBC Olympics. “We gave each other a hug and I said, ‘You know, Mirai, we’re here! We did it!’ ”

Nagasu, 24, made history on Monday when she became the very first American female to land a triple axel at the Olympics.

“I love my girl and so proud of her tonight,” Rippon said of Nagasu’s performance. “I’ve been waiting for this my whole life, then to see my friend go out there and skate like that is even better.”

Keep Following PEOPLE’s Complete Coverage of the 2018 Winter Olympics

Meanwhile, Rippon captured the internet’s heart thanks to his attention-grabbing free skate in the figure skating team event.

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The two have become fan-favorites at the Games, with Nagasu drawing kudos from figure skating icons, and Rippon striking internet fame. But just four years ago, the friends found themselves in tears after they narrowly missed an opportunity to participate in the 2014 Sochi Games.

“Four years ago, we got In-N-Out . We went back to her house,” Rippon recalled to NBC. “We climbed up to the roof of her house and we were eating In-N-Out because we were so upset that we weren’t at the Olympic Games.”

RELATED: The Most Spectacular Photos from Olympic Opening Ceremonies Past

The athletes sported wide smiles as they appeared on NBC with the medal. In a gif, Nagasu and Rippon are shown gushing over the win. Nagasu quote tweeted the post on to her account, writing, “Omg we need a new emoji for whatever I’m doing.”

The pair also share a celebrity fan: Reese Witherspoon. The Oscar-winning star called Rippon “Reason #1” to watch the Olympics, just before the Games kicked off last week. Rippon playfully noted that “I want to make Reese Wtherspoon proud” in an interview after his skate. She responded Monday morning to confirm that he indeed makes her “so proud.”

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The actress also traded tweets with Nagasu after the skater landed her history-making jump Sunday night, calling her “MY hero !!” after Nagasu noted that she watched the Witherspoon flick Home Again on the way to the Olympics. “I know it’s a movie but I wished you were my mom. You’re my hero.”

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The friends appear to have been enjoying their Olympics stint from the start. Just before Team USA marched out into the PyeongChang Olympic Stadium, Rippon was shown planting a kiss on Nagasu’s cheek in a Snapchat video.

The 2018 Winter Olympics are airing live on NBC. To learn more, visit teamusa.org.

NBC fires Olympic analyst after comment on Japan's role in South Korea's development: report

NBC reportedly fired one of its Olympic analysts who praised Japan’s role in South Korea’s economic development, and disregarding Tokyo’s rule with an iron first from 1940 to 1945, which is still a sensitive subject to many in Seoul.

Figure Skating Legends React to Mirai Nagasu's Historic Olympic Triple Axel: 'What a Triumph'

U.S. figure skater Mirai Nagasu made history Monday morning in Korea when she became the very first American female to land a triple axel at the Olympics.

The stunning feat was quickly celebrated on Twitter by numerous legends in the skating world, several of whom said they were moved to tears over the accomplishment.

“That was a sloppy cry kind of skate,” tweeted ice dancing legend Meryl Davis, who won gold at the 2014 Olympics with partner Charlie White, and silver at the 2010 Games.

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Kristi Yamaguchi, who took home a gold medal at the 1992 Olympics, also tweeted that she was crying “tears of joy” for Nagasu over the successful jump.

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Scott Hamilton, who took home gold in the 1984 Olympics, tweeted that he was “thrilled” for Nagasu, noting that “great things happen to good people.”

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Ashley Wagner, who narrowly missed her chance to compete at the 2018 Olympics after she was named first alternate last month, also tweeted kudos to her friend and competitor.

“So proud of this girl, such an inspiration with what she has done to her career.”

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Sarah Hughes, who took home gold in 2002, expressed her excitement through emojis — specifically three biceps — to show the importance of the moment.

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Keep Following PEOPLE’s Complete Coverage of the 2018 Winter Olympics

Nagasu completed the triple axel at the start of her free skate in the figure skating team event on Monday morning (Sunday evening stateside), which set herself apart from the competition: None of the other women even planned to attempt the triple axel, which requires a forward takeoff and three-and-a-half rotations in the air.

People’s special issue The Best of Olympic Figure Skating is available now in the Time Inc. store, on Amazon, and wherever magazines are sold.

Only two other U.S. female figure skaters have pulled off a triple axel in competition: First was Tonya Harding, during the national championship in 1991, followed by Kimmie Meissner in 2005.

After making history in Korea, Nagasu told PEOPLE “It’s a lot of pressure and stress to come out here — and it was my goal and my dream to be here and to be selected to the Olympic team, so I knew going into it the amount of responsibility that I was given, and so as athletes we want to represent our country to the best of our ability and you know — Midori Ito, Mao Asada and now Mirai Nagasu, all of Japanese heritage.

“But I’m very fortunate that I’m American and so I’ll be the first U.S. lady to have landed the triple axel,” she continued. “And so today is a day of accomplishment for me.”

with reporting by ADAM CARLSON

 

Adam Rippon Jokes About Twitter's Love for Him After Olympic Debut: 'Maybe You Can Be on a Judging Panel Someday'

Olympic figure skater Adam Rippon loves Twitter — and it loves him right back.

Minutes after a free skate in the figure skating team event on Monday morning at the Winter Games in South Korea and Rippon, 28, was already a trending topic on the site in the U.S., with users alternately basking in his third-place finish and confusedly wondering how he came in behind Mikhail Kolyada, the Olympic athlete from Russia.

Less than a point separated them (though to judge solely by the audience’s reaction in the 12,000-seat Gangneung Ice Arena, Rippon appeared to have the more compelling skate).

“I can’t control the score,” Rippon, 28, tells PEOPLE not long after leaving the rink. “But to the people that were distressed — I hope maybe you can be on a judging panel someday.”

Keep Following PEOPLE’s Complete Coverage of the 2018 Winter Olympics

Speaking to reporters after he competed, Rippon said he was proud of his Olympic debut, both for himself and for what it contributed to America’s chances of a podium spot in the team event.

“I’m really excited that I was able to kind of go out there, show who I am, skate so strong,” he said, “and more than that, I really hope I can help Team USA get a medal today.”

Skating first to The Cinematic Orchestra’s “Arrival of the Birds” and then to “O” by Coldplay, and while he admitted to an attack of nerves just before taking the ice, Rippon seemed to skate without a hitch. As he finished, to waves of applause from the crowd, the moment caught up with him and celebration broke across his face.

“I hope there’s a skating judge who’s like, ‘Uh hey guys, Adam Rippon didn’t give us quads but he did give us THE TRUTH,’ ” writer Louis Virtel tweeted.

RELATED VIDEO: Kids Interview the 2018 Winter Olympic Athletes

In recent days Rippon has become something of a social media sensation, both among spectators at home and celebrities (including Reese Witherspoon) who are charmed by his drive, wit and candor.

An alternate at the 2010 Winter Games who missed the cut in 2014, and already a history-maker for being the first openly gay athlete to ever compete for America in the Winter Olympics, Rippon said later that what he has accomplished in spite of his age — skating, as ever, privileges youth — and other obstacles is a victory he will never lose.

He has also not shied away from the role fame gives him as an advocate for the broader LGBTQ community.

PEOPLE’s special issue The Best of Olympic Figure Skating is available now in the Time Inc. store, on Amazon and wherever magazines are sold.

“I came here to do a job,” he said, “and I think that being vocal has kind of given my skating more importance. It’s not just for me. I got out there because — it’s not just gay kids, I think that everybody can relate to being different or feeling like they’re not good enough or they’ll never make it because they’re from a small town, or maybe they just don’t feel like they’re good enough.”

“Well I had those doubts too,” Rippon continued. “And I say that I can go out there and I want to show those young kids that anything is possible. It doesn’t matter where you’re from or what other people say about you, you can put that all behind you and you can go out there and show the world what you have to offer.”

And while he joked with PEOPLE about his impending individual mens performance (“I definitely want to get a few more points, talk to those people on Twitter”), he did not let the significance of the day slip past him.

“This is a moment I’ve been waiting for my entire life,” he said. “Now I’m actually an Olympian. They have footage, they can pull it up. We love the records. Let the record show: Adam Rippon is an Olympian.”

The 2018 Winter Olympics are airing live on NBC. To learn more, visit teamusa.org.

Olympic Snowboarder Chloe Kim's Mom Shows Off Her American and Korean Flag Nail Art: 'Ready to Watch Chloe NAIL It!'

Teenage snowboarder Chloe Kim’s mom is showing off her Olympic pride in style.

Boran Kim posted a photo to Instagram on Sunday of the patriotic fingernail art that she’s sporting in support of her 17-year-old daughter: an American flag on her left forefinger and a Korean flag on her right, a nod to the teen’s dual heritage.

“Ready to watch Chloe NAIL it! :)” Boran wrote in the caption, prompting a sweet comment from Chloe, who wrote: “my mama is the cutest!”

A California native who took up snowboarding at 4 and who won’t turn 18 until the spring, Chloe is widely expected to earn a spot on the podium in the Winter Games’ snowboard halfpipe later this week.

She will compete in a qualifying run on Monday, in the mountains of Pyeongchang, South Korea.

Keep Following PEOPLE’s Complete Coverage of the 2018 Winter Olympics

The combination of her youth, her SoCal-inflected personality and her dominant athletic ability has made Chloe one of the American stars of these Olympics, only a few days in.

At a news conference last week, after she arrived, journalists thronged around her.

“I think … wooo,” she said then. “It’s kind of crazy. I think this is the craziest place I’ve been so far, just all of these cameras and like the media village days, too, have been pretty crazy, but it’s all part of the experience.”

She is joined in Pyeongchang by her parents, who immigrated to the U.S. from South Korea more than 20 years ago. Chloe previously told PEOPLE she feels she can “represent both Korea and America.”

RELATED VIDEO: Kids Interview the 2018 Winter Olympic Athletes

At a practice on Saturday, Chloe was watched by her dad, flashing him a big smile at the end of each run.

“My parents are really excited about it, and it’s some crazy luck that my first Olympics are going to be in Korea where my parents are from,” she said in the fall. “And a lot of my relatives over there have never really seen me compete before, so I think it’s going to be pretty cool for everyone.

“It’s really exciting, my whole family is really excited about it, so that gets me even more stoked!”

The 2018 Winter Olympics are airing live on NBC. To learn more, visit teamusa.org.

Spirited Skater Adam Rippon Counts Reese Witherspoon Among His Olympic Fans: 'I Love to Be Different'

He’s an Olympic newbie at age 28 — and the very first openly gay U.S. athlete to qualify for the Winter Olympics — but figure skater Adam Rippon doesn’t mind standing out from the crowd.

“I’m one of the oldest figure skaters competing now in the world on the Olympic level. I think in the past that would’ve discouraged me, but it kind of really motivates me because it’s different and I love to be different,” Rippon told PEOPLE in the months leading up to the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics, where the takes the ice Sunday night in the states (Monday morning in Korea) as part of the figure skating team medal event.

“I love to have my own story, my own path and forge ahead because my career isn’t going to be like anyone else’s,” he added.

After Rippon was named to the 2018 U.S. Olympic team in December, the athlete subtly noted him place in LGBT history — posting two Instagram photos of himself along with several emojis, including a gay symbol.

The Scranton, Pennsylvania, native also recently talked about what it’s like to be a gay athlete in sports, joking both in an interview and on Twitter that “it’s exactly like being a straight athlete. Lots of hard work but usually done with better eye brows.”

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More seriously, however, Rippon made headlines for publicly clashing with Vice President Mike Pence over the politician’s record on LGBT right.

According to a report published by USA Today on Wednesday, a member of Pence’s staff reached out to the U.S. Olympic Committee to set up a conversation between the 58-year-old politician and the 28-year-old athlete back in January.

The alleged request came the same day USA Today published an interview with Rippon in which he said he wanted to skip the standard meet-and-greet event between Team USA athletes and the American delegation, which is being led by Pence for this year’s opening ceremony.

“You mean Mike Pence, the same Mike Pence that funded gay conversion therapy?” Rippon, who publicly came out as gay in 2015, said in the Jan. 17 piece. “I’m not buying it.” (A rep for Pence told PEOPLE at the time that the vice president does not and has never supported conversion therapy.)

Last month, Rippon told PEOPLE he stands by his USA Today comments.

“I just don’t think that’s right,” he says, “and I think there are so many people who also don’t think that’s right and I think right now more than ever I have this window of time to say what I feel and hopefully make a change.”

“My mom has always taught me to stand up for people who don’t have a voice,” he added.

 On Wednesday, Pence tweeted directly to Rippon, stating “I want you to know we are FOR YOU. Don’t let fake news distract you. I am proud of you and ALL OF OUR GREAT athletes and my only hope for you and all of #TeamUSA is to bring home the gold. Go get ‘em!”

In his original conversation with USA Today, Rippon said he would be open to meeting with Pence after the Olympic games.

RELATED VIDEO: Ashley Wagner Thinks Adam Rippon in the Olympics Will Change How People ‘Interact with the LGBT Community’

Pence controversy aside, Rippon does have one celebrity staunchly in his corner: Oscar-winning actress Reese Witherspoon.

“Reason #1 to Watch #WinterOlympics2018 : ADAM RIPPON” she tweeted Wednesday, which prompted a characteristically fun response from the skater.

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Although Rippon knows how to have fun, hard work — and overcoming adversity — is also something Rippon knows a lot about.

Just as his career was rising — thanks to his winning the world junior championships in 2008 and 2009, and serving as an Olympic alternate in 2010 — he missed being included on the 2014 Winter Olympic team. The setback was difficult for Rippon, but it also provided the champion figure skater with a renewed sense of fervor.

“I didn’t know if I wanted to compete, I had lost the reason why I was continuing to practice, train and compete because it’s hard. It’s grueling,” Rippon tells PEOPLE. “But I found that that was where my passion was at — it was in the everyday grind. It was improving and I still felt that at my very core I had so much more to give.”

Keep Following PEOPLE’s Complete Coverage of the 2018 Winter Olympics

Through the years, Rippon says his best friend, figure skater Ashley Wagner, helped him to realize the power that comes from embracing his own path instead of trying to follow in the steps of the legendary skaters of the past.

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Missing the Olympic team gave Rippon the motivation to do things his way, and focus on having more fun with his performances. He was going to skate his best — while dancing to music he liked — without concerning himself with pleasing everyone else.

“I said, ‘I’m going to do this for myself,’ ” Rippon recalls. “As soon as I said that, I had a complete breakthrough.”

This personal revolution led to Rippon’s first national title in 2016. He placed sixth at the World Championships in Boston that year, and though he didn’t win, the audience gave him a standing ovation once his performance, set to a medley of Beatles songs, came to an end.

This freedom of dancing to the music he likes is something he is going to continue at the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang.

“When I was choosing my programs for this season, I really wanted to skate to pieces of music that really resonated with me personally. As an audience member, I like to watch what they’re doing and that’s one of the reasons I love skating because it’s a performance, and I love to perform,” Rippon says. “That’s my favorite aspect of skating.”

At the Games, Rippon’s upcoming free skate medley will feature  “O” by Coldplay and “Arrival of the Birds,” the latter of which has special meaning.

In 2017, when he was warming up just before the national championships, Rippon sprained his left ankle and fractured his fifth metatarsal bone in his left foot. The injury led to his withdrawal from the championships. For Rippon, “Arrival of the Birds” will signify both his recovery and return.

“It’s about a bird who is the leader of the flock and then has a broken wing, but then regains their strength and they find themselves flying free to victory,” Rippon explains. “This season I’m coming off of that injury, but I’m so much stronger because of that. I never lost sight of what my goals were and I think that program is my story—I’m going to fly free. I can do it.”

He adds: “That broken wing is a metaphor for my broken foot, or falling short of the goals and the dreams that I’ve had before. But I won’t let that hold me back.”

What Rippon enjoys the most about skating is the “superhuman” feeling that comes over him while he is taking off, gliding through the air, and just before hitting that perfect landing just a split second later.

“You feel so powerful. It’s such an awesome experience,” he says, adding that the feeling is only heightened during competition. “Those are the moments athletes live for — we live for those exhilarating, breathless, take your breath away you’re on the seat of your chair moments. I think that in combination with a performance with the element of risk, that’s what makes skating so special.”

Reporting by ADAM CARLSON

Figure Skater Adam Rippon Jokes About His Teeth Bleaching Ahead of Olympic Debut

When figure skater Adam Rippon competes in his first Winter Olympics on Monday in South Korea, the smile he flashes may look a little shinier than normal — with good reason.

“I’ve been bleaching my teeth for the past few days and now the wind that I create from just talking makes them hurt,” he tweeted on Sunday. “Like, I think this is a sign that I’m officially ready for my Olympic debut.”

Rippon, 28, is the first openly gay athlete to qualify for Team USA in a Winter Games. He is also something of a noted Twitter aficionado, mixing on his timeline jokes, gratitude, shade and shout-outs to the celebrities for whom he has become a breakout star.

Sharing a recent piece about him in GQhe wrote of one of the photos accompanying the article: “I’m sitting in a Kohl’s parking lot bush. With the lights from the Taco Bell next door twinkling in my eye, Ryan Pfluger has never made me feel more beautiful.”

In an interview with the magazine, he said, “I’m proud of a lot of things I’ve said on Twitter.”

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Rippon, a former national champion, will compete in the men’s free skate during the figure skating team competition Monday. Joining him from Team USA will be Mirai Nagasu and ice dancing siblings Alex and Maia Shibutani.

While he was briefly involved in a dispute with Vice President Mike Pence, Rippon has said in recent days he is focused on competing, and he appears to be soaking up the pageantry and goodwill of the Games.

Walking during the opening ceremony, he shared a photo with freestyle skier Gus Kenworthy, another openly gay athlete. (Kenworthy previously told PEOPLE he and Rippon were “excited to hang out and kiki in Korea.”)

Keep Following PEOPLE’s Complete Coverage of the 2018 Winter Olympics

Not long after the Olympics opened, Rippon wrote — on Twitter, of course — that “tonight I walked in the #OpeningCeremony and got to watch my old friend @Yunaaaa light the Olympic flame.”

“Representing the USA is one of the greatest honors of my life,” he continued, “and being able to do it as my authentic self makes it all so much sweeter.”

The 2018 Winter Olympics are airing live on NBC. To learn more, visit teamusa.org.