Although it's not a scored competition, the Olympics Figure Skating Exhibition Gala is an opportunity for Olympians to let their hair down, so to speak. The event, which falls at the end of the 2018 Winter Games, signals the end of the Olympics figure skating program and traditionally showcases the talent of top skaters. So, will Adam Rippon perform in the Olympics Exhibition Gala? The popular American skater appears to have been snubbed by the exhibition's organizers.
According to USA Today, Rippon wasn't invited to perform at the 2018 Winter Olympics Figure Skating Exhibition Gala despite having been a crowd favorite throughout the competition. But Rippon wasn't the only American skater to be snubbed. Mirai Nagasu was also reportedly left off the invitation list, meaning there will be no U.S. athlete performing in the singles figure skating portion of the event.
Although Nathan Chen was invited to perform in the exhibition after nabbing a fifth-place finish, the young skater withdrew from the event after he caught the flu and was forced to head home from PyeongChang ahead of schedule, according to U.S. Figure Skating. But the United States will be represented in the exhibition gala by ice dance pairs Alex and Maia Shibutani, who took home bronze medals, and Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue, who finished in fourth.
Given Rippon's personality and presence on the ice, his absence at the Olympics Figure Skating Exhibition Gala is likely to be a huge loss for viewers. At least, that's how Rippon's choreographer Benji Schwimmer tells it in an exclusive interview with Entertainment Tonight. "Adam's piece is gorgeous. People are missing out," Schwimmer said. "This is probably Adam's best movement."
According to Schwimmer, the bonus program Rippon prepared would have served as a sequel to both his free skate in the team competition and his long program. According to Entertainment Tonight, Rippon's exhibition bonus program also would have featured a cover of Rihanna's hit song "Diamonds" that Rippon had recorded himself.
"It was just about being empowered, realizing there's so much beauty the moment you embrace who you are," Schwimmer told the entertainment magazine. "It's about Adam not needing to be in any flock or follow any norms, just learning to love to fly in his own space."
In January, Rippon became the first openly gay U.S. athlete to qualify for a Winter Olympics. He and U.S. snowboarder Gus Kenworthy have since gone on to be the first openly gay men to compete for Team USA in the Winter Olympics. According to the Washington Post, 28-year-old Rippon is also the oldest American figure skater to make an Olympic debut since 1936. And what a debut it was.
Although Rippon finished 10th overall in men's singles skating, he helped Team USA win bronze in the team figure skating event and easily won over audiences with his authenticity, sense of humor, and presence on the ice. In fact, many thought Rippon would be a shoo in for the exhibition gala despite his 10th place finish as the event often features athletes — even if they didn't medal — who prove to be crowd favorites.
Uzbekistan's Misha Ge, for example, was invited to perform at the figure skating exhibition gala despite finishing 17th, according to USA Today. South Korea's Chan Jun-Hwan was also invited to perform despite finishing 15th. Other expected exhibition gala performers include women's gold medalist Alina Zagitova, who competed in the Games as an Olympic Athlete From Russia (OAR), and ice dance mixed champions Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir of Canada.
The 2018 Olympics Figure Skating Exhibition Gala will air Saturday on NBC.