“I couldn’t have done this [shoot] while I was in the closet,” Rippon, who came out publicly in 2015, told the magazine. “I think that, with my experience of coming out, I felt so liberated in so many ways.”
Rippon was fresh off of his bronze-medalist performance at the 2018 Winter Olympics during the shoot, and said that he expects his body to change now.
“I don’t want to say I’ll never be in this shape again, but I’ll never be in this shape. I’ll be in another shape,” he said. “This is a milestone of all the work it took me to get to the point to be an Olympic medal-winning figure skater.”
That figure skater strength is something that Rippon believes is underappreciated among athletes.
“I don’t think figure skaters get the credit we deserve, but at the same time, that’s our job … the whole point is that it looks really easy,” he said.
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Rippon added that his view of his body — and what it means to be masculine — is maturing with him.
“As I’ve gotten older, I’ve redefined to myself what being masculine is and, to me, being masculine is owning yourself as a man,” he said. “Maybe I’m not typically masculine, but I feel like a strong-ass man when I go out there and compete.”
Rippon is one of 16 athletes who posed for ESPN‘s Body Issue, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary, and hits newsstands June 29.