“It was so nice that they came to the event and I’ll be cheering for Gus tomorrow,” Rippon told reporters afterward. “But to have the support of my friends and family here in the audience, it means the world to me.”
The 28-year-old was seen giving a wave to Kenworthy, 26, who according to his Instagram was sitting with his boyfriend, Matthew Wilkas, and another friend in the stands at the ice arena. The freestyle skier will compete on Sunday in men’s slopestyle, having earned a silver in that same event four years ago.
From the stands during figure skating, Kenworthy’s group held up a rainbow flag for Rippon in his introduction in the rink before competing.
Kenworthy as also one of many loud voices cheering on Rippon from the audience, and he tweeted a video from his arena seat, “About to watch the queen take her crown.”
Kenworthy, who came out in 2015, has said he first struck up a friendship with Rippon, who came out in 2015 and is the first openly gay male athlete to compete for America at a Winter Olympics, via social media and text.
The two then officially met at the opening ceremony for this year’s Olympics, in Pyeongchang, South Korea — with Kenworthy later posting a photo of them in their Ralph Lauren-designed Team USA uniforms.
“I feel incredibly honored to be here in Korea competing for the US and I’m so proud to be representing the LGBTQ community alongside this amazing guy!” he wrote in the caption.
Rippon, too, shared a photo of them together at the opening and he and Kenworthy have continued to trade supportive messages throughout the competition.
“Love you and endlessly proud of you as well,” Rippon tweeted at Kenworthy after the latter shared an essay from Vanity Fair about Rippon’s historic presence as a gay skater. “You are a [star] that gives me and so many others strength to be awesome.”
In another exchange, Kenworthy tweeted several photos of them with the caption, “We’re here. We’re queer. Get used to it.” Rippon retweeted that, adding: “I am 1000% here for this new and beautiful friendship.”
Speaking to PEOPLE before he headed to Korea, Kenworthy said he and Rippon were “excited to hang out and kiki in Korea.”
After skating on Saturday to a 10th place finish overall, Rippon said he was pleased with his performance, which included lifting America to a bronze in the team skating event.
“I’m so glad that I’ve had this opportunity to share my story and share my skating and share who I am with the entire world,” he said.
Kenworthy also reacted to the results, tweeting: “I don’t fully understand figure skating judging so I can’t really speculate on the scoring but @Adaripp’s performance was truly mesmerizing. You’re #1 in our hearts, Adam! So proud of you and inspired by you.”