Adam Rippon and Mirai Nagasu share a special bond. It’s about more than just being Olympians. It’s about more than their first Olympic medals, won this past weekend in the team event in PyeongChang. It’s deeper than that. And the emblems of it are matching tattoos.
In fact, it, and the tattoos, stem from missing out on the Olympics. Four years ago, both Rippon and Nagasu were left off the U.S. figure skating team for the 2014 Sochi Games. Nagasu was overlooked despite a third-place finish at the U.S. Championships.
Rippon remembers watching the Sochi Opening Ceremony a month later at Nagasu’s house, and commiserating over In-N-Out burgers. He told Yahoo Sports that story, as well as the one behind the tattoos, on Tuesday ahead of his individual event later this week.
“We sat on the roof,” he recalls. “And we were just kind of talking, we weren’t even watching the Olympics. We were just kind of crying a little bit, and eating [In-N-Out] double-doubles and animal-style fries.
“We were sitting up there, and we were laying back, we looked up at the sky and the stars, and we had a long talk. I remember telling her, ‘I’m so grateful you’re my friend.’”
Rippon says the moment is “still so poignant in my mind.” He says he told Nagasu, “We’ll be able to get through this.”
At some point, Rippon also proposed the idea of the tattoos.
“After everything that we went through four years ago, I said, ‘I want to have a matching tattoo with you,’” he recalls. “You pick what it is, and I’ll get whatever you want.”
Rippon says they joked about getting the Abercrombie moose. But eventually, Nagasu found a glyph – a circle with lines through it – that means “power.”
Rippon got his on his left thigh, just above his kneecap. Nagasu has hers near her wrist. Both are in white ink, as are the rest of Rippon’s tattoos – he says he has “seven or nine.”
“You can hide them pretty well,” Rippon says. “Not everybody can see them.”
But the two Olympic figure skaters, who are rooming together in PyeongChang, know they’re there, and that’s what matters. “It’s something really personal between me and her,” Rippon says. The tattoos strengthen the bond that was built throughout years of skating – and on Nagasu’s roof.
“There’s been a lot of ups and downs since then,” Rippon says. “To be here now, especially with her of all people, is crazy.
“So if you’re ever depressed,” Rippon concludes with a smile, “go to In-N-Out, and four years later, you can be at the Olympics.”