Detroit — A couple hours before his latest “Stars on Ice” show, Saturday night at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit, Adam Rippon popped out from the backstage beyond and plopped himself down on a rinkside seat to lace up his skates.
Grabbing a seat to his left was his newest figure-skating student, Gus Kenworthy — who, as we’ve all come to know and love, doubles as Rippon’s newest BFF.
Kenworthy, the freestyle skier who won a silver medal at the 2014 Games, is used to flying down hills at ridiculous speeds.
He’s much more cautious when he trades his skis for skates, but ...
”He already knows quite a lot!” Rippon said, gushing during a pre-show chat. “This is my most successful beginning skater!”
Rippon, 28, who took a bronze medal with the figure-skating team in South Korea in February, and Kenworthy, 26, became fast friends prior to and at the 2018 Olympics.
Both men came out publicly in 2015.
The two lit up social media in Pyeongchang with pictures of their Opening Ceremony smooch, and since with their shirtless spread in Out Magazine.
Their bond continues, in an upcoming feature on ABC’s “Nightline” — coinciding with Rippon’s looming appearance on “Dancing with the Stars.” (“Let me tell you,” said Rippon, “it’s a lot fucking harder than I thought.”) Kenworthy is interviewing Rippon for the piece.
And part of the piece is skating lessons.
Rippon and Kenworthy spent about 20 minutes skating at Little Caesars Arena, Kenworthy taking video with a cell phone in his heavily tattooed right arm.
At one point, Rippon shows Kenworthy a mini-jump. At another, Rippon grabs Kenworthy by both arms and leads him around the rink. Occasionally, the two stop when Rippon spots other “Stars on Ice” cast members, introducing them to, “My friend, Gus.” One star skater, after the meet-and-greet, proudly proclaims, “Royalty is in the house.”
The dynamic duo also spends plenty of time mugging for the camera.
Kenworthy didn’t try any outlandish jumps during the brief yet adorable session, but he showed off some skills — working backward with ease, and even interrupting Rippon’s interview with the local press by racing over, breaking and spraying Rippon’s feet with ice shavings.
”Amazing, beautiful and talented,” Rippon said, beaming, a day after he and Kenworthy were among the many Team USA stars to skip a visit to President Trump’s White House. “I’ve taught him so well.”
Tony Paul is a sportswriter for The Detroit News. You can read the highlights of his recent sitdown interview with Adam Rippon HERE. You can follow Paul on Twitter @TonyPaul1984.