Olympic figure skater Adam Rippon is showing off his enviable shape and strength in the latest issue of ESPN The Magazine‘s annual Body Issue. The 28-year-old figure skater was nude for the stunning photo shoot.
Posing nude was something Rippon stated he would have never undertaken several years ago. Since coming out as gay, the athlete reveals he feels “liberated.”
“I couldn’t have done this [shoot] while I was in the closet,” Rippon stated to the magazine, as reported by People. “I think that, with my experience of coming out, I felt so liberated in so many ways.”
The bronze-medal winner from the 2018 Winter Olympics posed for the revealing shoot just after scoring a third place win at the event held in Pyeongchang County, Gangwon Province, South Korea.
“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 of his body image now that his intense training for the event is over. “This is a milestone of all the work it took me to get to the point to be an Olympic medal-winning figure skater.”
Rippon remarked that fans likely don’t understand just how much physical, emotional and mental strength it takes to make the sport look easy. He feels the sport is “underappreciated” among other 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.
The Dancing with the Stars: Athletes Edition mirrorball winner said that the way he looks at his body and the idea of being masculine has changed as well.
“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 quipped that his bronze medal is uniquely stained since he took home the honors and it has something to do with a particularly memorable meal of Korean barbeque.
“Mine actually has barbecue sauce on it,” Rippon said in an interview, as published by NBC Sports of his PyeongChang team event bronze medal, “because I did an interview, and somebody was cooking at the same time, and they’re like, ‘Come over here.’ I went over there, and I have, like, barbecue sauce on it.”
Rippon is one of 16 premier athletes who posed for ESPN’s Body Issue. The magazine hits newsstands June 29.