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US Figure Skating announces men's roster for Winter Olympics: Chen, Zhou and Rippon

Helene Elliott, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Olympics

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Adam Rippon won a reprieve after his subpar, fourth-place performance at the U.S. figure skating championships when a selection committee awarded him a berth on the Pyeongchang Olympic team over second-place finisher Ross Miner.

The announcement, made Sunday morning, was based on the superiority of Rippon's body of work over the last year when compared with that of Miner, said Samuel Auxier, president of U.S Figure Skating. Jason Brown, who was a 2014 Olympian but finished sixth here, was named the first alternate to the Pyeongchang Olympic team. Miner was designated the second alternate.

As expected, two-time U.S. champion Nathan Chen, 18 -- who performed five quadruple jumps in his long program Saturday night to become the runaway winner -- was chosen for the team, as was third-place finisher Vincent Zhou, 17, who was the 2017 world junior champion.

Zhou also reels off quadruple jumps with apparent ease. Rippon is considered more of an artist than a jumper and is popular among skating fans for his musicality and performance skills.

"We feel we have a very strong team, the right team, based on the selection criteria," Auxier said, noting that the selection process had been complicated by the "somewhat flawed" performances Saturday night from some of the top men.

"I'm really glad the selection committee looked at my body of work over the last two seasons," said Rippon, 28, who was the 2016 U.S. men's champion but missed the national and world championships last year because of a broken leg.

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He qualified for the Grand Prix Final in 2016 and again this season, which carried great weight with the selection committee.

"I feel like I have a really great resume. I'm really proud of the work that I've done over the past four years," Rippon said. "Four years ago I didn't know if I wanted to continue skating. And a year ago I was sitting in a cast, so I've had my share of ups and downs but I've been very consistent and I'm very grateful for this opportunity. And I feel that my experience will help me have my best performances at the Olympic Games, and it feels amazing to say that."

Auxier said the committee found Miner's resume to be weaker than Rippon's over the designated competitions (U.S. and world championships as well as Grand Prix events) over the last year.

"We are looking for the athletes that consistently performed across the Grand Prixes, internationally, who can get the scores and who are most likely to perform well at the Olympics," Auxier said. "Ross had an amazing, lights-out performance. He's a great example for our young skaters. He's been a tremendous athlete over the years in terms of giving some great performances and being a great example for our association. And congratulations to him for really putting it out (Saturday) night.

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