Adam Rippon says baring (almost) all for the cameras made him feel “liberated” ― in more ways than one.
The Olympic figure skater is one of 16 athletes to strip down for ESPN The Magazine’s Body Issue, which hits newsstands on June 29. In his photos, the 28-year-old Pennsylvania native, who made history earlier this year as one of the first openly gay men to compete for the U.S. in the Winter Olympics, takes to the ice in nothing but a pair of skates.
“I couldn’t have done this [shoot] while I was in the closet,” Rippon told ESPN, according to People. “I think that, with my experience of coming out [in 2015], I felt so liberated in so many ways.”
He went on to call the photos “a milestone of all the work it took me to get to the point to be an Olympic medal-winning figure skater.”
“I don’t want to say I’ll never be in this shape again, but I’ll never be in this shape,” he explained. “I’ll be in another shape. … 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.”
While Rippon recognizes that other people may not see him as “typically masculine,” the skater told ESPN that he’s “redefined to myself what being masculine is” in recent years.
“I feel like a strong-ass man when I go out there and compete,” he added.
Among the other athletes featured in the Body Issue, which celebrates its 10th anniversary this year, are Houston Astros pitcher Dallas Keuchel, Minnesota Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns and Seattle Reign forward Megan Rapinoe.