Gus Kenworthy Talks Bond with Adam Rippon: We'll Be 'Friends for Life' (but We Aren't Dating)

It’s the friendship that launched a thousand retweets … and at least a few mistaken assumptions about romance.

Skier Gus Kenworthy and figure skater Adam Rippon have stirred social media buzz throughout the 2018 Winter Olympics, not just for being the only two openly gay men on Team USA but also because they’ve been more than willing to document their time together on Instagram and Twitter.

Kenworthy, 26, sat down with PEOPLE this week in Pyeongchang, South Korea, not long after a disappointing showing in the men’s slopestyle event, where he won an Olympic silver medal four years ago.

Among other topics he talked about his friendship with the 28-year-old Rippon, how they met and how they’ll probably be stuck together for good. (The night of the interview, their families were planning to get dinner together.)

Oh and also: They are not boyfriends.

“People really think we’re dating,” Kenworthy says, with some responses to a recent photo of him and his boyfriend, actor Matthew Wilkas, basically amounting to: But what about Adam?

“I was like, ‘I mean, I think he’s okay with it, like we’ve been together for two-and-a-half years so I don’t know,’ ” Kenworthy says jokingly, adding: “Maybe like throuple ? I don’t know, I mean I’m open to it. It’s 2018.”

He says he and Rippon first met via Instagram and bonded in part over their similar situations.

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“Us becoming friends just happened kind of naturally,” Kenworthy tells PEOPLE. “The first time I heard about him was because he was one of the other openly gay athletes trying to make it to the Games. And so I started following him and he was following me, and we started exchanging messages and catching up on each other’s qualifying processes and rooting each other on.”

“It’s a stressful time in any athlete’s life, and we were sort of dealing with the same pressures,” he explains. “So I think we had a lot to kind of connect over.”

At last they met in person and “it was just like sparks flying, like instant friends, fast friends,” Kenworthy says.

“I love the guy. I think he’s hilarious, I think he’s so sweet, so charming,” he says of Rippon, “so I’m very excited about our friendship.”


Their time together at the Olympics in Korea has already seen a slew of gushed-over selfies as well as the back-and-forth of affectionate tweets. Kenworthy cheered from the stands at Rippon’s first individual figure skating competition and Rippon posted in support of Kenworthy before his own competition.

They “didn’t ever talk about having a social media presence together,” Kenworthy says, “but I think that it was sort of obvious.”

“I mean, I think I wanted to show support for him, because I am so proud of him and I’m so proud of our entire LGBT community, regardless of whether it’s in sports of elsewhere,” he says “But I think it’s important in sports, where we have pretty minimal representation, to kind of stand beside each other and make sure that our impact can be great.”

And while Kenworthy says some new friends at the Olympics may be more conditional (“you’re cheering for them and you want them to do well, but then you probably aren’t going to see them again after this”), his and Adam’s friendship is not.

“I think that Adam and I will be friends for life.”

The 2018 Winter Olympics are airing live on NBC. To learn more, visit teamusa.org.