Rippon rips pick of VP Mike Pence to lead U.S. Olympic delegation

Olympian Adam Rippon doesn't think Vice President Mike Pence is the right man for the job.

Rippon, the 2016 U.S. figure skating champion and an openly gay member of the American team heading to South Korea for the Winter Games, is not a fan of the White House's pick to lead the official U.S. Olympic delegation next month.

"You mean Mike Pence, the same Mike Pence that funded gay conversion therapy?" Rippon asked when interviewed by USA TODAY Sports' Christine Brennan.

Rippon, who finished fourth at the recent U.S. national championships, wasn't shy about voicing his opinion.

"I don't think (Pence) has a real concept of reality," Rippon told USA TODAY Sports. "To stand by some of the things that Donald Trump has said and for Mike Pence to say he's devout Christian man is completely contradictory. If he's okay with what's being said about people and Americans and foreigners and about different countries that are being called 's--tholes,' I think he should really go to church."

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Adam Rippon, the US' first openly gay Winter Olympian
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Adam Rippon, the US' first openly gay Winter Olympian
PYEONGCHANG-GUN, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 12: Adam Rippon of the United States skates during the Men's Single Skating section of the Team Event on day three of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at Gangneung Ice Arena on February 12, 2018 in Gangneung, South Korea. (Photo by Amin Mohammad Jamali/Getty Images)
GANGNEUNG, SOUTH KOREA FEBRUARY 12, 2018: Figure skater Mirai Nagasu of the United States with her coach Tom Zakrajsek (L-R front) wait for the score after performing during the ladies' free skating event as part of the figure skating team event at the 2018 Winter Olympic Games, at the Gangneung Ice Arena. Pictured back are figure skaters Alexa Scimeca Knierim, Bradie Tennell, Adam Rippon, Chris Knierim, and Nathan Chen. Valery Sharifulin/TASS (Photo by Valery Sharifulin\TASS via Getty Images)
PYEONGCHANG-GUN, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 13: United States Figure Skater Adam Rippon speaks during a press conference at the Main Press Centre on February 13, 2018 in Pyeongchang-gun, South Korea. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
GANGNEUNG, SOUTH KOREA FEBRUARY 12, 2018: Figure skater Adam Rippon of the United States performs during the men's free skating event as part of the figure skating team event at the 2018 Winter Olympic Games, at the Gangneung Ice Arena. Valery Sharifulin/TASS (Photo by Valery Sharifulin\TASS via Getty Images)
SAN JOSE, CA - JANUARY 07: Adam Rippon skates in the Smucker's Skating Spectacular during the 2018 Prudential U.S. Figure Skating Championships at the SAP Center on January 7, 2018 in San Jose, California. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
SAN JOSE, CA - JANUARY 06: Adam Rippon confers with coach Rafael Arutunian before skating in the Men's Free Skate during the 2018 Prudential U.S. Figure Skating Championships at the SAP Center on January 6, 2018 in San Jose, California. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
SAN JOSE, CA - JANUARY 06: Adam Rippon competes in the Men's Free Skate during the 2018 Prudential U.S. Figure Skating Championships at the SAP Center on January 6, 2018 in San Jose, California. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
SAN JOSE, CA - JANUARY 04: Adam Rippon competes in the Men's Short Program during the 2018 Prudential U.S. Figure Skating Championships at the SAP Center on January 4, 2018 in San Jose, California. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
SAN JOSE, CA - JANUARY 04: Adam Rippon reacts to his score in the kiss and cry with his coaches Rafael Arutunian and Derrick Delmore after skating in the Men's Short Program during the 2018 Prudential U.S. Figure Skating Championships at the SAP Center on January 4, 2018 in San Jose, California. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
NAGOYA, JAPAN - DECEMBER 10: Adam Rippon of the USA performs his routine in the Gala exhibition during the ISU Junior & Senior Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final at Nippon Gaishi Hall on December 10, 2017 in Nagoya, Japan. (Photo by Atsushi Tomura - ISU/ISU via Getty Images)
LAKE PLACID, NY - NOVEMBER 25: Adam Rippon of the United States looks on prior to competing in the Men's Free Skating during day two of 2017 Bridgestone Skate America at Herb Brooks Arena on November 25, 2017 in Lake Placid, New York. (Photo by Tim Bradbury/Getty Images)
LAKE PLACID, NY - NOVEMBER 25: Adam Rippon of the United States performs in the Mens Free Skate program on Day 2 of the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating at Herb Brooks Arena on November 25, 2017 in Lake Placid, United States. (Photo by Maddie Meyer - ISU/ISU via Getty Images)
This picture taken on November 11, 2017 shows Adam Rippon of the US during the award ceremony of the men's free skating event in the NHK Trophy figure skating competition in Osaka. / AFP PHOTO / KAZUHIRO NOGI (Photo credit should read KAZUHIRO NOGI/AFP/Getty Images)
PARK CITY, UT - SEPTEMBER 25: Figure skater Adam Rippon poses for a portrait during the Team USA Media Summit ahead of the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games on September 25, 2017 in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
PARK CITY, UT - SEPTEMBER 25: Figure skater Adam Rippon poses for a portrait during the Team USA Media Summit ahead of the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games on September 25, 2017 in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
USA's Adam Rippon competes in the senior men short program at the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final, on December 8, 2016 in Marseille, southern France. / AFP / ANNE-CHRISTINE POUJOULAT (Photo credit should read ANNE-CHRISTINE POUJOULAT/AFP/Getty Images)
PARIS, FRANCE - NOVEMBER 12: Adam Rippon of the United States competes during Men's Free Skating on day two of the Trophee de France ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating at Accorhotels Arena on November 12, 2016 in Paris, France. (Photo by Joosep Martinson - ISU/ISU via Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 22: Adam Rippon of the United States waits for his score to be announced on day 2 of the Grand Prix of Skating at the Sears Centre Arena on October 22, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Stacy Revere - ISU/ISU via Getty Images)
Figure Skating ? Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics ? Men Single Skating short program competition ? Gangneung Ice Arena - Gangneung, South Korea ? February 16, 2018 - Adam Rippon of the U.S. performs. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj
Figure Skating ? Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics ? Men Single Skating short program competition ? Gangneung Ice Arena - Gangneung, South Korea ? February 16, 2018 - Adam Rippon of the U.S. performs. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj
GANGNEUNG, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 16: Adam Rippon of USA during the Figure Skating Men Short Program on day seven of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at Gangneung Ice Arena on February 16, 2018 in Gangneung, South Korea. (Photo by Jean Catuffe/Getty Images)
GANGNEUNG, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 16: Adam Rippon of USA during the Figure Skating Men Short Program on day seven of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at Gangneung Ice Arena on February 16, 2018 in Gangneung, South Korea. (Photo by Jean Catuffe/Getty Images)
GANGNEUNG, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 16: Adam Rippon of the United States reacts after competing during the Men's Single Skating Short Program at Gangneung Ice Arena on February 16, 2018 in Gangneung, South Korea. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
GANGNEUNG, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 16: Adam Rippon of the United States reacts after competing during the Men's Single Skating Short Program at Gangneung Ice Arena on February 16, 2018 in Gangneung, South Korea. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
GANGNEUNG, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 16: Adam Rippon of the United States reacts after competing during the Men's Single Skating Short Program at Gangneung Ice Arena on February 16, 2018 in Gangneung, South Korea. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
GANGNEUNG, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 16: Adam Rippon of the United States reacts after competing during the Men's Single Skating Short Program at Gangneung Ice Arena on February 16, 2018 in Gangneung, South Korea. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
GANGNEUNG, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 16: Adam Rippon of the United States competes during the Men's Single Skating Short Program at Gangneung Ice Arena on February 16, 2018 in Gangneung, South Korea. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
GANGNEUNG, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 16: Adam Rippon of the United States competes during the Men's Single Skating Short Program at Gangneung Ice Arena on February 16, 2018 in Gangneung, South Korea. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
PYEONGCHANG-GUN, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 13: United States Figure Skater Adam Rippon speaks during a press conference at the Main Press Centre on February 13, 2018 in Pyeongchang-gun, South Korea. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
PYEONGCHANG-GUN, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 13: United States Figure Skater Adam Rippon speaks during a press conference at the Main Press Centre on February 13, 2018 in Pyeongchang-gun, South Korea. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
PYEONGCHANG-GUN, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 12: (L-R) Bronze medalists Nathan Chen, Adam Rippon, Mirai Nagasu and Bradie Tennell of Team United States celebrate during the medal ceremony after the Figure Skating Team Event at Medal Plaza on February 12, 2018 in Pyeongchang-gun, South Korea. (Photo by Adam Pretty/Getty Images)
USA's Adam Rippon reacts after finishing his routine in the figure skating team event men's single skating free skating during the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at the Gangneung Ice Arena in Gangneung on February 12, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / Roberto SCHMIDT (Photo credit should read ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP/Getty Images)
USA's Adam Rippon (C) reacts after competing in the figure skating team event men's single skating free skating during the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at the Gangneung Ice Arena in Gangneung on February 12, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / Roberto SCHMIDT (Photo credit should read ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP/Getty Images)
GANGNEUNG, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 12: Adam Rippon of the United States competes in the Figure Skating Team Event � Men's Single Free Skating on day three of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at Gangneung Ice Arena on February 12, 2018 in Gangneung, South Korea. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
January 4, 2018; San Jose, CA, USA; Adam Rippon reacts in kiss and cry in the mens short program during the 2018 U.S. Figure Skating Championships at SAP Center. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
January 6, 2018; San Jose, CA, USA; (L-R) Second place Ross Miner, first place Nathan Chen, third place Vincent Zhou, and fourth place Adam Rippon pose for a photo after the men's free skate program during the 2018 U.S. Figure Skating Championships at SAP Center. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
Figure Skating ? Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics ? Training ? Gangneung Ice Arena - Gangneung, South Korea ? February 7, 2018 - Adam Rippon of the U.S. during practice. REUTERS/John Sibley
Figure Skating - ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating NHK Trophy - Men's Winners Ceremony - Osaka, Japan - November 11, 2017 - Silver medalist Adam Rippon of the U.S. celebrates during the victory ceremony. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon
Figure Skating - ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Trophee de France 2016/2017 - Men's Free Skate - Paris, France - 12/11/16 - Adam Rippon of United States skates. REUTERS/Charles Platiau
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When asked about a possible meet-and-greet with the VP - which could happen before the opening ceremony - Rippon was equally as blunt.

"If it were before my event, I would absolutely not go out of my way to meet somebody who I felt had gone out of their way to not only show that they aren't a friend of a gay person, but that they think that they're sick."

The former Indiana governor has a long history of opposing policies that protect LGBTQ Americans. Pence has described himself as "a Christian, a conservative and a Republican, in that order."

Pence denied supporting conversion therapy - trying to change an individual's sexual orientation - when he joined Donald Trump on the Republican ticket in 2016. But when Pence was running for Congress in 2000 his website called for "resources should be directed toward those institutions which provide assistance to those seeking to change their sexual behavior."

Rippon also joined American skiing superstar Lindsey Vonn in saying he would turn down a post-Olympic invite to visit Trump's White House.

Vonn told CNN in December that she hopes "to represent the people of the United States, not the president."

"I am proud to be an American, and I want our country to continue to be a symbol of hope, compassion, inclusion and world unity," Vonn wrote in an Instagram post. "My travels around the world have recently made clear that this is no longer how people view the United States. You cannot pick up a newspaper or turn on the TV in Europe without noticing how people are questioning our direction. It seems to me that we must lead with understanding and strive for unity in our relationships throughout the world."

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Inside the Pyeongchang Olympic Village
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Inside the Pyeongchang Olympic Village
GANGNEUNG, SOUTH KOREA - OCTOBER 30: A general view of the Olympic Village - Athletes Village ahead of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games on October 30, 2017 in Gangneung, South Korea. (Photo by Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images)
A photo taken on October 30, 2017 shows a general view of a shower room at the Gangneung Hockey Centre ice hockey venue of the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic games, in Gangneung. / AFP PHOTO / Ed JONES (Photo credit should read ED JONES/AFP/Getty Images)
GANGNEUNG, SOUTH KOREA - OCTOBER 30: A general view of the Olympic Village - Athletes Village ahead of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games on October 30, 2017 in Gangneung, South Korea. (Photo by Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images)
GANGNEUNG, SOUTH KOREA - OCTOBER 30: A general view of the Olympic Village - Athletes Village ahead of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games on October 30, 2017 in Gangneung, South Korea. (Photo by Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images)
GANGNEUNG, SOUTH KOREA - OCTOBER 30: A general view of the Olympic Village - Athletes Village ahead of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games on October 30, 2017 in Gangneung, South Korea. (Photo by Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images)
GANGNEUNG, SOUTH KOREA - OCTOBER 30: A general view of the Olympic Village - Athletes Village ahead of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games on October 30, 2017 in Gangneung, South Korea. (Photo by Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images)
GANGNEUNG, SOUTH KOREA - OCTOBER 30: A general view of the Olympic Village - Athletes Village ahead of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games on October 30, 2017 in Gangneung, South Korea. (Photo by Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images)
GANGNEUNG, SOUTH KOREA - OCTOBER 30: A general view of the Olympic Village - Athletes Village ahead of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games on October 30, 2017 in Gangneung, South Korea. (Photo by Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images)
GANGNEUNG, SOUTH KOREA - OCTOBER 30: A general view of the Olympic Village - Athletes Village ahead of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games on October 30, 2017 in Gangneung, South Korea. (Photo by Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images)
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Vonn, who won Olympic gold in the downhill at the Vancouver Games in 2010, said her comments have led to ugly backlash on social media.

"It is hurtful to read comments where people are hoping I break my neck or that God is punishing me for being 'anti-Trump,'" Vonn wrote. "We need to find a way to put aside our differences and find common ground in communicating."

For his part, Rippon said he would be willing to find that common ground with Pence, but only after he's done skating.

"If I had the chance to meet him afterwards, after I'm finished competing, there might be a possibility to have an open conversation," Rippon told the newspaper. "He seems more mild-mannered than Donald Trump. ... But I don't think the current administration represents the values that I was taught growing up. Mike Pence doesn't stand for anything that I really believe in."

Pence is no stranger to the mix of sports and politics. He staged a walk-out in October during a game between the Colts and 49ers over NFL players kneeling during the national anthem.

"I left today's Colts game because @POTUS and I will not dignify any event that disrespects our soldiers, our Flag, or our National Anthem," Pence wrote on Twitter.

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