At a press conference on Monday, figure skater Adam Rippon said that he was not trying to pick a fight with Vice President Mike Pence.

The 28-year-old Rippon, who came out as gay to Skating magazine in 2015, is one of just a handful of out athletes heading to next month's Olympic Winter Games in South Korea.

Earlier this month, Rippon criticized the White House's selection of Pence to lead the 2018 U.S. Olympic delegation to South Korea.

“If it were before my event, I would absolutely not go out of my way to meet somebody who I felt has 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,” Rippon said, a reference to Pence's reported support for therapies that attempt to alter the sexuality or gender identity of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. A Pence spokesman in 2016 denied that Pence supports so-called conversion therapy.

Pence's press secretary responded to Rippon's comments, saying that the claim that Pence supports such therapies is “totally false” and “has no basis in fact.”

(Related: Trump once joked that Mike Pence “wants to hang” all gay people.)

On Monday, Rippon said that the rebuke “surprised” him.

“It surprised me a lot, but I'm glad. I'm glad my voice has been kind of heard. I mean, I was surprised, but I don't think it was a bad thing,” he said.

He added that his focus remains on training: “I'm trying to train for the biggest competition of my life. I'm not trying to pick a fight with the Vice President of the United States.”