Tara Kristen Lipinski is a retired American figure skater. At the age of 15, she won the ladies’ singles Olympicgold medal in figure skating at the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan, becoming the youngest Olympic gold medalist in ladies’ figure skating in an individual event. She is also the 1997 World Champion (at the age of 14 years, 9 months and 10 days, the youngest person – by 32 days – ever to win a World Figure Skating Championship), two-time Champions Series Final Champion (1997–1998) and 1997 U.S. Champion.
Lipinski was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in June 10, 1982, the daughter of Patricia (née Brozyniak), a secretary, and Jack Lipinski, an oil executive and lawyer, both Polish American. She spent her earliest year.
Tara learned ice figure skating technique from roller skating coaches in the Philadelphia area initially, but her first major competition was the 1990 Eastern Regional Championships for roller skating where she finished second. At the 1991 United States Roller Skating Championships, she won the primary girls freestyle as a nine-year-old.
In 1991, her father’s job required the family to move to Sugar Land, Texas. However, training facilities were not available there. In 1993, Lipinski and her mother moved back to Delaware, where she had trained before. She later moved to Detroit, Michigan, to train withRichard Callaghan.
On March 9, 1998, Lipinski announced her decision to withdraw from the 1998 World Figure Skating Championships, citing a serious glandular infection that required her to have twomolars extracted, constant fatigue, and possible mononucleosis.
On April 7, 1998, Lipinski announced her intention to turn professional in an interview with Katie Couric on the Today Show. She cited a desire to spend more time with her family, to have time for school, and to compete professionally against other Olympic champions. However, given the opportunities available to a newly crowned Olympic champion, Lipinski took on a full schedule of touring, publicity appearances, and acting engagements, albeit that they required constant travel. She was also heavily criticized by some for her decision to retire from competition at such a young age; for example, Christine Brennan, writing in USA Today, compared the pro skating circuit to “joining the circus.” However, the criticism aimed at Lipinski was labelled by one commentator as “petty backlash” following her defeat of the expected-winner Kwan at the Nagano Olympics.
In the spring and summer of 1998, Lipinski toured with Champions on Ice. She then toured with Stars on Ice for four seasons. Lipinski appealed to a younger audience, attracting new fans to what had traditionally been an adult-oriented show. Her signing to Stars on Ice was reported as a coup for the tour, which at that time was doing well, with some performances routinely selling out months in advance. Choreographer Sandra Bezic commented, “Tara reminds us why we’re doing this – the idealism, the genuine love of skating. There’s a real sweetness there that makes us all go, ‘Yeah, I remember’ “. Lipinski generally received favorable reviews and was popular with fans, sometimes signing autographs for hours after each show.
Lipinski’s decision to turn pro coincided with a change in the business climate for the skating industry. After the 1998 Olympics, many of the pro skating competitions that had sprung up in the aftermath of the 1994 Tonya Harding spectacle were converted to a pro-am format or discontinued entirely as audiences lost interest. Lipinski did not want to compete in the new pro-am events, and not long after she turned professional, she broke an existing $1.2 million contract to appear in made-for-TV events sponsored by the USFSA. Instead, she skated only in the remaining all-pro competitions, which were primarily team events such as Ice Wars. Her most notable individual victory came at the 1999 World Professional Figure Skating Championships; at age 17, she became the youngest person to win that event.
Lipinski’s professional skating career was hampered by a series of hip injuries. In August 1998, Lipinski suffered a hip injury in practice for Stars on Ice. In September 2000, she underwent surgery to repair a torn labrum in her hip. She said her hip problem had been misdiagnosed for several years. Lipinski suffered another hip injury in 2002 during a Stars on Ice show in St. Louis, when she fell hard on her right hip during a jump, and then tore muscles around the bruised area the next day.
In October 2013, it was announced that Lipinski would be a commentator and analyst on NBC, NBC Sports and Universal Sports during the Sochi Winter Games. As a result of positive reviews for the event, Lipinski and fellow analyst Johnny Weir were invited to appear as fashion commentators for Access Hollywood at the 86th Academy Awardswith host Billy Bush. In September 2014 Tara Lipinski and Johnny Weir were promoted to NBC’s primary Figure Skating Broadcasting team with Terry Gannon after more than a decade of Scott Hamilton, Sandra Bezic and Tom Hammond at the helm. This promotion meant The B team of NBCSN at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic Games will now be commentating at every major skating event aired on NBC networks including the Grand Prix of Figure Skating: Skate America and the United Stating Figure Skating National Championships. Before this promotion Tara, Johnny and Terry only did the other five Grand Prix events and the Grand Prix Final. While Scott, Sandra and Tom got the bigger events like the National Championships.
The year before her Olympic win, the U.S. Olympic Committee named Lipinski the 1997 Female Athlete of the Year. Lipinski is particularly proud of the recognition she has received from fans. In 1999 and 2000 she was voted Best Female Athlete at the Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards. In 1999, she won Best Female Athlete at the inaugural Fox Teen Choice Awards. She received similar awards from Teen People and Teen magazine. She has been recognized by the American Academy of Achievement, the Hugh O’Brien Youth Leadership Foundation, and many other organizations. In 2006, Lipinski was the youngest ever inductee into the United States Figure Skating Hall of Fame.