Tara Lipinski is a former professional figure skater who holds the record for the youngest athlete ever to win an Olympic Winter Games gold medal (a record that, due to rules changes, will never be broken). She also won four separate championships as a teenager in the ’90s before retiring.
Lipinski was born in 1982 in Pennsylvania and began training to be an Olympic figure skater when she was three. She won her first contest at the 1991 United States Roller Skating Championships, defeating her competition in the primary girls’ freestyle. In 1994, Lipinski won the U.S. Olympic Festival competition, establishing herself as the youngest gold medalist on record and attracted a great deal of media attention. She continued to compete, placing in the U.S. and World Junior Championships before winning the U.S. Championships in 1997 and becoming its youngest-ever victor.
In 1998, Lipinski competed several times against her rival Michelle Kwan. She finished second to Kwan in Skate America, beat her in the Champions Series Final, and lost again at the U.S. Nationals. The two were both part of the U.S. figure skating team at the 1998 Winter Olympics, where Lipinski performed an extraordinary long form program set to the animated movie “Anastasia” and executed seven triples that earned her the gold medal over Kwan. This secured her position as the youngest gold medalist of all time at the Winter Olympics.
Following her victory at the Olympics, Lipinski turned professional, skating for a few years in the Stars On Ice tour before leaving due to friction with her fellow skaters and the show’s staff. Though many have pointed to Lipinski’s repeated hip injuries as a contributing factor to her retirement, Lipinski herself denies such claims. Since then, she has appeared on numerous television shows, including Are You Afraid of the Dark? and Sabrina the Teenage Witch. In 2006, Lipinski became the youngest inductee ever into the United States Figure Skating Hall of Fame.
Awards & Championships
- 1996 – Grand Prix Final Gold Medal
- 1996 – U.S. Championships First Place
- 1997 – Grand Prix Final Gold Medal
- 1997 – World Championships Gold Medal
- 1997 – Olympic Committee Female Athlete of the Year
- 1998 – Olympic Games Gold Medal