Oksana Baiul

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Oksana Baiul
Postage stamp issued by Ukraine commemorating Baiul for her 1994 Winter Olympics appearance
Full nameUkrainian: Оксана Сергіївна Баюл; Oksana Serhiyivna Baiul
Other namesOksana Baiul-Farina
Born (1977-11-16) 16 November 1977 (age 46)
Dnipro, Ukrainian SSR, Soviet Union
Height1.60 m (5 ft 3 in)[1]
Figure skating career
Country Ukraine
Medal record
Figure skating: Ladies' singles
Representing  Ukraine
Olympic Games
Gold medal – first place 1994 Lillehammer Ladies' singles
World Championships
Gold medal – first place 1993 Prague Ladies' singles
European Championships
Silver medal – second place 1993 Helsinki Ladies' singles
Silver medal – second place 1994 Copenhagen Ladies' singles

Oksana Serhiyivna Baiul-Farina (Ukrainian: Оксана Сергіївна Баюл-Фаріна; born 16 November 1977) is a Ukrainian retired competitive figure skater. She is the 1993 world champion and the 1994 Olympic champion in ladies' singles.

Baiul is the first and only skater representing Ukraine to win gold at the Winter Olympics.[nb 1][nb 2] She is also the first Olympic champion of independent Ukraine in any sport.

After winning the gold medal in 1994, Baiul decided to turn professional in order to tour in the United States and have a career based on her skating. She followed one of her coaches to Connecticut. Later, she also became involved in a variety of TV appearances, and benefit skates. She has lived in the United States since 1994. In 1997 she published two books, a memoir about her life and one on skating.

Early life[edit]

Baiul was born on 16 November 1977 in Dnipro, Ukrainian SSR, Soviet Union,[4] an industrial city famous for manufacturing Soviet missiles.[5] Her parents divorced when she was two years old,[6] and her father, Sergey Baiul—who died in 2006[7]—disappeared shortly after. No one is certain whether he deserted his family or was pressured to leave town when he and his wife divorced.[5] She was raised by her mother, Marina, a French teacher, and her maternal grandparents.[8][9] In addition to having Ukraine ancestry, she is of Russian descent through her maternal grandfather.[6]

Her grandfather died in 1987, and her grandmother in 1988. In 1991, her mother, who had been very healthy, died suddenly of ovarian cancer, when Baiul was 13.[1][9] Her father appeared at her mother's funeral, but Baiul wanted nothing to do with him.[6] She lived with the wife of her coach, Stanislav Koritek, who had moved to Canada, and then with friends.[1]

After moving to Odesa in mid-1992,[1] Baiul lived chiefly in a dormitory. Her expenses were covered by the state because of her promise in skating.[10] In 1993, she lived a month with coach Galina Zmievskaya between the European and World championships.[10]

Move to the United States[edit]

After the 1994 Winter Olympics, Baiul moved to the United States and started living in Simsbury, Connecticut. It is the location of the International Skating Center of Connecticut.[11] In the late 1990s, she followed her coach, Valentyn Nikolayev, to Richmond, Virginia, where she lived for several years before moving to Cliffside Park, New Jersey.[12] After residing there for 14 years, Baiul moved to Pennsylvania in March 2012,[13] settling in Upper Makefield Township, Bucks County.[14]

In January 1997 (three years after winning the gold medal), Baiul was arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol after crashing her car into a tree in Bloomfield, Connecticut.[6][15][16] The charges were dropped after she met the terms of probation and completed an alcohol education program. Her drinking problem worsened, however. In May 1997 she entered an alcohol rehabilitation program for two and a half months.[11] In a 2004 interview, she said she had been sober for six years, saying "This is more important than Olympic gold."[6]

Religious views[edit]

Baiul was raised as a Russian Orthodox Christian.[9] As a child, she heard rumors that her maternal grandmother was Jewish.[7][17] In 2003, years after her father left the family, she phoned her old rink in Dnipro to ask for assistance in locating him. Assuming it was a prank, they hung up twice. Eventually Baiul convinced them of her identity. The rink manager helped her reunite with her father Sergey Baiul in September 2003, when she was 25 years old.[6]

He confirmed that her Romanian maternal grandmother was Jewish. According to Orthodox Judaism, her mother and Baiul would also be classified as halakhically Jewish.[6][9][7][17] Baiul decided to identify as Jewish because of the custom of matrilineality in Judaism.[6] In 2005, she said, "Being Jewish, that feels good. It feels natural, like a second skin".[9]

Education and training[edit]

As a child, Baiul was interested in ballet, but was told she did not have the right body type. Her grandmother took her to skating lessons, saying it was ballet on skates.[17] Her grandfather was also supportive of her skating, which she began at age three in Dnipro.[8] He believed that she could be a future prima ballerina and that skating was a fine training ground for dance. Baiul pursued ballet, but ultimately chose ice skating. As she trained, her mother paid for her training expenses, including lessons, costumes, and equipment. By the age of five, she was studying with Stanislav Koritek, a prominent Ukrainian coach.[5]

She was coached by Koritek until he was offered a coaching job in Toronto, Ontario, in March 1992. He accepted due to lack of support for the sport in Ukraine as it struggled economically after the collapse of the Soviet Union.[1] In August 1992, his father, Alfred Koritek, vice-president of the Ukrainian skating federation, called coach Galina Zmievskaya on Baiul's behalf. She took her on as a student, arranging for the girl to move to her home in Odesa.[1] Zmievskaya welcomed her into her circle of elite skaters, and provided her shelter in her family's cramped three-room apartment in the city. Under Zmievskaya's training, Baiul made rapid progress.[5] Her other coach in Odesa was Valentyn Nikolayev.[7] She represented FSC "Ukraine" (Odesa, Dnipro).

Competitive career[edit]

1993 European and World championships[edit]

Baiul began competing and took the silver medal at the 1993 European Championships in Helsinki, finishing second to Surya Bonaly of France.

Prior to the 1993 World Championships in Prague, Baiul had crashed into the boards and displaced disks in her back and neck.[8] At the event, she stopped practicing and consulted a Czech doctor.[8] She competed in skates with crooked blades because it was too late to try a new pair.[8] Ranked second in the short program and first in the free skate, she finished ahead of Bonaly and became world champion at age 15.

1994 European Championships and Winter Olympics[edit]

In 1994, Baiul won the silver medal at the European Championships in Copenhagen, again finishing second to Bonaly.[18] At the 1994 Winter Olympics, she was second to American Nancy Kerrigan after the short program of Ladies' singles. During a practice session before the long program, she collided with Germany's Tanja Szewczenko, sustaining a wrenched lower back and a cut on her right shin, which required three stitches.[19] As others continued practicing, Katerina Witt skated out, helping Baiul off the ice.

She received two Olympic-approved pain-killing injections of anaesthetics in her lower back and shoulder, which enabled her to compete in the free skate. She won the free skate over Kerrigan. She added one additional triple jump towards the end of her skating program that was not originally planned in her program. By the slimmest of margins, she won the gold medal. It was a controversial win that was defended by the referee, who said that Baiul had skated in an artistic and engaging style while Kerrigan skated cautiously.[20] She won the Olympic gold medal at the age of 16 years and 101 days, becoming one of the youngest figure skating Olympic champions. Kerrigan placed second and Chen Lu from China placed third.[4] Baiul was announced as the winner after Surya Bonaly and Katarina Witt completed their respective programs out of medal contention. In addition to her Olympic title, Ukraine named her in 1994 as a Merited Master of Sports.

Professional career (touring)[edit]

Despite their status as Olympic champions, Baiul and Viktor Petrenko faced difficulties in Odesa, as did fellow Ukrainians across the country. The country was struggling economically and conditions at their rink in Odesa had deteriorated severely. The government could not extend financial support for figure skating following the breakup of the Soviet Union. Lacking a working ice resurfacer, coaches and skaters often had to resurface the rink ice by hand.

Such conditions influenced Baiul's decision to turn professional after the 1994 Winter Olympics, although she was only 16 years old. Zmievskaya negotiated a very profitable contract for her to tour the United States following the Olympics and earn money with her sport. In May 1994, at age 16, Baiul signed an agreement with the American talent agency William Morris Endeavor.[21]

Baiul said later that her drinking problems began during this tour. She said:

"Except myself, nearly all the figure skaters on the bus were grown-ups, and it was full of alcohol. Most of the skaters were Russians and Americans, and they all drank. That's when I tried it. I was very young, with no one to teach me the right. I thought it was the norm, 'cause as a teenager you don't want to break away from the majority."[10]

Following the Olympics, Baiul was plagued by physical ailments that affected her skating ability. She required arthroscopic knee surgery in the summer of 1994, after which she was advised by her doctor not to return to the ice for two months. Due to the million-dollar touring contract, Baiul ignored the doctor's recommendations. She resumed skating in two weeks and returned to performing in six. Her jumping ability became hindered.[citation needed]

Year Event[5] Notes
1983–91 Trained with Stanislav Korytek
1991 Lived and trained in Odesa, Ukraine with Galina Zmievskaya Shortly after her mother's death
1991 12th place, Soviet Championship
1993 Runner-up, European Championship
1993 Women's figure skating gold medalist, World Championship in Prague
1994 Gold medalist, Olympics
1994 Performed in U.S. Outdoor Skating Challenge For the CBS television network
1994 A Promise Kept, a television movie based on Baiul's life For the CBS television network
1994 Had knee surgery September
1994 Toured with the Tom Collins World Champions Tour
1994 Featured on a Barbara Walters Special One of the Ten Most Fascinating Personalities of 1994

Life after retirement from competition[edit]

In 1994, Zmievskaya was asked to lead the coaching staff at Simsbury, Connecticut's newly built International Skating Center. Both Baiul and Viktor Petrenko followed her there to train with her.[22]

Baiul portrayed Clara and Dorothy Gale in the CBS productions of The Nutcracker on Ice and The Wizard of Oz on Ice, respectively.[21] In May 1997, she was dropped from the Champions on Ice tour due to concerns about her drinking.[11]

She decided to part ways with Zmievskaya the same year.[10] Baiul had completed a rehab program and, in August 1998, she began training under Natalia Linichuk at the University of Delaware's skating center.[11] She has continued to skate professionally from time to time, including an engagement with the touring show Broadway on Ice.

In December 2006, Baiul traveled to Russia and skated at the Red Square ice rink in Moscow, alongside champions from Russia, China, France, and other countries. In February 2007, she collaborated with Saule Rachmedova, a renowned ballet dancer, to bring together Ice Theatre of New York and couture fashion for the debut of fashion designer Levi Okunov's "Winter Collection." The following month, she appeared on MTV's Total Request Live.

Baiul had a role in the skating stage musical, Cold as Ice. The story explores six skaters from Canada, Russia, and the United States preparing for national championships and the Olympics while dealing with demanding coaches, stage mothers, stage coaches, and other trials. The story was conceived and written by former skater Frank D'Agostino.[23] A full stage version of Cold As Ice was produced and presented by the Gateway Playhouse in May 2007.

On 8 March 2009, and again on 14 March 2010, Baiul made guest appearances at the Kate Wollman Skating Rink at Prospect Park in Brooklyn, New York, as part of its annual show. She also took part in meet-and-greet sessions with skating students after each performance.[24]

Baiul has her own line of clothing and jewelry.[10] In November 2005, she appeared on the Bravo television program Celebrity Poker Showdown. She was also part of the celebrity panel of judges (along with Steve Garvey and Jonny Moseley) on the ABC show Master of Champions, which aired briefly in 2006.

In November 2011, her manager (and future husband),[10] Carlo Farina, discovered accounting and collection discrepancies in her account at William Morris Endeavor.[25] After collecting $9.5 million from the company, Baiul filed a lawsuit in November 2012 in Los Angeles for an additional $1 million in compensatory damages and more in punitive damages.[21][25] She sued NBCUniversal in February 2013 for their alleged illicit promotional use of her likeness.[26] Having withdrawn the November case, she filed a broader lawsuit in New York in October 2013.[14][27]

In January 2015, Baiul publicly accused her former coaches Galina Zmievskaya, Viktor Petrenko, and their manager, Joseph Lemire, of fraud, claiming they 'have been stealing money' from her for more than a decade.[10] In addition, she accused Lemire of fraudulent attempts to represent her in multiple court proceedings in Ukraine against the state, concerning various assets.[10]

As of January 2015, Baiul is married to her manager, Carlo Farina. She now uses the name Oksana Baiul-Farina.[10] They reside in Shreveport, Louisiana with their daughter, Sophia (born 2015).[10]

Representation in other media[edit]

  • A Promise Kept (1994) is a CBS-produced TV movie made about Baiul.
  • Baiul is mentioned in the Family Guy TV series episode, "Wasted Talent" (season 2, episode 20), during brewmaster Pawtucket Pat's song about his brewery, in a reference to her DUI. She was also noted in the TV series episode,"The Griffin Winter Talent" (Season 17, episode 7).[28]
  • The song, "Oksana", by Hawksley Workman, appears on the songwriter's album, Median Age Wasteland.[29] It is about Baiul.
  • In the film Blades of Glory (2007), Chazz Michael Michaels (played by Will Ferrell) claims to have been her one-time lover. As a possible reference to her nerves of steel, Chazz exclaims she's colder than ice, colder than dry ice: "Wait, what's colder than dry ice? I'll tell you what is. Oksana..."
  • In the opening of Kimberly Akimbo’s “Skater Planet,” Martin, part of the teen quartet, retorts, “Like you’re Oksana Baiul out there!” in response to Teresa’s teasing.

Charitable involvements[edit]

On 27 March 2010, Baiul skated at a figure skating exhibition for One Step Closer HIV AIDS. Directed and produced by Tim David, the benefit was for the AIDS Resource Foundation for Children. Baiul performed her signature Swan Lake program and was part of the meet-and-greet after the show.[30]

Baiul supports the Tikva Children's Home Charity, which works to aid the Jewish children of Odesa.[16] In addition, she supports and is a member of the International Museum of Women. This celebrates the lives of women around the world. Baiul also created a program to donate sled dogs to underprivileged Inuit children.


Oksana Baiul career performances.

Event 89–90 90–91 92–93 93–94
Olympics 1st
Worlds 1st
Europeans 2nd 2nd
Skate America 1st
Nations Cup 4th 2nd
Prague Skate 5th
Ukrainian Champ. 1st 1st
Soviet Champ. 12th 10th

Professional career[edit]

Competition placements at professional level 
Season 1994–95 1995-96 1996-97 1997-98 1998-99 1999–00 2000–21 2001–02 2002-03 2003-04 2004-05 2005-06 2006-07
Challenge of Champions 5th
Gold Championships 2nd 2nd
Ice Wars 2nd 2nd 1st 2nd 2nd 1st 1st 2nd 1st
Rock 'N' Roll Championships 1st 2nd 3rd
World Professional Championships 6th 5th 4th 5th
World Team Championships 4th 4th 4th

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Viktor Petrenko represented the Unified Team when he won gold at the 1992 Olympics.
  2. ^ Ukraine won its second Winter Games gold medal in the women's biathlon relay victory at the 2014 Winter Olympics,[2] and its third in the men's freestyle skiing aerials at the 2018 Winter Olympics.[3]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Longman, Jere (6 February 1994). "FIGURES ON ICE; Oksana Baiul: A Little Bit of Heaven on Ice". The New York Times.
  2. ^ "Minute's silence respected at Ukraine news conference". Reuters. 21 February 2014.
  3. ^ "Winter Olympics: Ukraine's Oleksandr Abramenko wins aerial gold". BBC Sport. 18 February 2018. Retrieved 24 April 2021.
  4. ^ a b "Oksana Baiul". Sports Reference. Archived from the original on 17 April 2020. Retrieved 4 January 2011.
  5. ^ a b c d e Collins, Louise Mooney; Speace, Geri J. (1995). Newsmakers, The People Behind Today's Headlines. New York: Gale Research Inc. pp. 24–27. ISBN 0-8103-5745-3.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h Hersh, Philip (17 March 2004). "Golden feeling returns". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 21 October 2009.
  7. ^ a b c d Lyalikov, Sergei (12 November 2007). Оксана Баюл: такие события, как победа на Олимпиаде, никогда не забываются!. Reporter.com.ua (in Russian). Archived from the original on 2 April 2015. Retrieved 30 January 2019.
  8. ^ a b c d e Bondy, Filip (23 April 1993). "Oksana Baiul: Orphan at 13 and Champion at 15". The New York Times.
  9. ^ a b c d e Ginsberg, Johanna (9 June 2005). "Oksana Baiul, figure skating champion, embraces Jewish roots". Njjewishnews.com. Archived from the original on 24 July 2011. Retrieved 30 January 2019.
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Оксана Баюл: "Змиевская, Петренко и Джозеф Лемир украли у меня миллионы долларов"" [Oksana Baiul: "Zmievskaya and Petrenko stole millions from me"] (in Russian). ua.tribuna.com. 5 March 2015.
  11. ^ a b c d Longman, Jere (16 October 1998). "Striving for Recovery from Grip of Alcohol". The New York Times. Retrieved 4 January 2011.
  12. ^ Lipson, Karin (13 May 2007). "For Oksana Baiul, a Role Close to Life". The New York Times. Retrieved 22 March 2011. Ms. Baiul, now 29 and living in Cliffside Park, N.J., was "competing" only in her starring role as Maya Propova, one of six fictional skaters jockeying for medals in "Cold as Ice," a new musical about the sacrifices and rivalries of the sport.
  13. ^ Rosenfeld, Stacey (5 April 2012). "Olympian Oksana Baiul called Cliffside Park home for 14 years". NorthJersey.com.
  14. ^ a b Dickey, Josh (11 October 2013). "Figure Skating Champ Oksana Baiul Sues WME, Others for $170M – Alleges Widespread Theft". TheWrap.com.
  15. ^ "Facing the Music". People. Vol. 47. 10 February 1997. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 22 November 2012.
  16. ^ a b Rosenberg, Rebecca Faye (16 February 2007). "Oksana's New Spin". The Jewish Week. Archived from the original on 6 October 2007.
  17. ^ a b c Lukaniuk, Liubomir; Yuzefchuk, Elena (16 November 2007). Оксана Баюл: "Мне подарят Челентано" [Oksana Baiul interview]. Segodnya (in Russian). Archived from the original on 25 November 2009.
  18. ^ Swift, E.M. (7 February 1994). "Window on the World: Having Triumphed Over Tragedy, Oksana Baiul Eyes the Games". Sports Illustrated. Vol. 80, no. 5. p. 78. Retrieved 26 October 2021.
  19. ^ Longman, Jere (25 February 1994). "Baiul Is Injured In Skating Collision". The New York Times.
  20. ^ Longman, Jere (27 February 1994). "The Judges' Judge Says Baiul Deserves the Gold". The New York Times Archives. Retrieved 14 June 2019.
  21. ^ a b c Gardner, Eriq (20 November 2012). "WME Sued By Ice Skating Great Oksana Baiul". The Hollywood Reporter.
  22. ^ Rabinovitz, Jonathan (2 February 1997). "When Olympic Champions Moved In, They Put Simsbury on the World Map". The New York Times. Simsbury, Connecticut. Retrieved 4 January 2011.
  23. ^ "Profile". Lifeskate.com. 22 June 2008. Archived from the original on 17 September 2009. Retrieved 4 January 2011.
  24. ^ "Profile". Brownstoner.com. 6 March 2009. Retrieved 4 January 2011.[permanent dead link]
  25. ^ a b Johnson, James (21 November 2012). "Oksana Baiul Sues William Morris Endeavor, Claims Talent Agency Took Advantage Of Her Finances". Inquisitr.com.
  26. ^ Gardner, Eriq (7 February 2013). "Hollywood Docket: Oksana Baiul v. NBC; 'Deer Hunter' Oscar; Joe Pesci's Lawsuit". Hollywood Reporter.
  27. ^ Reynolds, Matt (11 October 2013). "Oksana Baiul Says William Morris Owes Her Big". Courthouse News Service.
  28. ^ "Oksana Baiul Biography". Rotten Tomatoes. 16 November 1977. Retrieved 4 January 2011.
  29. ^ Slingerland, Calum (12 December 2018). "Hawksley Workman Announces 'Median Age Wasteland' LP". exclaim.ca. Retrieved 27 February 2020.
  30. ^ "One Step Closer HIV-AIDS benefit". Onestepclosernyc.org. Archived from the original on 6 October 2018. Retrieved 4 January 2011.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

Media related to Oksana Baiul at Wikimedia Commons