Oksana Baiul

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Oksana Baiul
Stamp of Ukraine WOG94.jpg
Baiul on a commemorative stamp
Personal information
Full name Ukrainian: Оксана Сергіївна Баюл; Oksana Serhiyivna Baiul
Russian: Оксана Сергеевна Баюл; Oksana Sergeyevna Baiul
Alternative names Oksana Baiul-Farina
Country represented Ukraine Ukraine
Born (1977-11-16) November 16, 1977 (age 39)
Dnipropetrovsk, Ukrainian SSR, Soviet Union
Height 1.60 m (5 ft 3 in)[1]
Former coach Galina Zmievskaya
Valentin Nikolayev
Stanislav Koritek
Former choreographer Sarah Kawahara
Former training locations Simsbury, Connecticut
Retired 1994

Oksana Baiul (born November 16, 1977) is a Ukrainian former competitive figure skater. She is the 1993 World champion and the 1994 Olympic champion in ladies' singles.

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

Personal life[edit]

Baiul was born on November 16, 1977 in Dnipropetrovsk, Ukrainian SSR, Soviet Union,[4] an industrial city famous for manufacturing Soviet missiles.[5] Her parents divorced when she was two years old.[6] One day when she was two, her father disappeared. 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.[7][8] She is of Russian descent through her maternal grandfather.[6] Her father died in 2006.[9]

Her grandfather died in 1987, her grandmother in 1988, and in 1991 her mother, who had previously been very healthy, died suddenly of ovarian cancer.[1][8] Her father appeared at her mother's funeral but she 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 Odessa in mid-1992,[1] she lived mainly in a dormitory with her expenses covered by the state.[10] In 1993, she lived a month with coach Galina Zmievskaya between the European and World Championships.[10] After the 1994 Winter Olympics, she moved to Simsbury, Connecticut, which is the location of the International Skating Center of Connecticut.[11] In the late 1990s, she lived in Richmond, Virginia for several years before moving to Cliffside Park, New Jersey.[12] After residing there for 14 years, she moved to Pennsylvania in March 2012,[13] settling in Upper Makefield Township, Bucks County.[14]

In January 1997 (only 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 continued, however, and 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.[8] As a child, she heard rumors that her grandmother was Jewish.[9][17] In 2003, she phoned her old rink in Dnipropetrovsk to ask for assistance in locating her father—assuming it was a joke, they hung up twice but eventually, she managed to convince them of her identity and the rink manager helped her reunite with her father in September 2003.[6] He confirmed that the rumor was true—her Romanian maternal grandmother was Jewish.[6][8][9][17] She considers herself Jewish due to matrilineality in Judaism.[6] In 2005, she said, "Being Jewish, that feels good. It feels natural, like a second skin".[8]


Start of skating career[edit]

As a child, Baiul was interested in ballet but was not considered thin enough so 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 Dnipropetrovsk.[7] He also believed that she could be a future prima ballerina and that skating was a fine training ground for dance. She pursued ballet, but ultimately chose ice skating. As she trained, her mother shouldered her training expenses, paying for lessons, costumes, and equipment. By the age of five, she studied with Stanislav Korytek, one of the finest Ukrainian coaches.[5]

She was coached by Stanislav Koritek until he was offered a coaching job in Toronto, Ontario, Canada in March 1992 – he accepted due to problems in Ukraine after the collapse of the Soviet Union.[1] In August 1992, his father, Alfred – the vice-president of the Ukrainian skating federation – called Galina Zmievskaya, working in Odessa, to take on her as a student.[1] Zmievskaya welcomed her into her circle of elite skaters, and provided her shelter in her family's cramped, grim, three-room apartment in Odessa. Under Zmievskaya's training, she quickly rose to greatness.[5] Her other coach in Odessa was Valentin Nikolayev.[9] She represented FSC "Ukraine" (Odessa, Dnipropetrovsk).

1993 European and World Championships[edit]

Baiul 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, she crashed into the boards and displaced disks in her back and neck.[7] At the event, she stopped practising and consulted a Czech doctor.[7] she competed in skates with crooked blades because it was too late to try a new pair.[7] 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 repeated as the silver medalist at the European Championships in Copenhagen, again finishing second to Bonaly.[18] At the 1994 Winter Olympics, she was second to Nancy Kerrigan in 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 small cut on her right shin from her left skate blade that required three stitches.[19] She received two Olympic-approved pain-killing injections of anesthetics in her lower back and shoulder, which enabled her to compete in the free skate. She won the Olympic gold medal ahead of Kerrigan and Chen Lu.[4] Immediately after completing the long program, she fell into hysteric tears in front of TV cameras.[20] She was announced as the winner after Surya Bonaly and Katarina Witt completed their respective programs. In addition to her Olympic title, she was also named Merited Master of Sports in 1994.

Professional career (touring)[edit]

Despite their status as Olympic champions, Baiul and Petrenko faced the same difficulties back home in Odessa as their fellow Ukrainians, living in a financially strapped country where even meat was a luxury and utility outages were a common occurrence. Conditions at their rink in Odessa had deteriorated severely due to the lack of financial support from the government for figure skating since the breakup of the Soviet Union. They had no working ice resurfacer, so coaches and skaters often had to resurface the ice by hand. The conditions influenced her decision to turn professional after the 1994 Winter Olympics, even though she was only 16 years old at the time. Zmievskaya negotiated a very profitable contract for her to tour the United States following the Olympics, an opportunity she could only take advantage of as a professional. In May 1994, as at age 16, she signed an agreement with the talent agency William Morris Endeavor.[21]

Baiul later claimed it was this tour where her later drinking problems took roots, saying: "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 and resumed skating in two weeks and returned to performing in six. This move, along with changes in her body, drastically hindered her jumping ability.

Year Event[5] Notes
1983-91 Trained with Stanislav Korytek
1991 Lived and trained in Odessa, 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 the Barbara Walters Special One of the Ten Most Fascinating Personalities of 1994

Life after retirement from competition[edit]

In 1994, Baiul moved to the United States after she and Viktor Petrenko were invited to train at Simsbury, Connecticut's newly built International Skating Center, with Zmievskaya asking to lead the coaching staff.[22] 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] She later 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 skated at the Red Square ice rink in Moscow alongside champions from Russia, China, France and other countries. In February 2007, she collaborated with renowned ballet dancer Saule Rachmedova to bring together Ice Theatre of New York and couture fashion for the debut of innovative fashion designer Levi Okunov's "Winter Collection." The following month, she appeared on MTV's Total Request Live. She was there to promote the new ice skating film Blades of Glory (2007), starring Will Ferrell. She was name-checked in the film itself when the character Charles "Chazz" Michael Michaels, played by Will Ferrell, talks through his tattoos with Jon Heder's character. Michaels describes Baiul as his 'blonde Ukrainian she-devil'.[23]

Baiul had a role in the skating stage musical, Cold as Ice. The story surrounds six skaters from Canada, Russia, and the United States preparing for their national championships and the Olympics while dealing with demanding coaches, stage mothers, stage coaches, and other trials. The story itself was conceived and written by former skater Frank D'Agostino.[24] A full stage version of Cold As Ice was produced and presented by the Gateway Playhouse in May 2007.

On March 8, 2009, and again on March 14, 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.[25]

Baiul is mentioned in the Family Guy episode, "Wasted Talent" (season 2, episode 20), during brewmaster Pawtucket Pat's song about his brewery as a reference to her DUI.[26]

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 at William Morris Endeavor.[27] After collecting $9.5 million from the company, she filed a lawsuit in November 2012 in Los Angeles for an additional $1 million in compensatory damages and more in punitive damages.[21][27] She sued NBCUniversal in February 2013 for their alleged illicit promotional use of her likeness.[28] Having withdrawn the November case, she filed a broader lawsuit in New York in October 2013.[14][29]

In January 2015, she publicly accused her former coach 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] She also 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, and prefers to title herself as 'Oksana Baiul-Farina'.[10] They reside in Las Vegas.[10]

Charitable involvements[edit]

On Saturday, March 27, 2010, Baiul skated at the One Step Closer HIV AIDS figure skating exhibition. Directed and produced by Tim David, the benefit was for the AIDS Resource Foundation for Children. She 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 Odessa.[16] In addition, she supports and is a member of the International Museum of Women, a cultural and educational institution with the mission to celebrate the lives of women around the world. She also funded a program to donate sled dogs to underprivileged Inuit children.


Event 1989–90 1990–91 1991–92 1992–93 1993–94
Winter Olympics 1st
World Champ. 1st
European Champ. 2nd 2nd
Skate America 1st
Nations Cup 4th 2nd
Ukrainian Champ. 1st 1st
Soviet Champ. 12th 10th

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The women's biathlon relay victory at the 2014 Winter Olympics gave Ukraine its second Winter Games gold medal so far.[3]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Longman, Jere (February 6, 1994). "FIGURES ON ICE; Oksana Baiul: A Little Bit of Heaven on Ice". The New York Times. 
  2. ^ Viktor Petrenko represented the Unified Team when he won gold at the 1992 Olympics.
  3. ^ "Minute's silence respected at Ukraine news conference". Reuters. 21 February 2014. 
  4. ^ a b "Oksana Baiul". Sports Reference. Retrieved January 4, 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 (March 17, 2004). "Golden feeling returns". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved October 21, 2009. 
  7. ^ a b c d e Bondy, Filip (April 23, 1993). "Oksana Baiul: Orphan at 13 and Champion at 15". The New York Times. 
  8. ^ a b c d e "Oksana Baiul, figure skating champion, embraces Jewish roots". Njjewishnews.com. June 9, 2005. Archived from the original on July 24, 2011. 
  9. ^ a b c d Lyalikov, Sergei (November 12, 2007). Оксана Баюл: такие события, как победа на Олимпиаде, никогда не забываются!. Reporter.com.ua (in Russian). Archived from the original on November 22, 2012. 
  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. March 5, 2015. 
  11. ^ a b c d Longman, Jere (October 16, 1998). "Striving for Recovery from Grip of Alcohol". The New York Times. Retrieved January 4, 2011. 
  12. ^ Lipson, Karin (May 13, 2007). "For Oksana Baiul, a Role Close to Life". The New York Times. Retrieved March 22, 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 (April 5, 2012). "Olympian Oksana Baiul called Cliffside Park home for 14 years". NorthJersey.com. 
  14. ^ a b Dickey, Josh (October 11, 2013). "Figure Skating Champ Oksana Baiul Sues WME, Others for $170M – Alleges Widespread Theft". TheWrap.com. 
  15. ^ "Facing the Music". People. February 10, 1997. 
  16. ^ a b "Oksana’s New Spin". The Jewish Week. February 16, 2007. Archived from the original on October 6, 2007. 
  17. ^ a b c Lukaniuk, Liubomir; Yuzefchuk, Elena (November 16, 2007). Оксана Баюл: "Мне подарят Челентано" [Oksana Baiul interview]. Segodnya (in Russian). Archived from the original on November 25, 2009. 
  18. ^ "Window on the World: Having Triumphed Over Tragedy, Oksana Baiul Eyes the Games". Sports Illustrated. 80 (5). February 7, 1994. p. 78. 
  19. ^ Longman, Jere (February 25, 1994). "Baiul Is Injured In Skating Collision". The New York Times. 
  20. ^ Обличчя України. 1994 рік. Оксана Баюл
  21. ^ a b Gardner, Eriq (November 20, 2012). "WME Sued By Ice Skating Great Oksana Baiul". The Hollywood Reporter. 
  22. ^ Rabinovitz, Jonathan (February 2, 1997). "When Olympic Champions Moved In, They Put Simsbury on the World Map". The New York Times. Simsbury, Connecticut. Retrieved January 4, 2011. 
  23. ^ "Blades Of Glory Script - Dialogue Transcript". script-o-rama.com. 
  24. ^ ".". Lifeskate.com. June 22, 2008. Retrieved January 4, 2011. 
  25. ^ ".". Brownstoner.com. March 6, 2009. Retrieved January 4, 2011. 
  26. ^ "Oksana Baiul Biography". Rotten Tomatoes. November 16, 1977. Retrieved January 4, 2011. 
  27. ^ a b Johnson, James (November 21, 2012). "Oksana Baiul Sues William Morris Endeavor, Claims Talent Agency Took Advantage Of Her Finances". Inquisitr.com. 
  28. ^ Gardner, Eriq (February 7, 2013). "Hollywood Docket: Oksana Baiul v. NBC; 'Deer Hunter' Oscar; Joe Pesci's Lawsuit". Hollywood Reporter. 
  29. ^ Reynolds, Matt (October 11, 2013). "Oksana Baiul Says William Morris Owes Her Big". Courthouse News Service. 
  30. ^ "One Step Closer HIV-AIDS benefit". Onestepclosernyc.org. Retrieved January 4, 2011. 

Additional reading[edit]

External links[edit]

Media related to Oksana Baiul at Wikimedia Commons