Lipinski at the 2014 Sochi Olympics
|Born||Tara Kristen Lipinski|
June 10, 1982
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
|Height||5 ft 2 in (157 cm)|
|Former coach||Richard Callaghan |
|Former choreographer||Sandra Bezic|
|Former training locations||Detroit, Michigan |
|Retired||1998 amateur, 2002 pro|
Tara Kristen Lipinski (born June 10, 1982) is an American former competitive figure skater, actor, and sports commentator. A former competitor in ladies' singles, she is the 1998 Olympic champion, the 1997 World champion, a two-time Champions Series Final champion (1997–1998), and the 1997 U.S. national champion. She is the youngest ever to win a World Figure Skating title, having done so at the age of 14 years, 9 months and 10 days.
- 1 Early life
- 2 Competitive career
- 3 Professional career
- 4 Television and film career
- 5 Personal life
- 6 Figure skating
- 7 Film and television
- 8 Achievements
- 9 Footnotes
- 10 References
- 11 Works cited
- 12 External links
Tara Lipinski was born on June 10, 1982 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the only child of Patricia (née Brozyniak) and oil executive and lawyer Jack Lipinski. She spent her earliest years in Sewell, New Jersey. All four of her grandparents were born in Poland.
When Lipinski was 2, while watching the 1984 Summer Olympics, she stood on a Tupperware bowl and pretended to be a gold medalist. At the age of 3, she began roller skating; when she was 9 years old, she became a national champion in her age group. She began figure skating when she was 9, transferring her skills to the ice rink, later switching exclusively to figure skating and taking lessons at the University of Delaware. In 1991, Lipinski's father received a job promotion, so the family moved to Sugar Land, Texas near Houston. She trained at the Houston Galleria, an upscale mall with a public rink. Two years later, in 1993, her father stayed in Texas to support the family and Lipinski and her mother moved back to Delaware to resume her training there with coach Jeff DiGregorio, who worked with Lipinski, on and off, for three years before their move to Texas. In 1995, Lipinski and her mother moved to Bloomfield, Michigan to train with coach Richard Callaghan at the Detroit Skating Club.
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In 1994, Lipinski earned a silver medal in the novice women's division at the 1994 U.S. Figure Skating Championships. When she was 12, she became the youngest athlete to win a gold medal at the 1995 U.S. Olympic Festival and took first place in her first international competition, the Blue Swords in Chemnitz, Germany. According to Cosmopolitan Magazine, the media began to notice Lipinski after Blue Swords in November 1995. As a junior skater, she came in fourth place at the 1995 World Junior Figure Skating Championships and with six triples in her long program, second place at the 1995 U.S. Figure Skating Championships. In late 1995, she placed fifth at the 1996 World Junior Figure Skating Championships; according to the Washington Post, the competition marked "the end of the relationship between the Lipinskis and DiGregorio".
After what sports writer E.M. Swift called a "whirlwind coaching tour", when Lipinski and her mother interviewed and took sample lessons from figure skating coaches around the country, they hired Richard Callaghan. In January 1996, Lipinski won a bronze medal as a senior-level skater at the 1996 U.S. Figure Skating Championships. She closed out the 1995—1996 season and gained international attention by qualifying for the 1996 World Figure Skating Championships. In what figure skating historian James Hines called "a disappointing first outing", she placed 22nd after the short program, but her long program, which included seven triple jumps and which Sports Illustrated called "sparkling", brought her up to 15th place.
Lipinski and Callaghan spent the next year making her "appear more mature"; she enrolled in ballet classes and hired choreographer Sandra Bezic to "create programs for Lipinski that expressed delight yet looked adult". In late 1996, she added the triple loop-triple loop combination, which became her signature jump and added technical difficulty to her programs. She became the first women to complete the combination in competition. Lipinski competed in the ISU Champions Series (later renamed the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating) during the 1996—1997 season; she came in second at Skate Canada, third at Trophée Lalique, second at the 1996 Nations Cup, and won the gold medal at the Champion Series final.
In February 1997, at the age of 14, with her signature triple loop-triple loop combination, Lipinski became the youngest skater to win a U.S. Nationals title. She broke the record made by Sonya Klopfer, who was 15 when she won U.S. Nationals in 1951.[note 1] She defeated Michelle Kwan, Nationals champion in 1996, who left the door open for Lipinski's victory when she fell twice and landed only four out of seven of her planned triples during her long program. According to Swift, the 1997 U.S. Nationals was the start of the Kwan-Lipinski rivalry.
A month later, Lipinski came in first place at the 1997 World Figure Skating Championships and became the youngest female skater to win at Worlds. She was a month younger than the previous record holder, Sonya Henie from Norway, when Henie won the first of 10 World Championships in 1927.[note 2] Lipinski completed seven triple jumps, as she had done at the U.S. Nationals and the Champion Series final and came in first place after the short program. She also completed two double axels, which one rival coach said had little elevation. Her artistic marks were mostly 5.7 or 5.8, and according to the Associated Press, were "in line" with her technical scores. Three out of four judges gave her higher artistic scores than technical scores. Reporter Jere Longman of The New York Times called Lipinski's free skate "a light, airy performance" and said she was "composed and nearly flawless". Longman reported that Lipinski opened with a double axel, and included a triple flip and her "signature triple-loop, triple-loop combination". She received 5.8's and 5.9's in her technical scores and a 5.7 and 5.8 for her presentation scores. The final results after the free skate were close; Longman stated that the judges were unable to declare a clear winner of the free skate. Lipinski, Kwan (who was fourth after the short program), and Russian skater Irina Slutskaya all received first-place votes. In what Swift called "a split decision", Kwan's free skate came in first place because she had more first- and second-place votes, and Lipinski came in first place overall because she received more second-place votes in the free skate than Slutskaya. Longman reported that if two more judges had placed Slutskaya before Lipinski after the free skate, Kwan would have won the competition but instead came in second place. It was the first time the U.S. finished first and second at Worlds since 1992, when Kristi Yamaguchi won the gold medal and Nancy Kerrigan won the silver medal.
The following season, Lipinski finished second to Michelle Kwan at Skate America and, while suffering from a bad head cold, to Laëtitia Hubert at Trophée Lalique. With Kwan sidelined due to a toe-related stress fracture injury, Lipinski defended her Champion Series Final title (now known as the Grand Prix Final). At the 1998 U.S. Nationals, Kwan and Lipinski met again, but after a fall on the triple flip in the short program, Lipinski ended the short program in 4th place with Kwan in 1st place. Although she landed seven triples in the long program, she finished second overall to Kwan.
At the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Lipinski skated her short program to music from the animated movie Anastasia, placing second to Kwan. In the long program, Lipinski performed seven triples, including a historic triple loop/triple loop combination and, at the end, a triple toe/half loop/triple Salchow sequence, to overtake Kwan for the gold medal. She became the youngest ladies' Olympic figure skating champion and the youngest individual gold medalist, a record that had stood since Norwegian Sonia Henie won the same event at the 1928 Winter Olympics in St. Moritz, also at age 15. (In 2014, Yulia Lipnitskaya, six days younger than Lipinski at the time of her Olympic victory, became the youngest Olympic gold medalist in ladies figure skating by winning gold with the Russian team in the team event, not the individual event as Lipinski had.) Lipinski trained at the Detroit Skating Club in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan.
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 two molars 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 requiring constant travel. She was criticized by some, such as Christine Brennan, for her decision to retire from competition at such a young age, who likened the pro skating circuit as "joining the circus". However, this criticism was labelled as "petty backlash" following Lipinski's 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 professional 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. Another very 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.
Many people[who?] have pointed to the repetitive stress of practicing the triple loop combinations Lipinski performed during her competitive days as the primary cause of her hip problems. Lipinski herself has issued contradictory statements about the timing, cause, and severity of her injuries. After her surgery in 2000, she stated in interviews that the real reason she had turned professional was that she had originally incurred the injury to her hip in the summer of 1997 and that she had skated the entire Olympic season in terrible pain, contradicting her earlier account of the original injury having occurred in summer 1998 rather than in 1997. In a 2010 statement on her web site, Lipinski denied that her hip injury was a factor in her decision to retire or that she suffered particular pain during her amateur career beyond "the norm for any athlete".
Lipinski participated in rehearsals for a fifth season of the Stars on Ice tour in the fall of 2002 but withdrew from the tour before it began. She had been increasingly unhappy with life on the tour; she felt isolated from the off-ice camaraderie of the older skaters on the tour; and her injuries caused friction with the show's producers and other cast members. She later wrote on her official web site, "It was really hard those last two years of touring for me. Emotionally I was drained and hurt. I have never been treated like that in my whole life." In later interviews, she also expressed frustration with the artistic direction of the show at that time. For example, reviewers had particularly panned the rap ensemble performed by Lipinski with Kristi Yamaguchi and Katarina Witt in the 2001–02 tour.
Television and film career
Lipinski has made several television appearances, which have included guest roles on a number of prime-time shows (Are You Afraid of the Dark?; Touched by an Angel; Sabrina, the Teenage Witch; Malcolm in the Middle; Veronica's Closet; Whose Line Is It Anyway; Early Edition; 7th Heaven; and Still Standing), as well as a cameo in the theatrical film Vanilla Sky. Lipinski also played a brief supporting role on The Young and the Restless in 1999, starred in the TV movie Ice Angel in 2000, and was cast in the independent film The Metro Chase. Additionally, she has been a celebrity guest on VH-1's The List, Fox's Beach Party, several Nickelodeon productions, and Girls Behaving Badly, and has appeared on numerous magazine covers as well as every major talk show. In 1999, CBS aired a prime-time special, Tara Lipinski: From This Moment On from the Detroit Skating Club in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan.
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 Awards with host Billy Bush. In September 2014, Lipinski and 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 from the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics would be commentating at every major skating event aired on NBC networks including the Grand Prix of Figure Skating: Skate America and the United States Figure Skating National Championships. Before the promotion, Lipinski, Weir, and Gannon only did the other five Grand Prix events and the Grand Prix Final, while Hamilton, Bezic, and Hammond got the bigger events like the National Championships.
NBC has increased Lipinski and Weir's exposure in having them as "fashion and lifestyle experts" for the Kentucky Derby since 2014, and in 2016, the pair was announced as "cultural correspondents" for the 2016 Summer Olympics. The pair has also done commentary for the 2018 Winter Olympics. Lipinski and Weir have been described as having "chemistry...that brings the artistry and makes their conversations truly shine...[while] engaging to listen to and they are excellent tutors, providing random nitty-gritty figure skating obscurities along the way".
Most recently Tara was featured as herself on the TV show Kidding playing an ice skating version of Jim Carrey character, Mr pickles
In December 2015, Lipinski announced her engagement to Todd Kapostasy, a television producer. They were married on June 24, 2017, in Charleston, South Carolina. Lipinski's broadcast partner Johnny Weir was a bridesman at her wedding.
|Season||Short program||Free skating||Exhibition|
|GP Nations Cup||2nd|
|GP Skate America||2nd|
|GP Skate Canada||2nd|
|GP Trophée Lalique||3rd||2nd|
|U.S. Champ.||2nd N||2nd J||3rd||1st||2nd|
|Levels – N: Novice; J: Junior|
- 1998 Skate TV Championships: 1st
- 1998 Ice Wars: 1st (Team USA)
- 1998 Jefferson Pilot Financial Championships: 1st
- 1999 Team Ice Wars: 2nd (Team USA)
- 1999 Ice Wars: 1st (Team USA)
- 1999 Grand Slam Super Teams of Skating: 1st
- 1999 World Professional Championship: 1st
- 2001 World Ice Challenge: 1st (Team USA)
- 2002 Ice Wars: 1st (Team USA)
Lipinski is best known for her consistent athletic ability which included a number of difficult jumping passes. She completed a triple loop/triple loop and a triple toe/half loop/triple Salchow. These combinations are very rare to this day. Lipinski's jumps were tight in the air with very fast rotations, and her double Axel technique became very popular among many skaters for years to come.
Film and television
Lipinski has appeared in multiple television series, films and other programs. Other than that, she has had several technical parts.
|1997||Early Edition||Herself||Season 1 Episode 23, "Love is Blind"|
|1999||Figure It Out||Herself||Season 3|
|1999||Touched by an Angel||Alex Thorpe||Season 5 Episode 15, "On Edge"|
|1999||Sabrina the Teenage Witch||Herself||Season 4 Episode 3, "Jealousy"|
|1999||The Young and the Restless||Marnie Kowalski||11 episodes between episodes number 6561 and 6747|
|2000||Ice Angel||Tracy Hannibal||Television film|
|2000||Are You Afraid of the Dark?||Ellen||Season 7 Episode 7, "The Tale of the Lunar Locusts"|
|2001||Vanilla Sky||Girl at Party||Uncredited|
|2002||Arli$$||Herself||Season 7 Episode 5, "Playing It Safe"|
|2002||At Home with Tara Lipinski||Herself||Television short|
|2003||7th Heaven||Christine||Season 7 Episodes 21 & 22, "Life and Death: Part 1 & 2"|
|2003||Generation Jets||Jessica (voice)|
|2004||The Metro Chase||Natalie Jordon||Television film|
|2005||Still Standing||Sarah||Season 3 Episode 18, "Still Admiring"|
|2005||What's New, Scooby-Doo?||Camp Counselor Grey (voice)||Season 3 Episode 9, "What's New, Scooby-Doo?"|
|2006||Malcolm in the Middle||Carrie||Season 7 Episode 20, "Cattle Court"|
|2018||Lip Sync Battle||Herself||Season 4, Episode: Johnny Weir vs. Tara Lipinski|
|2018||Kidding||Herself||Season 1, Episode: "The New You"|
|2018||Family Guy||Herself||Season 17, Episode 7, "The Griffin Winter Games"|
|2018 & 2019||Wedding Cake Championship||Host with Johnny Weir|
|2019||Amphibia||Talent Judge (voice)||Episode: "Fiddle Me This"|
Philanthropic work, endorsements, and publications
With Shaquille O'Neal and Denzel Washington, Lipinski is a national spokesperson for the Boys and Girls Clubs of America. She is also a spokesperson for the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids and the Childhood Leukemia Foundation. Lipinski is also involved with the Office of National Drug Control Policy's anti-drug campaign. Her anti-drug public service announcement aired nationwide on TV and in theaters in 2000.
She is also dedicated to helping children in need, through the Make-A-Wish Foundation and the Children's Circle of Care, the philanthropic organization for children's hospitals nationwide. She has also supported St. Jude Children's Research Hospital,, the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation, and numerous other cancer research efforts.
Her portfolio of endorsements includes McDonald's, Charles Schwab, Chevrolet, Snapple, DKNY, Minute Maid, Capezio, Mattel, Campbell's Soup, Autoweb.com, Kellogg's, Coca-Cola, Kleenex, Kodak, Hallmark Cards, Office Depot, Smuckers, Target, and others. Lipinski has also been on the runway for Limited Too!. Lipinski has two official books in print: Totally Tara – An Olympic Journey and Triumph On Ice. In addition, there are numerous unofficial biographies, including:
- Tara Lipinski: Queen of the Ice, Bill Gutman
- Tara Lipinski: Superstar Ice-Skater, Stasia Ward Kehoe
- Tara Lipinski (Sports Superstars), Richard Rambeck
- On Ice with Tara Lipinski, Matt Christopher
- Tara Lipinski (Champion Sports Biographies), Annis Karpenko
- Tara the Road to Gold, Wendy Daly
- Tara Lipinski (Awesome Athletes), Jill Wheeler
- Tara Lipinski (Female Skating Legends), Veda Boyd Jones
- Tara Lipinski (Jam Session), Terri Dougherty
- Tara Lipinski: Star Figure Skater, Barry Wilner
Awards and recognition
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.
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- 1998 Skate TV results Archived December 2, 2010, at the Wayback Machine
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