Tiffany Chin

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Tiffany Chin
Personal information
Full name Tiffany Chin
Country represented  United States
Born (1967-10-03) October 3, 1967 (age 49)
Oakland, California
Home town San Diego, California
Height 5 ft 3 in (1.60 m)

Audrey Tiffany Chin (born October 3, 1967) is an American figure skater. She grew up in San Diego, California. She won the 1981 World Junior Figure Skating Championships.[1] At the 1984 U.S. Figure Skating Championships, she finished second overall after winning both the short and long programs, and qualified for the 1984 United States Winter Olympic team. At Sarajevo Chin began the competition by placing 12th in the compulsory figures but rallied to place second in the short program and third in the long program for a fourth-place finish overall.[2] Despite being thrilled with her performances and finish, many observers were upset Tiffany Chin had not won at least a bronze medal, which went to Kira Ivanova who due to a large advantage in figures held on for the bronze despite a very weak long program performance. She unfortunately had to miss that years World Championships due to injury.

She began the next Olympic quadrennium with a victory at the 1985 U.S. Championships, where despite a fall in the short program and a conservative long program, she finished first in all three phases of the competition. She was already showing a decline in consistency and technical level from the previous season, having not even attempted a triple flip all year, and having not done a successful triple salchow all season either, now relying almost exclusively on the triple toe. She was upset for the gold medal at that seasons Skate Canada by young phenom Midori Ito, with very rough performances in both the short and long programs.

At the 1985 World Championships, Chin was in a strong position to contend for the title after placing second in both the compulsory figures and the short program. However, in her free skate, she popped her triple Salchow into a single and fell on her final double axel, finishing third in the free program and third overall behind Katarina Witt and Kira Ivanova.[3] As had been the case for Tiffany all season, the only triple she could manage in either free skating portion, was a triple toe. After the event, Chin's mother, Marjorie, pulled her off the ice for eight months, citing the need to address a muscle imbalance in her hips and legs. After undergoing a course of traditional medicine and chiropractic treatments, Chin began to relearn her skating technique under a new coach, Don Laws. She entered the 1986 U.S. Championships as an underdog and finished third overall behind Debi Thomas and Caryn Kadavy. Chin qualified for the World Championships in Geneva, where she placed fourth in the compulsories and tied for second in the short program to enter the long program in third place. With Witt defeating Thomas in the long program, Chin as the last skater was in position to possibly win the gold by winning the free skate, or to possibly aid Witt into passing Thomas for the gold should she have split them in the long program. A fourth-place finish in the long program (behind Witt, Thomas, and Elizabeth Manley) with one clean triple jump, one other triple with a slight touch down, several double axels, and good choreography and style, was enough to give her the bronze medal overall behind Thomas and Witt, a promising sign with her trying comeback, and after being only 3rd at her own Nationals.

In the fall of 1986, Chin returned to Nicks as her coach and switched again to Carroll prior to the 1987 U.S. Figure Skating Championships. At that event she was in third place after the compulsory figures and short program, but was unable to complete a triple jump or clean double axel in her long program and dropped to fourth overall, failing to qualify for the World Championships for the first time since her U.S. senior national debut in 1982. Needing only a 4th-place finish in the long program after Kadvavy's poor short program, Chin's weak long program effort was narrowly edged by a young Tonya Harding in that phase, dropping her behind Kadavy and off the World Team. Sensing only slim chances of making the Olympic team against the trifecta of Thomas, Kadavy, and Trenary, in fall 1987 Chin retired from Olympic-eligible skating and toured professionally. She also competed occasionally in professional events, finishing fourth at the 1987 Nutrasweet World Professional Figure Skating Championships and second at the 1990 U.S. Open behind Elizabeth Manley. She later attended university at UCLA, graduating with a BA in English.

Chin remained involved in figure skating by becoming a coach. Many of her students have qualified for Junior Nationals, Pacific Coast Sectionals, the US Figure Skating Nationals, and various international competitions, including Beatrisa Liang, Melanie Diggs, Victoria Rackohn, Dustin Perini, Song King and Hounsh Munshi. Liang left Chin in 2004 when Chin took some time off from coaching because she was expecting a child,[4] and Munshi moved from her California home to Texas for personal reasons. As of 2009, Perini and King are still coached by Chin.

On May 3, 2009, she was honored by the Los Angeles Chinese Historical Society of Southern California in "Celebrating Chinese Americans in Sports".[5]

Chin's U.S. national title was the first singles' title for an Asian American or anyone who was not Caucasian. During her career she had many coaches, which was uncommon back then and was heavily criticized by commentators such as Scott Hamilton. This has since become more common, with skaters such as Christopher Bowman, Nicole Bobek, and Sasha Cohen, switching coaches many times. Originally trained by Mabel Fairbanks as a young child, Chin switched to Janet Champion under the recommendation of Fairbanks. Her mother, Marjorie, later fired Champion and had her daughter train with Frank Carroll, who led Chin to her World Junior title. However, Marjorie had some serious disagreements with Carroll which led Carroll to resign. Chin then worked with John Nicks and was seen[by whom?] landing triple axels. After a growth spurt and a recurring injury (a muscle imbalance affecting her legs, arms, and hips) that caused her to lose many of her triple jumps, she left Nicks in 1985 and went on to train with Don Laws.[6]

During Chin's Olympic-eligible career, the media frequently drew attention to what was perceived as the domineering influence of her mother. In interviews, Chin maintained that her mother was misunderstood and staunchly defended her.

Competitive highlights[edit]

Event 1980–81 1981–82 1982–83 1983–84 1984–85 1985–86 1986–87
Winter Olympics 4th
World Championships 9th 3rd 3rd
Skate America 1st 1st
Skate Canada 2nd
NHK Trophy 3rd
International: Junior
World Junior Championships 1st
U.S. Championships 5th 3rd 2nd 1st 3rd 4th