American figure skater
Tara Kristen Lipinski
Actor Figure skater Television actor
United States of America Poland
Film, TV, Stage & Radio Sports
10 June 1982, Philadelphia, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, U.S.A.
Tara Kristen Lipinski (born June 10, 1982) is an American figure skater, actress, 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 person—by 32 days—ever to win a World Figure Skating title, doing so at the age of 14 years, 9 months and 10 days, and the youngest Olympic gold medalist in the individual ladies’ singles event, having won in Nagano, Japan, on February 20, 1998, at the age of 15 years, 8 months, and 10 days.
Table of Contents
BiographyEarly lifeCompetitive careerProfessional careerPersonal lifeFigure skatingProgramsResultsSkating techniqueFilm and televisionSelected filmographyAchievementsPhilanthropic work, endorsements, and publicationsAwards and recognition
Lipinski was born on June 10, 1982 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the daughter of Patricia (née Brozyniak), a secretary, and Jack Lipinski, an oil executive and lawyer. She spent her earliest years in Washington Township, Gloucester County, New Jersey. The family lived in the Sewell section of Mantua Township, New Jersey until 1991.
Lipinski began ice skating in 1988, learning technique initially from roller skating coaches in the Philadelphia area. Her first major competition was the 1990 Eastern Regional Championships for roller skating where she finished second. At the 1991 United States Roller Skating Championships, she won the primary girls freestyle as a nine-year-old.
In 1991, her father’s job required the family to move to Sugar Land, Texas. However, training facilities were not available there. In 1993, Lipinski and her mother moved back to Delaware, where she had trained before. She later moved to Detroit, Michigan, to train with Richard Callaghan.
Lipinski first came to national prominence when she won the 1994 U.S. Olympic Festival competition, which at the time was a junior-level competition. She became the youngest ladies figure skating gold medalist as well as the youngest athlete in any discipline to win gold. Later that season she placed fourth at the 1995 World Junior Championships and second in the junior level, behind Sydne Vogel, at the 1995 U.S. Championships. Lipinski was coached by Jeff DiGregorio at the University of Delaware. By 1995, she was the subject of a great deal of media attention, coined “Tara-Mania” by the media.
After a fifth-place finish at the 1996 World Junior Championships, Lipinski changed coaches, joining Richard Callaghan in Detroit. Later that season, at the senior level, she placed third at the 1996 U.S. Championships and qualified to compete at the senior-level World Championships. Lipinski was second in her qualifying round to Midori Ito, but fell twice in the short program, barely making the cutoff for the long program. Lipinski rallied to land seven triple jumps, including a triple salchow/triple loop combination, finishing 11th in the long program and 15th overall. Later that year, the International Skating Union voted to raise the minimum age for participating at the World Championships to 15. Lipinski, who was 13 at the time, was grandfathered in and remained eligible for future events, along with other skaters who had already competed at the World Championships before the new age requirement was introduced.
In late 1996, at the U.S. Postal Challenge, Lipinski became the first female skater to land a triple loop/triple loop jump combination, which became her signature element. In early 1997, Lipinski unexpectedly won the U.S. Championships and, at 14, became the youngest person to win the title ahead of Sonya Klopfer who won it in 1951 at the age of 15. Lipinski also won the 1997 Champion Series Final, again becoming the youngest female ever to win the title. She went on to win the World Championships, again becoming the youngest person to win the title.
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. (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 that they required 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. Her most 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 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.
She 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.
Lipinski made an appearance on The Today Show on March 18, 2011, where she skated to Ben Harper’s “Forever”.
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 Olympic Games will 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 Olympic Games.
In July 2016, Lipinski became an executive producer for a potential Hulu drama series centered on figure skating.
In December 2015, Lipinski announced her engagement to Todd Kapostasy, a television producer. They were married on June 24, 2017.
On the August 29, 2017 episode of Hollywood Game Night, Lipinksi revealed that her favorite football team is the Cleveland Browns.
Once Upon a December
Journey to the Pastfrom Anastasia
by David Newman
choreo. by Sandra Bezic
Prelude and Opening(from The Rainbow)
by Carl Davis
Scenes of Summer-Festivalby Lee Holdridge,
London Symphony Orchestra
choreo. by Sandra Bezic
Journey to the Pastperformed by Liz Callaway
Little Womenby Thomas Newman
choreo. by Sandra Bezic
Much Ado About Nothingby Patrick Doyle
Sense and Sensibilityby Patrick Doyle
choreo. by Sandra Bezic
Walking on Sunshineby Katrina and the Waves
On the Townby Leonard Bernstein
Speedby Mark Mancina
The Prince of Tidesby James Newton Howard
On the Townby Leonard Bernstein
Speedby Mark Mancina
The Prince of Tidesby James Newton Howard
Cirque du Soleil
Samson and Delilahby Camille Saint-Saens
GP: Champions Series (Grand Prix)
GP Nations Cup
GP Skate America
GP Skate Canada
GP Trophée Lalique
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 programms. Other than that, she has had several technical parts.
Touched by an Angel
Television series 1994-2003, 5×15 “On Edge”
The Young and the Restless
Television series 1973-still, 11 episodes between 6561 and 6747
Are You Afraid of the Dark?
Television series 1990-2000, 7×7 “The Tale of the Lunar Locusts”
Girl at Party
Television series 1996-2002, 7.5 “Playing It Safe”
At Home with Tara Lipinski
Television series 1996-2007, 7.21/22 “Life and Death: Part 1 & 2”
Television series 2003-still
The Metro Chase
Television series 2002-2006, 3×18 “Still Admiring”
What’s New, Scooby-Doo?
Camp Counselor Grey (voice)
Television series 2002-still, 3×9 “What’s New, Scooby-Doo?”
Malcolm in the Middle
Television series 2002-2006, 7×20 “Cattle Court”
Television series 2015-still, ep. “Olympics”
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, and numerous 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.