Flashback to the 1998 Nagano Olympic Games: Fifteen-year-old Tara Lipinski was about to hit the ice to nail seven triple jumps in her short and long programs (salchows and toe loops—makes us dizzy thinking about it!) and best Michelle Kwan for the women’s figure skating gold medal. But all she could think about was her nerves.
“I had been preparing for this since I started skating at three-years-old! I realized that four minutes could change my life, and my legs were shaking,” Lipinski says. “I called my mom after the warm-up, as I do before every time I hit the ice, and told her ‘I can’t do it!’”
The confidence that helped her tighten her skate strings and bring home the medal still serves her well today, as she’s stepping back onto the ice again and enjoying life as a TV commentator for her sport-of-choice. We caught up with Tara to talk about why she really turned pro at 15, how she stays fit today and who she thinks will be skating’s next big star.
You seemed to be on the top of your game! Why did you retire at such a young age?
I didn’t think of it as retiring. I took five to seven years to make friends and be “normal” for a while. I felt like I had already accomplished all that I wanted to by winning the national, world and Olympic championships. And my personality always has me focused on ‘what’s next?’
Read on for Tara’s thoughts on getting back on the ice, becoming a commentator and who she thinks will be the next big skating star!