Tara Lipinski was a star of the 1998 Winter Olympic games, representing the United States in figure skating. Part of her popularity as an Olympic athlete stems from her bubbly personality and charisma, but she is also noteworthy as one of the youngest Olympians in any sport. Even though she participated in only one Olympics, she left a mark on her sport.
Tara Lipinski began roller skating at age 3 and switched to ice at age 6. An only child, her family moved to Houston at the age of 9, but two years later she and her mother relocated to Delaware so she could train year-round at the topmost level. A few years later, the whole family moved to Detroit, where she trained with coach Richard Callaghan.
Youngest U.S. and World Champion
In 1997, Tara Lipinski won a gold medal at the U.S. national figure skating championships. She was only 14 years old. That same year she went on to win the world skating champion title. In both cases, she was and still is the youngest person to ever win those titles.
Youngest Olympic Champion
At the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan, Tara Lipinski beat favorite and fllow U.S. skater Michelle Kwan for the gold medal in individual figure skating. She was 15 years old and the youngest gold medalist in her sport in history. She won the medal in part by landing a triple loop-triple loop combination, a move that became her signature. Rule changes since her victory have pushed up the age at which Olympians can compete, meaning that she will probably always hold the record for youngest figure skating gold medalist.
Injuries and Retirement
After the 1998 Winter Olympics, Lipinski retired from amateur competition and turned pro, which means she never attended another Olympics as a competitor. Instead, she joined Stars on Ice and toured with them for several seasons. Eventually, hip injuries forced her off the ice entirely.
After quitting ice skating for good, Lipinski made several guest appearances on TV shows. She also became a commentator for the Universal Sports Network and NBC providing expert insight on annual figure skating competitions. In 2006, she was inducted into the U.S. Figure Skating Hall of Fame.