Tara Lipinski has come a long way from winning gold at the 1998 Olympics. It took years of sweat, practice, and tears for her to ascend to that level of athletic greatness. Here’s a look at her stunning transformation, from a little kid with big dreams to a living legend.
Lipinski was born on June 10, 1982, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and soon thereafter, she moved with her family to Sewell, New Jersey. In 1984, she watched the Olympics for the first time, and she immediately became enamored with the idea of becoming a champion herself.
While Lipinski skates so well on the ice that you’d think she started practicing in utero, she actually got her start in a slightly different sport. She wasn’t quite a baby at the time, but she was pretty close, as she was only 3 years old when she started roller skating, and she had a pretty youthful reason for getting into it.
While Lipinski proved to be a natural at roller skating, that ultimately wasn’t her true calling, though it still took her a little while before she made the switch to ice skating. Of course, as we all know now, she fell in love with her new chosen sport. Lipinski eventually started training in nearby Delaware, but then a wrench was thrown into the works, as her oil executive father was transferred to Houston for work, so the family packed up and headed to the Lone Star State in 1991. That was fine, but there was one big problem, as they couldn’t find a decent place for Tara to keep training. So she and her mom made the tough decision to return to Delaware while her dad stayed behind in Houston.
Lipinski and her mom moved to Detroit in the hopes of recovering after a tough performance at the world junior championships in 1995, and that’s where she started training with a coach named Richard Callaghan.
Fortunately, Lipinski had fierce support from her parents, who worked to protect her body image. As she explained, “My coach would weigh other skaters, but my mom refused to let me be weighed. When she saw other skaters restricting their diets, she tried to hide it from me.”
Lipinski didn’t develop any eating disorders, but she did pay close attention to what she was eating as she went through puberty. Once Lipinski started training with Richard Callaghan, it really took her skating to the next level. After coming in third place at the U.S. Championships at the tender age of 13 in 1996, she went on to clinch gold at the World Championships in 1997. There were high hopes the following year at the U.S. Nationals, but then she suffered a heartbreaking fall during her short program.
Lipinski ultimately did qualify for the 1998 Olympic team alongside teammate Michelle Kwan, and the best was still yet to come. After years of big sacrifices, intense conditioning, and hours upon hours upon the ice, Tara Lipinski headed to the 1998 Winter Olympic Games in Nagano, Japan. She wasn’t old enough to drink, vote, or even drive, but at only 15 years old, she beat out the competition and realized her lifelong aspiration of winning an Olympic gold medal.
After clinching the gold, Lipinski found herself at a crossroads. She dabbled in TV, appearing on such shows as Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Are You Afraid of the Dark?, and Malcolm in the Middle. She also became a professional skater and toured with Stars on Ice. But she never returned to the Olympics, even though she was so young the first time she competed. There was a reason for that, as she had an injury that required hip surgery.
After Lipinski spent a few years having fun and enjoying new experiences, she found herself ready to get back to work. But she worried that whatever she did next wouldn’t compare to the high that figure skating brought her.
It can’t talk about Tara Lipinski without mentioning her work husband, best friend, and partner-in-crime, fellow figure skating alum Johnny Weir. They were both aware of each other during their competitive years, but it wasn’t until they ran into each other while commentating that they realized just how well they complemented each other. They ended up becoming so close that they eventually asked if they could broadcast together as a pair.
While Johnny Weir maybe Tara Lipinski’s work husband, he’s not her actual husband. He is, after all, openly gay and even more openly fabulous. But Lipinski isn’t just lucky in friendship, she’s also lucky in love, as she married sports producer Todd Kapostasy in 2017 after two years of dating.
Lipinski slew in a hand-embroidered strapless gown with a lace skirt designed by Reem Acra, along with a Laura Basci detachable 20-foot tulle train. Weir was of course in attendance at the ceremony, as he served as Lipinski’s “bridesman.” “Johnny has always been the perfect gentleman, and he’s always taking care of me.” After the big day, Lipinski and Kapostasy took off on a seven-week honeymoon around the world.
Tara Lipinski has accomplished a lot in her life, and she has plenty to be proud of. And with all her accomplishments, she’s also had to learn how to be a role model, with plenty of aspiring skaters looking up to her as an example.
The past few decades have proven the success of Lipinski’s approach. And there’s still plenty of time for her to accomplish even more in her life.