Tara Lipinski has undergone a stunning transformation. The legendary Olympic figure skater gave the world a once-in-a-lifetime performance on the ice skating rink back in 1998, bringing home the coveted gold medal. At the time, Lipinski was the youngest woman ever to receive the honor, thereby cementing her place forever in the annals of Olympic history. Neither Lipinski nor the world could ever forget such a stunning program!
Surprising exactly no one, it took years of blood, sweat, practice, and tears for Lipinski to ascend to that level of athletic genius (via The New York Times). From parents living apart to augmented school schedules to moving multiple times to new states, Lipinski and her parents gave everything they had to her Olympic aspirations, which, in the end, paid back exponentially. These days, Lipinski is sitting pretty while living the dream as a famous sports commentator.
But Lipinski’s evolution from little girl to Olympic champion to living legend wasn’t just a straight line. And believe it or not, Lipinski wasn’t born wearing ice skates. Curious to know more? This is the stunning transformation of Tara Lipinski.
As a child, Tara Lipinski dreamed of becoming an Olympic champion
Tara Lipinski was born on June 10, 1982 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, as noted by The New York Times. Shortly thereafter, the Lipinski family moved to Sewell, New Jersey, where Lipinski watched her first-ever Olympic games on television in 1984. Out of the gate, Lipinski was enamored with the idea of becoming an Olympic champion. "My dad would let me stand on a little Tupperware container for the national anthem," she revealed in a chat with Dear Doctor. "I was very young, so I don’t think I really knew what was happening." Okay, we did that, too, but we didn’t actually go on to live it.
Part of the appeal of the Olympics were the medal ceremonies, which made a significant impact on the young Lipinski. "It just seemed so big, and I loved when these athletes stood up there with their hand across their heart and the national anthem would play," she continued. It really can be quite the emotional moment, especially when your favorite athlete wins!
Tara Lipinski started roller-skating at age three
While Tara Lipinski certainly ice skates like she started practicing in utero, she actually got her start in a slightly different sport. And though she wasn’t a baby when she started — she was 3 years old, according to The New York Times — Lipinski still had a youthful reason for getting started on skates. "I started roller skating just because I was pretty active as a kid, and there was this program if you were a kid and you went for a day, you got a free Care Bear and I loved Care Bears," she recalled in a conversation with CY Interview. "I went to the roller range and it said in fine print ten skating lessons after that you get your free care bear so I got hooked after that."
While Lipinski proved to be quite good at roller-skating, that, ultimately, wasn’t her true calling. Still, it wasn’t until later that Lipinski "switched over to ice skating." And, of course, as we all know now, she fell in love with the winter sport. She also proved to be quite good at it and started training pretty regularly.
Tara Lipinski moved to Texas when she was 9, then back to Delaware
In the midst of Tara Lipinski’s skate training in nearby Delaware, a wrench was thrown into the works: Lipinski’s father, an oil executive, was transferred to Houston for work (via The New York Times). To that end, the family picked up and moved to Texas in 1991. And that would have been fine, but there was one problem: Lipinski couldn’t find a decent place to keep training. So she and her mother made the tough decision to return to Delaware while Lipinski’s father stayed in Houston. "It was very difficult, and I know those years were so hard on my mom," Lipinski confessed in an interview with Dear Doctor. "I would talk to my dad every night, but I didn’t see him."
For however challenging it was to live apart, though, Lipinski knew that there was a good reason for the sacrifice. "I think they both really believed in me and in my dream," she continued.
Eventually, Lipinski and her mother moved to Detroit hoping to recover after a tough performance at the world junior championships in 1995. That’s where Lipinski trained with coach Richard Callaghan (via The New York Times).
After sixth grade, Tara Lipinski was homeschooled
Somewhere between all of the skating and all of the moving, Tara Lipinski went to public school just like the rest of us. However, by the time sixth grade rolled around, a traditional education proved to be too much for Lipinski on top of everything else. So that’s when the skater began homeschooling, which meant she was missing out on regular rites of passage. "Of course, you think back and wonder, ‘What would prom have been like?’ I didn’t have those normal high school experiences," she told Cosmopolitan.
Fortunately, Lipinski wasn’t stuck all by herself. "I was pretty lucky, I had tons of friends at the rink," she continued. "It was different than high school, yes, but we still had sleepovers and hung out. It wasn’t like I was isolated in a rink every day with no friends."
Another thing Lipinski is grateful for, on top of those connections, is her parents’ authentic support. "I was also lucky in the respect that my parents weren’t trying to live their dreams through me," she added.
As Tara Lipinski’s profile began to rise, so did media scrutiny and pressure
It’s not surprising that Tara Lipinski started getting noticed more and more, thanks to her incredible skating talent. And while it was exciting to have her profile rising, with the increased attention from the press came serious scrutiny — and sometimes cruelty from reporters. "I’d read really harsh headlines — [words] that hurt someone who was 13, 14, 15 years old," she revealed in a chat with Cosmopolitan. "My parents would try to hide things like that from me, but the skating world is small and word gets around." Namely, journalists felt it their duty to comment on her diminutive size, which left scars.
Fortunately, Lipinski had fierce support from her parents, who also worked to protect her body image. "My coach would weigh other skaters, but my mom refused to let me be weighed," she continued. "When she saw other skaters restricting their diets, she tried to hide it from me."
While Lipinski didn’t wind up developing an eating disorder, she certainly was careful with her diet later on. "Would you say I thought [about my diet] more than a normal person? Yes," she added.
Remember that fall? Tara Lipinski will never forget it
Once Tara Lipinski started training with coach Richard Callaghan, her skating began to improve, launching her into the spotlight. After coming in third place at the U.S. Championships at the tender age of 13, Lipinski went on to clinch gold at the World Championships in 1997. She was on fire when at U.S. Nationals in 1998, Lipinski suffered a heartbreaking fall during her short program. "That was the lowest point [in my career]," she lamented in an interview with Cosmopolitan. "I made a silly mistake and ended up on my butt with my legs over my head and that image showed up on every newspaper the next day."
Naturally, Lipinski was utterly crestfallen, afraid that she’d blown her big shot. "That night I couldn’t stop crying, I was just so scared that I wouldn’t go to the Olympics," she continued. "I was like, ‘I’ve worked way too hard to let everything go in four minutes.’"
Fortunately, Lipinski still qualified for the 1998 Olympic team alongside teammate Michelle Kwan — and the best was yet to come.
In 1998, Tara Lipinski made history when she won the Olympic gold
After years of big sacrifices, intense conditioning, and hours upon hours upon the ice, Tara Lipinski headed to the 1998 Olympic games in Nagano, Japan. And at just 15 years old, Lipinski beat out the competition, realizing her lifelong aspiration of winning the Olympic gold medal. "It was such a surreal moment that it didn’t feel real or like it happened because you work day in and day out, and you’re thinking about this one goal," she told Sports Illustrated. "And all of a sudden, you have a title of being an Olympic champion." Well deserved, Tara! We remember the day well.
Of course, Lipinski looks back fondly on the momentous day when she became the youngest individual woman to ever win the top figure skating honors — it’s definitely one of the top cry-worthy moments in Olympic history. "I’m obviously so grateful and feel so lucky I was able to achieve my dream of winning an Olympic gold medal," she continued. "It means a lot to be an Olympian."
After winning the Olympic gold, Tara Lipinski had hip surgery
After clinching the gold medal at the 1998 winter Olympics, Tara Lipinski found herself at a crossroads. Now a household name, the skater dabbled with television, taking on roles in shows like The Young and the Restless, Are You Afraid of the Dark?, and Malcolm in the Middle (via IMDb). She also became a professional skater and toured with Stars on Ice, among other activities. For sure, homegirl was busy.
One thing that might have perplexed people, however, is that Lipinski wouldn’t return to the Olympics, despite the fact that she was so young. Well, there was a reason for that: She had an injury that required hip surgery. "That was the reason why I turned professional," she explained to CY Interview. "It would be impossible for me to keep going at the rate I was, and he did his best to fix it so I have a prolonged professional career now which I am so grateful for." May as well go out on top, right?
At long last, Tara Lipinski took a break
For the first 15 years of her life, Tara Lipinski basically trained to be an Olympic athlete, and that’s about it. Then, after her historic Olympic performance, Lipinski threw herself into professional skating and a bit of show business. But, eventually, Lipinski realized she needed to step back from her professional duties. "I also didn’t want to just skate forever and stay on tour," she told Cosmopolitan. "I had never taken more than four days off in my life, so I decided to take a break and officially stop skating."
So what exactly did Lipinski do in the late 2000s that weren’t jam-packed with work? "I had my first real relationship, went on vacations, and just experienced life," she continued. She added that she worked "here and there, but spent the next few years traveling and, you know, chilling out." That sounds like a much-needed respite that let Lipinski be a person for the first time.
In 2009, Tara Lipinski decided to become a commentator
After Tara Lipinski was able to spend a few years having fun and enjoying new experiences, she found herself ready to get back to work. But given that Lipinski was no longer skating for a living, she worried that whatever she did next wouldn’t compare to the high the sport brought her. "I was scared I’d never find it again," she revealed in an interview with Cosmopolitan.
Fortunately, Lipinski suspected that she might find a home for herself as a sports commentator, so she offered her services to IceNetwork back in 2009. It proved to be just the place for Lipinski, who was working for NBC Sports and NBC Universal by 2012. "I found my new high," she continued. "There’s just something about broadcast, especially live commentary, that’s exhilarating. Having to articulate stories and thoughts on the fly is fun and exciting." And she’s darn good at it, too.
Tara Lipinski and Johnny Weir joined forces in 2014
You can’t talk about Tara Lipinski without mentioning her work husband, best friend, and partner-in-crime, figure skater Johnny Weir. While the pair were aware of each other during their skating years, it wasn’t until they ran into each other while commentating that they realized how well they clicked. In fact, they got so tight that they asked if they could commentate together as a pair. "It was just one of those instant connections," Lipinski explained to GQ. "And we said: Why aren’t we doing this together? So we asked if we could."
After getting the green light, Lipinski and Weir quickly became television icons. And by the 2014 winter Olympics, they were friends for life. "On air and off air we just started to bond," Lipinski continued. "It’s like a long-lost soul mate that I met late in life. I can’t imagine my life without him." We are so here for this!
Now Lipinski and Weir are, perhaps, the most famous figure skating commentators out there, and fans can’t get enough of the duo.
In 2017, Tara Lipinski got married
While Johnny Weir may be Tara Lipinski’s work husband, he’s not her actual husband (Weir is openly gay and quite fabulous). But Lipinski did get lucky in love as she married her husband, sports producer Todd Kapostasy, two years after meeting him in 2015. "It was the best day of my life," Lipinski gushed in a chat with People. "Obviously winning an Olympic gold medal for my country in 1998 was a very proud moment for me, but nothing competes with finding someone you love to spend the rest of your life with!" Congrats, you two lovebirds!
Lipinski and Kapostasy — who is just one of the many gorgeous husbands married to female athletes — tied the knot on June 24, 2017, to be specific, in Charleston, South Carolina; they said "I do" under a giant canopy of hydrangeas and roses, which sounds just divine. Lipinski, of course, slayed, donning a hand-embroidered strapless gown with a lace skirt designed by Reem Acra, along with a Laura Basci detachable 20-foot tulle train. And, of course, Weir was in attendance as Lipinski’s "bridesman."
After the big day, Lipinski and Kapostasy took off on a seven-week honeymoon around the world. "It was a fairy tale come to life," Lipinski added.
In 2018, Tara Lipinski returned to comedic television
While Tara Lipinski took a few roles on television during the first half of the 2000s, after that she dropped off of the Hollywood radar (she told Cosmo that it "just wasn’t my thing," after all). However, Lipinski returned to the world of comedic television a decade later. First, she appeared in Superstore in 2016, then graced the screen again in 2018 — this time opposite Jim Carrey in Michel Gondry’s Kidding. "I think it’s a lot of fun," she explained in an interview with Entertainment Tonight. "I’m just so grateful that this opportunity came around, so why not?"
Lipinski had a blast on set and made some amazing memories during her time on the show. "It’s such a crazy role to play. I don’t know if I’ll ever have another Tara role like this come up," she continued. "You gotta take it wherever you can."
Lipinski, subsequently, lent her talents to Family Guy, Amphibia, and Scooby Doo and Guess Who? (via IMDb).
Tara Lipinski is a role model for life
Tara Lipinski has accomplished a lot in her life, and she has a lot to be proud of. Still, she’s had to adjust to being deemed a role model, with plenty of aspiring skaters looking to her as an example. "It is weird to think of myself as changing skating or [as a role model] because I look up to so many different people," she shared with CY Interview. "I do realize I am a role model and totally flattered by it, and I really just try to be myself." We are here for this wholesome content.
Indeed, Lipinski tries to be the best person that she can be and hopes that her approach resonates with those around her. "I just try to … do what my parents would be proud of … and hopefully I am setting a good example," she added.
There’s still a lot of Lipinski to do in life, and we really can’t wait to see what she tackles next.