Then & Now: Famous Figure Skaters From Around The World
For many young figure skaters, competition is something they dream of, especially the Winter Olympics. Then, after training for years, their moment is over in a flash.
Now, they have to adjust to life without competing for medals. Here is what some iconic figure skaters are up to today.
Former U.S. figure skater Tonya Harding was an accomplished athlete, but she never could finish higher than 4th at the Winter Olympics.
Even so, that didn’t stop Harding from making more than one headline during her career. Harding has since done celebrity boxing and has been the subject of books and even a biopic starring Margot Robbie, I, Tonya.
At 15 years old, former figure skater Tara Lipinski made history at the 1998 Winter Olympics by becoming the youngest to win gold. Lipinski has also won a World Championship and the Championship Series Final twice.
After retiring from competitions, Lipinski toured and commentated for NBC figure skating broadcasts.
Nicole Bobek was projected to be part of the future of women’s figure skating. Unfortunately, things for Bobek’s future did not go as planned. Bobek has only a bronze at the 1995 Worlds and a gold at the 1995 US Championships.
Bobek went on to teach hockey players skating skills.
Former figure skater Sasha Cohen won a silver medal at the 2006 Winter Olympics. Cohen ended her career when she failed to make the 2010 US Olympic team.
Post-skating, Cohen acted on TV and in movies such as Blades of Glory. She is a 2016 US Figure Skating Hall of Fame inductee.
Michelle Kwan has an impressive resume of figure skating accomplishments. The former US figure skater has an Olympic silver and bronze, five World Championships, and nine US Championships.
Off the ice, Kwan impressed people again after being nominated and becoming the US Ambassador to Belize on September 29, 2022.
Retired US figure skater Peggy Fleming won a gold medal at the 1968 Winter Olympics in France, the only athlete from the US to win gold at those Games.
Fleming also won three World Championships and has been a figure skating commentator for over twenty years. She’s even appeared in films such as Blades of Glory.
Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean
Former British figure skaters Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean are two-time ice dancing medalists with their 1984 gold and 1994 bronze medals.
The duo captivated their nation and the world on the way to becoming one of the most iconic figure skaters ever. After their time on the ice, the duo became figure skating ambassadors.
Figure skating fans will remember French skater Surya Bonaly for attempting an “impossible” move on the ice at an Olympics, a backflip, landing on a single blade. Bonaly has won an impressive nine French Championship titles but never an Olympic medal.
As of 2022, Bonaly teaches figure skating to youth in Minnesota.
Elvis Stojko is a former Canadian figure skater and two-time Olympic silver medalist. Stojko was the first to complete a quadruple-triple combo. Fans of the sport will remember him for his elaborate costumes and for attempting aggressive moves on the ice.
Stojko still performs solo professionally and with his wife, Gladys Orozco.
Tai Babilonia and Randy Gardner
Former figure skaters Tai Babilonia and Randy Gardner made history when they became World champions in 1979. The duo was the first US champion in the sport in over two decades. They qualified twice for the Olympics, withdrawing from one.
Since retiring from competition, Babilonia coaches while Gardner does some choreography work.
Philippe Candeloro is a retired French figure skater who won a bronze at the 1994 and 1998 Winter Olympics. Candeloro famously executed a move by accident which he then incorporated into his on-ice routine.
Retiring in 1998, Candeloro went on to enter the world of news and sports journalism broadcasting.
Katarina Witt is considered by many as one of the best singles figure skaters ever. During the peak of her career, Witt won two Olympic gold medals and four World Figure Skating Championships.
After skating was over, Witt worked in both television and film before aiding a failed bid for Munich to host the 2018 Olympics.
Brian Orser is a former Canadian figure skater who never quite could win the big moment. Orser’s outstanding career includes gold at the 1987 Worlds and back-to-back silver medals at the 1984 and 1988 Olympics.
Orser retired and became a coach, leading Japan’s Yuzuru Hanyu to win Olympic gold.
Scott Hamilton is a former US figure skater and 1984 Olympic gold medalist. Hamilton was known for attempting daring moves that were also illegal in competition. Hamilton also won four consecutive US Championships and four Worlds.
After retiring from the ice, Hamilton started the CARES Initiative for cancer research.
Kitty and Peter Carruthers
Kitty and Peter Carruthers were a unique duo because they were siblings who competed in the pairs category together. They won the bronze at the 1982 Worlds and the silver at the 1984 Sarajevo Olympics.
While the duo comes together on the ice for special events, they are retired from competition. Peter is in broadcasting and Kitty coaches in Houston.
Viktor Petrenko won the 1992 Olympic gold and didn’t stray far from the ice after retiring from hard competition. After he left the competitive ice, Petrenko went on to tour professionally and work as an International Skating Union (ISU) Technical Specialist.
He even coaches figure skating stars like Oksana Baiul.
Oksana Baiul won the hearts of her native Ukraine and shocked the world by winning the 1994 Winter Olympic gold at the age of 16 years old. She previously won the 1993 World Championships.
After she retired, Baiul still found herself on the ice, portraying Clara and Dorothy Gale in The Nutcracker on Ice and The Wizard of Oz on Ice, respectively.
From the time she could walk, Janet Lynn was on skates. Lynn won bronze at the 1972 Olympics, capturing the hearts of everyone watching her. Lynn has two Worlds and seven US Championships on her resume.
Lynn skated professionally after retiring, became more spiritual, and has tried acting.
Retired Japanese figure skater Shizuka Arakawa made history at the 2006 Turin Winter Olympics. Arakawa won gold in singles skating making her the first Japanese skater to win gold and only the second to medal.
After skating was finished, Arakawa transitioned into skating commentary and produced a TV show.
Irina Slutskaya was figure skating excellence. The Russian-born retired skater has two Olympic medals (silver and bronze), six Worlds, nine European Championship medals, won the Grand Prix nine times, and is a four-time Russian national champion.
Slutskaya returned to Russia after retiring to act and was a skating ambassador.
Meryl Davis and Charlie White
The ice-dancing team of Meryl Davis and Charlie White is one of the greatest of all time. They won gold at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, silver in 2010, two Worlds, five Grand Prix titles, six US nationals, and much more.
Today Davis and White still perform together on tour.
Midori Ito is a former Japanese figure skater. Ito won a silver medal at the 1992 Albertville Olympics and was the first female to land seven triple jumps successfully in one competition.
Ito retired and then returned in 2011 and is a World Figure Skating Hall of Fame inductee.
Kristi Yamaguchi is not only a singles figure skating champion, but she has also won pairs competitions. Yamaguchi won Olympic gold in 1992 and two World Championship titles.
Yamaguchi retired and found herself on the stage of Dancing with the Stars, winning the coveted disco ball trophy during the sixth season of the show.
In 1976, Dorothy Hamill won Olympic gold representing the United States. The Chicago-born figure skater had quite a successful 1976, winning the World Championships in March before her Olympic gold.
Hamill joined many of her peers who are retired figure skaters and went into performing professionally, including on Broadway.
Sarah Hughes only scratched the surface when she won bronze at the World Championship in Vancouver. One year later, Hughes shocked the figure skating world with a bronze at the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City.
Hughes retired, earned herself a Bachelor’s degree, and went on to study Law.
Johnny Weir was known more as a performer and for his costumes than for figure skating. Weir showed promise early on with a 2008 bronze medal but no medals in two Olympic appearances.
After retiring, Weir teamed up with his best friend Tara Lipinski as an analyst on TV.
Debi Thomas started skating at the age of five. She finished first in her debut figure skating event at only nine years old. Thomas’ shining moment was her bronze medal at the 1988 Calgary Olympics.
Thomas studied medicine and was a practicing doctor after retiring from her time skating.
Alexei Urmanov is a former Russian figure skater best known for winning the 1994 gold at the Olympic Games in Lillehammer. Previously, Urmanov won bronze at the 1993 World Championship and won Russian nationals four times.
Urmanov went on to coach in Sochi and conducts figure skating clinics in his spare time.
Despite winning four World Championship titles, former Canadian figure skating legend Kurt Browning never won Olympic gold. Browning is the first skater to land a quadruple jump in any competition.
Once Browning stopped competing in figure skating, he began working as a choreographer of programs for many rising stars.
Patrick Chan represented Canada with pride in figure skating with all his success on the ice. Chan won two silver medals at the 2014 Sochi Olympics before his gold medal-winning performance at the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympic Games.
In 2020 after retiring, Chan was named an Olympic Committee Ambassador. He is considered one of the greatest Canadian male figure skaters of all time.