The world of figure skating has seen some truly stunning performances from the most talented practitioners of the sport. This begs the question: what happened to the most iconic figure skaters of yesteryear?
Originally representing East Germany, former figure skater Katarina Witt made history when she became the first female since 1936 to win back-to-back in the singles at the Winter Olympics. She first struck gold in 1984 in Sarajevo and then four years later in Calgary.
Katarina Witt – Now
East Germany’s end meant that Witt had complete freedom to pursue dreams outside of figure skating. Not only did she appear in Playboy magazine, but she also had her own memoir published in 2005 – Only With Passion. In 2013, a biopic aired on ESPN about Witt’s life both before and after the unification of Germany. Most recently, Witt helped Munich’s bid to host the 2018 Winter Olympics. However, it was ultimately Pyeongchang, South Korea that were given the opportunity to host the games.
Peggy Fleming’s biggest triumph came in 1968 at the Winter Olympics in Grenoble. It was here that she won the gold for Team U.S. in the ladies’ singles. Amazingly, it was the only gold that Team U.S. won in the entire tournament. In her career, Fleming has won the World Championship three times. Just two years after winning gold at the Winter Olympics, she tied the knot with her teenage sweetheart, Greg Jenkins, who was a former amateur figure skater.
Peggy Fleming – Now
It has been half a century since Peggy Fleming won gold at the Winter Olympics and she has filled in those fifty years with a variety of activities and life-changing moments. She survived breast cancer in the 90s and had two kids with her husband Greg – sons Andy and Todd. The couple actually had a vineyard/winery during their time in California, which at one point, sold 2,000 cases of wine per year. They have recently sold the vineyard and are enjoying retirement together.
One of the younger athletes on this list to have competed in figure skating, Sarah Hughes made her presence known at the turn of the Millennium when she won the bronze medal at the 2001 World Championships in Vancouver. Just a year later though, Hughes took her game to the next level when she won the gold in the ladies’ singles at the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. She finished 1st, with Irina Slutskaya and Michelle Kwan coming in at 2nd and 3rd, respectively.
Sarah Hughes – Now
Shortly after her Olympic triumph, Sarah Hughes enroled at Yale University where she eventually graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in American Studies. It was also during this time that she decided to take a break from her studies to tour with the Smuckers Stars on Ice. Being Jewish, Hughes received a huge honor in 2005 when she was inducted into the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame. She is currently studying at the University of Pennsylvania Law School.
Just six years after he started pursuing a career in ice skating, Johnny Weir won the 2001 World Junior Championship. It only seemed like more glory would follow, with Weir winning the U.S. Figure Skating Championship for three consecutive years (2004, 2005, and 2006). His highest achievement came in 2008 when he won a bronze for Team U.S. at the World Championships and was the only medal that Team U.S. won in the competition. He has also competed in two competitions on the Olympic stage.
Johnny Weir – Now
Since retiring from professional skating in 2013, Johnny Weir has joined forces with his best friend outside the rink, Tara Lipinski, and together the duo have been successful analysts for a number of figure skating shows. As a result of their success, Weir and Lipinski have worked on huge events such as the red carpet at the Academy Awards. After coming out in 2011, Weir ended up divorcing his husband in 2015 and has since lambasted the movie I, Tonya, the biopic about Tonya Harding.
Debi Thomas will be best remembered for becoming the first ever African-American to win a medal at the Winter Olympics. In the 1988 games in Calgary, she ended up winning the bronze. However, the historic moment didn’t shock many in attendance, especially since Thomas had already been in the top three on three separate occasions in the World Championships. She eventually reached the number one spot in 1986. Thomas is also known for her rivalry with Katarina Witt, which was called the “Battle of the Carmens.”
Debi Thomas – Now
Debi Thomas managed to enroll at Stanford University during her Olympic days. Despite this, she decided to retire from figure skating at just 21 years of age. She eventually graduated from Stanford and moved to medical school, which is where she became an orthopedic surgeon. However, things weren’t so easy for Thomas. She developed a reputation as a difficult doctor to work with and ended up establishing her own private practice before filing for bankruptcy. Her medical license expired soon after she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder.
Three-time World Championship medalist Sarah Cohens biggest setback came at the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin when she “only” managed to win the silver. Despite trying to return to Team U.S. for the third time in 2010, Cohen missed out and wasn’t sure what her next move would be. As a result, she retired from competitive skating. “I missed that crystal-clear sense of purpose and direction,” she said. “Once you leave the world of an elite athlete, that clarity is hard to find.”
Sasha Cohen – Now
Since her figure skating years, Sasha Cohen has dabbled in acting, make appearances on shows such as CSI: NY, as well as the movie Blazing Saddles. She also worked as a guest correspondent at the Academy Awards. In 2016, she managed to get a degree in political science from Colombia University. In 2016, Cohen received the praise that was due when she was inducted into the U.S. Figure Skating Hall of Fame. Sadly, Sasha and her husband Tom are in the middle of getting divorced.
It was the 80s when Brian Boitano first made a name for himself as an elite figure skater. After becoming World Champion in both 1986 and 1988, he also took home the gold in the men’s singles at the Winter Olympics in Calgary. His rivalry with rival Brian Orser was known as the “Battle of the Brians.” Although he ended up turning professional, Boitano did return to competitive figure skating, taking part in the 1994 Winter Olympics. However, he only finished sixth that time around.
Brian Boitano – Now
One of Boitano’s most notable career endeavors since going professional was his role in the Emmy Award-winning movie Carmen On Ice, which he ended up starring in alongside rival Brian Orser. In more recent times, he has had his own show on the Food Network – What Would Brian Boitano Eat? Then, in December 2013, after intense speculation surrounding his personal life, Boitano came out as gay to the public. He was inducted into the Figure Skating Halls of Fame in 1996.
Torvill and Dean
Probably the most iconic figure skaters to come out of the United Kingdom, Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean, often referred to as “Torvill and Dean,” had one of the most illustrious careers of all time. Out of the 18 competitive medals they won, 16 of them were gold. Their 1984 Winter Olympic triumph is hailed as one of the greatest moments in the history of the sport, where they became the highest scoring figure skaters of all time, with twelve perfect 6.0s to their names.
Torvill and Dean – Now
Although their career came to a sour end when they won the bronze at the 1994 Olympics in Lillehammer, Torvill and Dean have remained ambassadors of the sport since their retirement. After touring with Stars on Ice, they went to Sarajevo in 2014 and recreated the Bolero, celebrating 30 years since their Olympic triumph. Despite their incredible story, the pair are not romantically involved, with Torvill happily married to husband Phil Christensen and Dean divorcing American skater Jill Trenary in 2010.
An absolute heroine back in her home country, Ukraine, Oksana Baiul was only 16 years old when she won the gold at 1994’s edition of the Winter Olympics, which was set in Lillehammer, Norway. It was a truly incredible time in figure skating, with legends such as Tonya Harding, Nancy Kerrigan, and Katarina Witt all competing at the same time. However, the young Baiul beat all of them to the gold. She also became World Champion in the ladies’ singles in 1993.
Oksana Baiul – Now
Unfortunately, things weren’t so pleasant for Oksana Baiul after her triumphs as a teenager. The 90s saw the former figure skater deal with alcohol issues. Despite this, Baiul continued to perform in shows such as Cold as Ice. She has also appeared in reality TV shows such as the skating show Master of Champions. Baiul even had a role in season 13 of The Apprentice! Her most recent endeavor came in 2018 when she starred in the biopic about the Norwegian figure skater Sonja Henie, aptly titled SONJA – Queen of Ice.
There is no denying that Rudy Galindo’s finest hour in figure skating came when he competed in the pairs with Kristi Yamaguchi. Together, the pair won both the 1988 World Junior Championships, as well as the 1989 and 1990 U.S. National Championships. However, the duo decided to go solo shortly after. Eventually, Galindo also reached the top of the men’s singles, triple jumping eight times to gold at the 1996 U.S. Championships. He has proven that he is a natural in both the singles and the pairs.
Rudy Galindo – Now
Galindo is one of the only competitors on this list to never have competed at the Olympics. However, he did make history when he became the first openly gay and Latino U.S. Champion. He also made a name for himself in professional shows. These days, the former skater works as a coach at his original rink in San Jose, bringing in the next generation of American talent. In 2000, Galindo shocked the sports industry when he admitted to being HIV positive.
One of the highlights of the 1998 Olympics was when French figure skater Surya Bonaly performed a one-bladed backflip, which made every single member of the audience drop their jaw. After believing the Olympic panel to have a racist bias during her performances, she executed the crazy move, which is actually illegal. To this day, she is the only figure skater to have ever performed such a move at the Olympics. Bonaly has one the French Championship a staggering nine times.
Surya Bonaly – Now
These days, Surya Bonaly does things a little more to the book. She has to, seeing that she is now coaching a new generation of figure skaters. She coaches in the town she lives in, in Minnesota. Not only is she focused on teaching the youth, she is also heavily involved in righteous causes and can consider herself a true activist. Bonaly is not just a vegetarian, she has also appeared in a variety of ads for PETA.
Figure skater Nicole Bobek had a shaky time leading up to her Olympic outing. She was regarded as difficult to work with, having been coached unsuccessfully by eight different coaches. However, Scott Hamilton had good things to say about her. “She lights up the building like nobody else,” he said. Bobek ended up being in a powerful trio, alongside Michelle Kwan and Tara Lipinski, who were expected to clean up in 1998. However, things took a turn for the worst…
Nicole Bobek – Now
Shortly after her Olympic failure, Nicole Bobek was caught selling illicit substances. It was an all-time low for the figure skater. However, she was eventually given a second chance and has since made amends for her dark years. She now has a deep passion for performing at circuses. One of her most notable performances came in 2015 when she performed a hoop routine at a skating show hosted by Nancy Kerrigan. She also ended up marrying one of her co-performers.
As famous for sharing the same first name as the King of Rock n’ Roll as he was for his figure skating credentials, Elvis Stojko became the first athlete in his sport ever to achieve a quadruple-triple combo. The truth was that Stojko was a unique character in the world of figure skating, rocking heavy metal costumes, and performing aggressive moves. “I was ridiculed,” Stojko said. “I was told to get in touch with my feminine side. I said, ‘Buddy, I don’t have a feminine side.'”
Elvis Stojko – Now
To this day, Stojko still performs about 70 times per year. He has performed on many occasions with his wife, who is also a former figure skater. However, there is so much more to Stojko’s career than just skating. He has ventured into other hobbies such as go-kart racing and kung-fu. He even ended up on Broadway, playing Billy Flynn in the classic Chicago. Stojko is also scheduled to perform in the upcoming Canadian edition of Stars on Ice.
Tai Babilonia & Randy Gardner
Despite the fact that pairs figure skating requires a certain level of intimacy that isn’t usually found in younger skaters, Tai Babilonia and Randy Gardner had a strong working connection from an early age. In 1979, the pair made history when they became the first U.S. champions in nearly two decades. However, tragedy would soon follow when Gardner suffered a terrible groin injury, shattering their dreams at the 1980 Winter Olympics. They were outright favorites to win the gold.
Tai Babilonia & Randy Gardner – Now
Despite their huge disappointment back in 1980, Tai Babilonia and Randy Gardner have remained close friends ever since. In fact, they recently celebrated 50 years of working together at the Ice Theater of New York. Nowadays, Babilonia coaches from time to time, while Gardner is not only a choreographer but has also starred in his own show Go Figure: The Randy Gardner Story. “Through all of it, it’s the friendship for me,” Babilonia said in an interview.
Frenchman Philippe Candeloro will be best remembered, not necessarily for what he did do, but what he didn’t. We’ll make things a little clearer. When Candeloro had an accident in one of his performances, it ended up looking like a neatly executed move. He spun around before slipping to his knees. It is now his signature move. The mishap didn’t seem to bother the skater so much though, especially after winning bronze at both the 1994 and 1998 Winter Olympics.
Philippe Candeloro – Now
Ever since his skating career came to an end, Philippe Candeloro has turned to the world of news broadcasting and sports journalism. However, the former figure skater got into a bit of a controversial situation for what he called someone on live air. When he was watching Japanese figure skater Shizuka Arakawa performing, Candeloro said that the Olympic champion was worth “a bowl of rice.” After widespread uproar came flooding his way, he apologized for the remarks.
A World Champion at one stage in his career, Brian Orser will never fully get over the moment that he was overpowered by his biggest rival, Brian Boitano, in what many called the “Battle of the Brians.” He won the gold back in 1987 at the World Championships in Cincinnati and was also a silver medalist at both the 1984 and 1988 Winter Olympics. However, in the two aforementioned competitions, he narrowly missed out on the gold, first to Scott Hamilton, and secondly, to Boitano.
Brian Orser – Now
Despite this age-long disappointment, Orser has managed to heal some of these wounds with his rejuvenated venture into the world of coaching. He has been touring for 17 years before he realized that he needed to grow up. In 2014, Orser’s determination to move forward paid off when he coached Japanese skater Yuzuru Hanyu to the gold at the Olympics. Back in 1998, Orser came out as gay and is currently in a relationship with Rajesh Tiwari, who directs the Brian Orser Foundation.
One defining feature of Scott Hamilton’s game was that he loves to do backflips. Not only was it a skill that not many other skaters could do, but it was also illegal in the U.S. and the Olympics. Despite this, Hamilton has kept things professional and ended up winning four World Championships, as well as four consecutive U.S. Championships. These all came between 1981 and 1984. The apex of his success came at the Winter Olympics in Sarajevo, when he won the gold.
Scott Hamilton – Now
It was actually Hamilton who founded Stars on Ice back in the 80s. However, when the 90s came around, the former figure skater had a bout with testicular cancer, which he overcame in 1997. That’s not all though; Hamilton found out that his short height was the result of a childhood condition, which caused numerous brain tumors between 2004 and 2016. Since then, Hamilton founded the CARES Initiative, which focuses on cancer research. In 2018, he became an ambassador at the Winter Olympics.
David Pelletier and Jamie Salé
The story that Canadians David Pelletier and Jamie Salé have been through in their career is extraordinary, to say the least. Together, the pair won the gold at both the 2001 World Championships and 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. Despite being at the center of a judging scandal, the pair ultimately walked away with the gold, which most neutrals felt was totally deserved. It was a truly remarkable time for the pair, but there was much more to follow…
David Pelletier and Jamie Salé – Now
Not only did Pelletier and Salé turn professional after the Olympics, but they also fell in love. On Christmas Day, 2004, the couple got engaged and married a year later. Then, two years after that, they had a son, Jesse Joe Pelletier. However, the couple eventually divorced, despite remaining skating partners. They were inducted into both the Skate Canada Hall of Fame and the Canadian Olympic Hall of Fame. Salé is now married to Craig Simpson, who she worked with on Battle of the Blades.
Kitty and Peter Carruthers
No American pair has been able to reach the same heights that Kitty and Peter Carruthers did back in 1984. This pair of siblings from Massachusetts cast all their Soviet rivals aside when they won the silver. Despite the fact that Kitty had tendinitis at the time, they still managed to come away with a medal. So overwhelmed by their achievement, Kitty and Peter embraced each other for a good minute in front of a standing ovation.
Kitty and Peter Carruthers – Now
Peter Carruthers has gone on to become a famous broadcaster for numerous skating events and is now married with two kids. As for Kitty, she is working as a coach in Houston. Despite their individual lives, the siblings often reunite on special occasions, most recently on a TV special in 2013. They even skated together during the special. “We were silly enough to skate, and we had a blast,” Kitty said. “We realized we still had a little something,” Peter added.
What makes Viktor Petrenko’s career so special is that he got to represent not one, but two countries. This is because he originally represented the Soviet Union, before it split up. This was followed by a period when he represented his country of origin, Ukraine. However, it was his time spent with the Unified team that saw him achieve the most success in his career. The pinnacle of which came in 1992 when Victor Petrenko took home the gold.
Viktor Petrenko – Now
Viktor Petrenko hasn’t let his retirement from figure skating deter him from remaining involved with the sport. If anything, the Ukrainian is as passionate as ever, coaching numerous stars and even helping Oksana Baiul make a name for herself, who would go on to win the gold two years after Petrenko did. He has coached the likes of Johnny Weir, who won the championship three times, as well as stars such as Ukrainian Natalia Popova and Czech Michal Brezina.
One of the most iconic names in the world of figure skating, Nancy Kerrigan is probably best remembered for being attacked by someone hired by the ex-husband of her fellow figure skating rival, Tonya Harding. After rising to fame at the 1991 World Championships, Kerrigan went on to win the silver three years later at the Olympics in Lillehammer. It will surely go down as one of the most bizarre moments in sporting history. But where is Nancy nowadays?
Nancy Kerrigan – Now
Fortunately, Nancy Kerrigan hasn’t had too much drama in her life since the attack. Not only has she made appearances in movies such as Blades of Glory, but Kerrigan also took part in Season 24 of Dancing with the Stars. In recent times, she has been an executive producer of the documentary Why Not Lose 5 Pounds? Then, in 2018, Kerrigan became the Super Bowl correspondent for Inside Edition. Her most recent TV show appearance came on hit sitcom Fresh Off The Boat.
This is one figure skater who has been a hit in both the singles and the pairs competitions. Not only did Kristi Yamaguchi win the gold at the 1992 Winer Olympics in Albertville, France, but she also became World Champion in both 1991 and 1992. She also won the National Championships in 1989 and 1990 with her pairs partner Rudy Galindo. Since her retirement, Yamaguchi has been inducted into both the U.S. Figure Skating Hall of Fame as well as the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame.
Kristi Yamaguchi – Now
The nineties was primarily a time for Yamaguchi to focus on professional tours, primarily with the Stars on Ice. It was also during this time that the former figure skater tried her hand in philanthropy, establishing the “Always Dream Foundation” in 1996. The charity’s main goal is to give children better literacies from an earlier age. Yamaguchi was a huge success in season six of Dancing with the Stars. Then, in 2011, she wrote the children’s book Dream Big, Little Pig!
One of the most intriguing personalities in the world of figure skating, Tonya Harding burst onto the scene in 1991 like her rival, Nancy Kerrigan. Harding made history when she became the first female skater from the States to perform a triple axel jump. However, it was the attack on Nancy Kerrigan that ultimately affected her career. Harding was banned from competing in the U.S. Figure Skating Association. However, this doesn’t mean that her story is over just yet…
Tonya Harding – Now
Soon after her skating career came to an end, Harding turned to professional boxing. This, however, was fairly short-lived, with Harding winning three of her matches and losing the other three. She is currently married to Joseph Price and the couple had a son in 2011. In recent times, she has been working as a painter and a deck builder. However, her story has once again become mainstream ever since Margot Robbie portrayed her in the critically-acclaimed biopic I, Tonya.
Just before the turn of the Millenium, Michelle Kwan was quickly becoming the new the star of U.S. figure skating. She made her Olympic debut at just 18 years of age, with a silver in the 1998 tournament. She also won the bronze in 2002. However, it is her five World Championships that have developed her into one of the most successful competitors in the history of American figure skating. Everything came to a standstill though after she had a severe injury in 2006.
Michelle Kwan – Now
After the injury in 2006, Michelle Kwan decided to dedicate some time to her education. She ended up studying at both the University of Denver and Tufts University before becoming a coordinator for the presidential campaign of Hillary Clinton. Since then, Kwan has worked for the U.S. Department of State’s Education and Cultural Affairs Bureau. She has also had an eventful personal life, marrying White House National Security Staff member Clay Pell. However, the couple recently divorced in 2017.
Not only did 15-year-old Tara Lipinski make a name for herself at the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan, but she also made history. The Philadelphia-born figure skater made jaws drop when she became the youngest ice skater ever to win gold at the Olympics. Not only that, but she also became the youngest athlete in any sport to win the gold. The achievements don’t stop there though. Lipinski also became the World Champion in 1997, as well as the Champions Series Final champion in both 1997 and 1998.
Tara Lipinski – Now
Just a couple of years after reaching the peak of her powers, Tara Lipinski left the competitive stage and started touring with shows such as Stars on Ice and Champions on Ice. Eventually, the former figure skater became a commentator on NBC, working alongside fellow athlete and best friend Johnny Weir. Lipinski and Weir have been credited with bringing the sport to a younger audience. In 2016, she became an executive producer for a future drama series on Hulu about figure skating.
1976 was truly the year for Dorothy Hamill. It was the year when the former figure skater won both the ladies’ singles event at the Winter Olympics, which took place in Innsbruck, Austria, as well as the World Championships. Her Olympic triumph was particularly impressive seeing that she was the last to win gold without hitting a triple jump. Hamill is also renowned for having created her own move – the “Hamill camel.” It’s essentially a camel spin that evolves into a sit spin.
Dorothy Hamill – Now
Like many successful figure skaters, Dorothy Hamill turned to professional performances after her Olympic and World Championship triumphs. One of her keynote performances was on the show Broadway on Ice and Hamill also made an appearance on the 16th season of Dancing with the Stars. However, after just two episodes, she had to pull out after receiving a nasty injury. Since then though, Hamill has bounced back with performances in shows such as Go Figure: The Randy Gardner Story.