Tara Lipinksi still holds the record of the youngest individual Olympic gold medalist, when she won her single’s figure skating competition at the 1998 Nagano Winter Games.
Now, at the Sochi Winter Games, Lipinski is a figure skating commentator for NBC, alongside another US former Olympian, Johnny Weir.
In Nagano, Tara Lipinksi was only 15-years-old, beating out the previous youngest gold medal winner Sonia Henie’s 70-year-old record by two months.
— Meg Moore (@StyleCounselor) February 11, 2014
Random throwback since people are tweeting about her in Sochi today: I photographed Philly's @Tara_Lipinski here… pic.twitter.com/h7n3RyW92E
— Jim MacMillan (@JimMacMillan) February 8, 2014
In a recent feature The Huffington Post did on the former gold medalist she talked about the pressure of being so young and competing in the Olympics:
“It was so stressful! Looking back, when you’re in it, you train for [stress], and that is almost your comfort zone. And then there’s those moments when you get that feeling, where you do know that this is huge, and you have so much pressure on you, and there’s so many people relying on you, and the rest of your life is riding on four minutes.”
“There’s really no way to deal with that pressure. You just keep training, and you try to find ways to trick your mind into getting in the right mindset. I’ve worked with sports psychologists. You have to train your mind just as much as you train your body.”
“In skating, it’s 90 percent mental and 10 percent physical when you’re at this level. All of the skaters are good. Everyone has the tricks. It’s just who can handle the pressure during those four minutes.”
Now that she is not competing any longer, 31-year-old Tara Lipinksi deals with stress by remembering those days and the crazy lifestyle she used to have when she was training and in the international figure skating arena and suddenly things don’t seem as stressful anymore.
She says that her career gave her great perspective for the stress of everyday life as a “regular” person because if she could deal with all that, the rest is a piece of cake.
What is her advice for Olympians participating in Sochi?
“Take it all in. You never know if you’re going to go back. You should feel so happy and proud that you’re representing the U.S. and try to take in as much as you can.”
Tara Lipinksi was not one of those athletes who holds up in their Olympic village room and focused on their performance. She wanted to experience all of it and doesn’t regret her choice.
“I did everything. I was a little kid in a candy shop, and I wanted to experience everything. And that’s the one thing I’m glad I did. I didn’t just make it another competition.”
Those are the words of wisdom from former Olympic gold medalist Tara Lipinksi, who now shares her knowledge with viewers of the Sochi figure skating event in Russia.