You may think you know a lot about Tara Lipinski. How she was named for a plantation. How she mounted a Tupperware podium at age 2. How she won a world championship at age 14, hangs out with Todd Eldredge, weighs 82 pounds, lived it up in Nagano.
But what do you really know about the youngest figure skating gold medalist in history? Nothing -- unless you've read "Triumph on Ice" (Bantam Books, 1997), the 15-year-old skater's autobiography.
That's right: The prescient pubescent penned her life story -- before the Olympics! -- enabling us, on this glowing morning after, to bring you the behind-the-scenes highlights of her career:
Page 12: Young Tara gives up roller hockey after a boy accidentally skates over her fingers. She then discovers the more "glamorous" side of roller skating. "I loved the fancy outfits we got to wear. I even loved getting up in the middle of the night so that my mother could drive me to competitions far from home."
Page 16: Tara's first trip to an ice rink. "I'm awful, but only for the first hour." After forty-five minutes, she is doing axels and waltz jumps.
Page 19: Tara meets a friend with her same name. The other Tara lives across the street and has the same teachers! "Only she pronounces Tara differently. She says 'TAR-ra.' I say 'TEAR-ra.' "
Page 20: To cheer 9-year-old Tara up after a traumatic move caused by job relocation, her parents buy her a horse named Moonray. "He was a great horse, easy to handle and quick at learning."
Later on page 20: Moonray is sold to help cover skating expenses.
Page 26: 11-year-old Tara moves to Delaware with her mother to train full-time. Dad and three dogs stay in Texas. To cheer her up, Tara gets a "Delaware dog," named Mischief.
Page 34: After an exhaustive cross-country search for a new coach, Tara asks Mom to go on one more trip, to Detroit to meet Richard Callaghan. "Mom groaned. 'I've met enough coaches,' she said. 'And we just got back.' But Mom's a trouper. We flew to Detroit."
Page 37: Tara and Mom move to Detroit. Mischief, "too big to travel easily on airplanes," moves in with Dad.
Page 40: 1996 World Championships. "Midori [Ito] didn't skate that well. As I was getting ready for my turn, I listened to the announcement of her marks. They were low. That made me have a truly bizarre thought: I could beat these skaters I had been watching on television. I could beat Midori Ito."
Later on page 40: "On my double loop, I fell. I was stunned. I had just fallen at the Worlds! How incredibly stupid, I thought as I went into my triple flip -- and I missed that too."
Page 46: Coach Callaghan decides Tara needs a more sophisticated style. Step 1: New music. Soundtrack from movie "Speed" is replaced with soundtrack from "Sense and Sensibility."
Page 47: Designers seek Tara's input before stitching new, sophisticated costumes. "My main comment was: No orange!"
Page 52-53: Tara describes daily routine at Detroit Skating Club. "The atmosphere is quiet and serious. Still, it's not that quiet because we skate to music, and sometimes we turn it up pretty loud."
Page 55: Skater Todd Eldredge becomes inspirational brother-figure. "One of his favorite tricks is hiding my skate guards."
Page 57: Author confesses literature is her least favorite subject. "Dusty old tomes like 'Wuthering Heights' are just not my style."
Page 61: Afraid to fly in a Learjet, Tara misses a skating show. Todd Eldredge has told her that a Learjet takes off straight up in the air like the space shuttle.
Page 95: After years of tireless sacrifice for Tara's dreams, Mom finally lays down the law during Atlanta Olympics. "Dad and I were all set to go when the bomb exploded at Centennial Park. I still wanted to go, but Mom said no way."
Later on page 95: Tara boasts that famous friends include gymnast Dominique Moceanu and Lacey Chabert, Claudia from TV's "Party of Five." "Maybe I can go to the 'Party of Five' set. I'd definitely like to meet Scott Wolf, Matthew Fox and Neve Campbell." No mention of old pal Tara, pronounced "TAR-a."
Pub Date: 2/21/98