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Oksana Baiul

Oksana Baiul

Athlete, Ice Skater (1977–)
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Ukrainian athlete Oksana Baiul won the 1994 Olympic gold in women’s figure skating.


Oksana Baiul was born on November 16, 1977, in the Ukraine. She began ice-skating when she was 4 years old and was orphaned at the age of 13. She moved in with her coach to continue skating. In 1993, Baiul won the Ukrainian National Championships and the World Championships. A year later, she won gold at the Olympics. She has written two books, including the 1997 autobiography Oksana, My Own Story. In 2002, Baiul launched her own line of skating apparel. She also appeared in the 2007 musical Cold as Ice.

Early Life

Olympic figure skater Oksana Sergeevna Baiul was born on November 16, 1977, in the Ukraine. She is the only child of Sergei and Marina Baiul. Her father abandoned the family when Oksana was still a toddler. She discovered her passion for ice skating around the age of 4, and began to win competitions when she was 7.

By the age of 13, Oksana Baiul had been orphaned after the deaths of her grandparents and mother. Her skating coach, Galina Zmievskaya, took her in and became a surrogate parent to the young skater. Baiul lived with Zmievskaya's family in Odessa. As Zmievskaya explained to the Chicago Tribune in 1994, "You have no idea how this girl prepared to be Olympic champion. We had no Zamboni in the rink. I hosed down the ice myself. No Olympic champion ever had such bad conditions to prepare in."

Olympic Champion

In 1993, Baiul won both the World Figure Skating Championships and Ukrainian National Championships. She went on to beat Nancy Kerrigan at the 1994 Olympic Games in Lillehammer, Norway, securing the gold medal in women's figure skating. The much-publicized win occurred in the wake of the Harding-Kerrigan scandal, where the husband and associates of skater Tonya Harding deliberately injured Kerrigan.

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Baiul was only 16 years old when she achieved her victory at the Lillehammer Olympics—making her, at the time, only the second youngest figure skater in history to win the gold, after Sonja Henie. (In 1998, Tara Lipinski would move ahead of Baiul as the youngest when she won gold at age 15.)

Life After the Olympics

Following the '94 Games, Oksana Baiul moved to the United States to skate professionally. She bought a house in Connecticut and broke with her longtime coach. Her personal life went into a downward spiral, as she battled a drinking problem. Her addiction culminated in a car crash in 1997, after which she entered a rehab program. Baiul faced drunk-driving charges in connection with the crash, but these charges were dismissed after she completed an alcohol education program.

That same year, Baiul published her autobiography, Oksana, My Own Story, as well as the book Secrets of Skating, a behind-the-scenes look at her sport. Branching out in new directions, Baiul launched a line of skating apparel in 2002, the Oksana Baiul Collection. She also continued to skate, performing in professional ice shows and the 2007 musical Cold as Ice.

In 2006, Baiul appeared as a judge on the televised skating competition Master of Champions, later joining the cast of The Apprentice (season 13). She got into a legal battle in 2012 with her former talent agency, William Morris Endeavor, over claims that WME had misappropriated some of her earnings. While that suit was dismissed, she tried again the following year with a new lawsuit, claiming that WME and several other parties had defrauded her of $170 million.

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