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What I Learned From Following 90s Figure Skaters on Instagram
Some of it ain't good, y'all
Growing up, I was obsessed with figure skating. I probably would have taken classes if ballet wasn’t my first love.
I have so many memories going ice skating with my dad and watching figure skating on tv. I had posters of Kristi Yamaguchi and Nancy Kerrigan. These were the celebrities I idolized as a pre-teen girl.
Every winter Olympics I watch figure skating. Part nostalgia, part interest in the sport, and part interest in the individuals skating. I decided I would look up my favorites from the 90s on social media and see what they were up to. Some still seem rad… others, not so much. Such is life, I guess!
Here is my list of faves, links to performances, and a bit about what they’re doing now.
Lachrista’s Top 10 Figure Skaters of the 90s & What They’re Up To:
Yamaguchi’s IG bio: “Skater, mom, philanthropist, children's book author, entrepreneur alwaysdream.org”
Yamaguchi was my first figure skating love! She won gold in the ‘92 Olympics and was the first Asian American woman to do so. She initially had a Pairs career skating with Rudy Galindo, but went solo in 1990.
Since retiring, Yamaguchi married a professional hockey player, had 2 kids, wrote some books, and is mostly doing philanthropic work with her Always Dream Foundation these days. She mostly posts cute skating pics of herself and others. Also, she pretty much looks the same!
Kerrigan’s IG bio: “Proud mom of 3; 2 time Olympic medalist; spokesperson Fight for Sight; representation: firstname.lastname@example.org https://www.cameo.com/nancyk”
She was such a beautiful skater. As a child in the 90s, I didn’t understand why people hated her so much. Her skating outfits were designed by Vera Wang who donated these to Kerrigan. I do remember the media salivating at being able to compare her and Tonya Harding (who I’ll update you on below) due to their differences in class/behavior/etc. Kerrigan won Bronze at the ‘92 Olympics and won silver at the ‘94 Olympics. And of course we all probably remember her from the much publicized assault she faced.
In the time since she has retired, Kerrigan has done some acting, singing, got married, had 3 kids, and mostly posts about her partnership with NordicTrack and other fitness endeavors on her IG.
Baiul’s IG bio: “For Business and Media requests and offers ONLY contact Management at https://OksanaBaiul.com/Contact”
I loved Baiul so much. Her skating was often compared to ballet, and when you watch her performances, you can see this. Baiul won gold at the ‘94 Olympics.
She lost both grandparents one year after the other, and then she lost her mother. Her father had left when she was a child. She lived with the wife of her coach. Baiul later developed a drinking problem and was in the news in the late 90s for a DUI. She then went to rehab for 2 months.
Since retiring, Baiul has skated off and on, created a jewelry/clothing line, married her manager, and had a daughter. She has been posting about the invasion of Ukraine on her IG.
Witt’s IG bio: “2 time Olympic Gold-4 time World Champion-6 European Champion- 8 time National Champion-Emmy Award Winner-”
Witt was such a fun skater to watch. She won gold in both the ‘88 and ‘84 Olympics. Technically an “80s” skater, BUT I remember watching her skate various competitions in the early 90s, so she’s on this list.
Since retiring, she has acted, posed nude in Playboy’s ‘98 issue, won an Emmy for her performance of Carmen on Ice, and appears to be on a German talk show. She posts about this show, her old ice skating moments, and cute pics of herself.
Bonaly’s IG bio: “Olympian, World and European Champion, Skating Coach Consultant Motivational Speakers Enjoy gardening, nature National Parks love Traveling worldwide”
There is so much to say about Surya Bonaly! She was one of very few Black figure skaters in the 90s, and she experienced a shit-ton of racism because of this. Bonaly was known for her jumps and her backflips. She would often do 8 or 9 jumps during her programs, whereas most skaters did six. Instead of being impressed by all she could do, judges often criticized her for not being “graceful” enough and for “intimidating” other skaters (hi, racism).
This particular sentence in her Wikipedia page made me want to cut someone: “During a practice session, she landed a back flip close to Japan's Midori Ito and was told by officials not to do it again because they believed that other skaters might be intimidated in practice sessions.” Bonaly also cut her long braid because the judges said they didn’t like it! UGH! She is quoted as saying, “I did everything I could, but I didn't paint myself white, that's for sure." Her costumes were custom made by Lacroix. Bonaly is the only Olympic figure skater to land a backflip on only one blade.
Since retiring, Bonaly has done speaking engagements, activist work around racism, violence and discrimination in sports, and became engaged to her skating coach. She posts gorgeous selfies, skating photos, and other things on her IG.
Harding’s IG bio: “2x US Champion, 2x Olympian, World Silver Medal Intl. Figure Skating Champion, Biopic: @itonyamovie, DWTS Finalist, For all requests: LGLPR1@aol.com”
Where do I even start? Obviously (and unfortunately), the shit her abusive ex husband did (of which she knew about, but lied) has overshadowed her own career. Harding had a brutal upbringing marked by poverty and abuse. After the attack on Kerrigan, the media consistently portrayed Harding as “white trash” compared to Kerrigan’s middle-class, suburban beauty queen.
In ‘91, Harding became the first woman to ever complete a triple axel in competition. She was also the first woman to successfully complete two triple axels in a single competition, and the first ever to complete a triple axel in combination with the double toe loop.
Since retiring, Harding has been quite busy doing various things. She and her now ex-husband sold a sex tape to Penthouse. She did some professional boxing. Some acting. And sadly, it would appear she’s an anti-vaxxer (or, at least, anti-Covid vaxxer). Harding is currently married and has 1 kid. She posts about anti-vax stuff, old skating videos/pics, and weird patriotic shit.
Ito’s IG bio: (translated from Japanese): “1992 Figure Skating Silver Medalist, 1998 Nagano Olympic finalist”
Ito won silver at the ‘92 Olympics. In the late ‘80s, she became the first woman to land a triple axel in international competition. She also became the first woman to execute all six possible triple jumps in world competition: axel, lutz, flip, loop, salchow, and toe loop.
Since retiring, Midori seems to be doing some skating and coaching, according to her IG. She’s a fairly private person, so I couldn’t find anything on her personal life. Ito posts a lot of skating pics on her IG.
Gordeeva’s IG bio: “✨ Olympic champion✨ World champion✨ Live in the moment”
Gordeeva spent the majority of her skating career in pairs with first husband, Sergei Grinkov, who died at the age of 28 from a heart attack. With Grinkov, Gordeeva won the ‘94 Olympics gold medal in pairs skating. They are still the youngest pairs team to ever win an Olympic medal. She started her solo career in ‘96. Gordeeva is known for her gracefulness and ballet aesthetic.
Since retiring, Gordeeva married and divorced figure skater, Ilia Kulich (whom she has 1 daughter with—she also has 1 daughter from her previous marriage to Grinkov). She then married Canadian pairs figure skater, David Pelletier.
Kwan’s IG bio: “Mom👶🏻, Olympic figure skater⛸, public servant🇺🇸, alumna @thefletcherschool @uofdenver @obamawhitehouse @hillaryclinton 2016 @joebiden 2020”
Remember her? You should. The media was saturated with pictures of her! She was (and still is) stunning. Kwan won silver at the ‘98 Olympics and bronze at the 2002 Olympics.
I did not know this: “In 1994, Kwan finished second to Tonya Harding at the U.S. Championships, which ordinarily would have placed her on the U.S. team to the 1994 Olympic Games in Lillehammer, Norway. That place was instead given to 1993 national champion Nancy Kerrigan, who had been sidelined by an assault and battery (eventually connected to Harding's ex-husband Jeff Gillooly) after a practice session at those championships. The 13-year-old Kwan went to Norway as an alternate but did not compete.”
Kwan’s signature move became a change of edge spiral. One thing Kwan has been praised for is her ability to make everything look so effortless and “clean” on the ice.
Since retiring, Kwan has done many things. She has held diplomatic positions during various presidencies, she has acted, and wrote an autobiography. Kwan has been married and divorced and just this past January had her first child. She posts a variety of things on her IG.
Lu won bronze in both the ‘94 and ‘98 Olympics. She won the first ever Olympic medal in figure skating for China. Lu was only at the top of her game for a short time due to various injuries.
Since retiring, she has coached and written books. She married Denis Petrov (Russian pair skater) and they have 2 kids together. Lu currently manages the World Ice Arena Skating Academy based at World Ice Arena, an upscale mall rink in Shenzhen, China. Though, according to her IG, the Chen Lu International Skating Center looked like it opened in 2021. On IG, she posts a lot of cute pics of her kids and various skating images.
I hope you enjoyed this “blast from the past.” Do you remember any of these women? Are there others from the 90s that you loved? Please tell me in the comments!