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New ice age

Source: Columbus Dispatch
Date: March 30, 2002
Author: Eileen Dempsey

The crossword puzzle clue seemed simple enough: 1998 Olympic champion.

Eight letters. L-I-P-I . . .

L-I-P-I-N-S-K-I.

"Oh my gosh, that's me!" said Tara Lipinski, as she filled in the answer.

Lipinksi, who works crosswords to relax on tour, remains puzzled by her fast skate to fame.

"Every day you dream of becoming an Olympic champion, and now four years later I have to keep pinching myself."

Lipinski, the youngest Olympic gold medal skater, will perform tonight with a host of Olympic luminaries in the Target Stars on Ice at Value City Arena.

The Winter Games in Salt Lake City sparked interest in figure skating shows, said Karen Davis, public-relations manager for Nationwide Arena. Another skating show, the John Hancock Champions on Ice, will arrive at Nationwide on May 14.

Winning an Olympic medal opened doors for Lipinski.

At 19, her resume includes: movie actress (a cameo in Vanilla Sky and a featured role in the upcoming independent film The Metro Chase) and TV performer (Touched by an Angel and The Young and the Restless, among others).

"Things are looking up for me," Lipinski said this week during a stop in Cincinnati on the show's 61-city tour.

She is considering college correspondence classes but doesn't want to give up skating and acting to pursue college full time now.

"I appreciate my fans, and I owe them a lot," she said. "I'm having fun on this tour."

Lipinski was just 14 when she captured the U.S. national and world titles in 1997; a year later she won the gold medal during the Winter Games in Nagano, Japan.

"That was the best day of my life."

While some fans may wonder why she turned pro shortly after her golden performance in Nagano, Lipinski has no regrets.

"I did what makes me happy,'' she said. "I accomplished everything I wanted to as an amateur.''

Years of rigorous training took their toll. Two years ago, she had hip surgery and doctors discovered she has arthritis.

"My hip was giving me trouble, and it would have been difficult to continue training for competitions,'' she said. "Having the surgery was 100 percent the right decision. I wanted to move on and try other things and keep my life going -- but never stop skating.''

Even now, she still has some pain while skating. By joining the Stars on Ice show, however, she has extended her skating career.

"This is more theatrical and less pressure, and if you make a mistake, the fans are there for you,'' Lipinski said. "You feel more at ease, and you get to have more fun.''

Having fun and honing his artistic skills are two reasons 2002 Olympic bronze medalist Timothy Goebel is looking forward to his tour with Champions on Ice.

Goebel (pronounced gable) will join the cast today in Florida to begin rehearsals for the 86-city tour that starts Wednesday in Daytona Beach, Fla.

"Things have changed a lot since winning the bronze medal,'' Goebel, 21, said in a phone interview from New York City this week. "This morning I got to ring the opening bell at the stock exchange.''

Fame and performing have become part of his routine.

"It's really good experience to get out in front of an audience and perform every night and skate the program well,'' said Goebel, who won a silver medal earlier this month at the World Championships in Nagano.

Known as the "quad king'' for his ability to complete four rotations on a single jump, Goebel was the first American to land a quadruple jump in competition in 1998. The first to land three quads in one program in 1999, Goebel landed three quads to capture the bronze medal in Salt Lake City.

He started polishing his signature jump at age 14 while living in the Cleveland area and training under 1960 Olympic champion Carol Heiss Jenkins.

Although he often earned high technical marks, artistic marks often came in low. He focused too much on his jumps and not enough on everything in between.

Two years ago, he switched trainers and began working with Michelle Kwan's former coach, Frank Carroll, in El Segundo, Calif.

That change made all the difference.

Carroll insisted that Goebel take ballet and dance classes to improve his artistry and fluidity.

"Change is hard for any athlete,'' Goebel said. "It was almost too much new stuff, and it was very hard. But it was certainly worth the effort.''

Despite his newfound celebrity, reality sank in quickly for Goebel. He has his sights on the 2006 Winter Olympics.

"I'm already thinking about next season and what I have to do next year,'' Goebel said. "I enjoyed the experience of winning a medal, but I'm moving on.

"I have a lot of work to do.''