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Oksana Baiul

Oksana Baiul (born on November 16, 1977 in Dnipropetrovsk, Ukrainian SSR, Soviet Union) is a Ukrainian former competitive figure skater.

She is the 1993 World champion and the 1994 Olympic champion in ladies' singles.

Oksana is the first skater representing Ukraine to win gold at the Winter Olympics and the first Olympic champion of independent Ukraine in any sport.

CareerEdit

Early Skating CareerEdit

As a child, Oksana was interested in ballet, but was not considered thin enough. Her grandmother took her to skating lessons, saying it was "ballet on skates".

Her grandfather was also supportive of her skating, which she began when she was 3 years old in Dnipropetrovsk. He believed that Oksana could be a future prima ballerina and that skating was a fine training ground for dance. Oksaa pursued ballet, but ultimately chose ice skating.

As Oksana trained, her mother paid for her training expenses, including lessons, costumes, and equipment. By the age of five, she was studying with Stanislav Koritek, a prominent Ukrainian coach.

She was coached by Koritek until he was offered a coaching job in Toronto, Ontario, in March of 1992. He accepted due to lack of support for the sport in Ukraine after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

In August of 1992, his father, Alfred, the vice-president of the Ukrainian skating federation, called coach Galina Zmievskaya on Oksana's behalf. She took her on as a student, arranging for the girl to move to her home in Odessa.

Zmievskaya welcomed her into her circle of elite skaters, and provided her shelter in her family's cramped three-room apartment in the city.

Under Zmievskaya's training, Oksana made rapid progress.

Her other coach in Odessa was Valentin Nikolayev. She represented FSC "Ukraine" (Odessa, Dnipropetrovsk).

1993 European and World ChampionshipsEdit

Oksana took the silver medal at the 1993 European Championships in Helsinki, finishing second to Surya Bonaly of France.

Prior to the 1993 World Championships in Prague, she crashed into the boards and displaced disks in her back and neck. At the event,Oksana stopped practising and consulted a Czech doctor.

Oksana competed in skates with crooked blades because it was too late to try a new pair. Ranked second in the short program and first in the free skate, she finished ahead of Bonaly and became world champion at the age of 15.

1994 European Championships and Winter OlympicsEdit

In 1994, Oksana won the silver medal at the European Championships in Copenhagen, again finishing second to Bonaly.

At the 1994 Winter Olympics, she was second to Nancy Kerrigan after the short program of Ladies' singles.

During a practice session before the long program, Oksana collided with Germany's Tanja Szewczenko, sustaining a wrenched lower back and a small cut on her right shin, which required her to have three stitches. She received two Olympic-approved pain-killing injections of anesthetics in her lower back and shoulder, which enabled her to compete in the free skate.

Oksana won the Olympic gold medal at 16 years and 101 days old, became one of the youngest figure skating Olympic champions. Kerrigan placed second and Chen Lu placed third.

Oksana was announced as the winner after Surya Bonaly and Katarina Witt completed their respective programs. In addition to her Olympic title, she was also named Merited Master of Sports by Ukraine in 1994.

Professional Touring CareerEdit

Despite their status as Olympic champions, Oksana and Viktor Petrenko faced the same difficulties in Odessa as did their fellow Ukrainians.

They lived in a financially strapped country where meat was a luxury and utility outages were common. Conditions at their rink in Odessa had deteriorated severely due to the lack of financial support from the government for figure skating following the breakup of the Soviet Union.

They didn't have a working ice resurfacer, so coaches and skaters often had to resurface the ice by hand. Such conditions influenced Oksana's decision to turn professional after the 1994 Winter Olympics even though she was only 16 years old at the time.

Zmievskaya negotiated a very profitable contract for Oksana to tour the United States following the Olympics, an opportunity available only to professionals.

In May of 1994, she signed an agreement with the American talent agency William Morris Endeavor.

Oksana said later that her drinking problems began during this tour, saying:

"Except myself, nearly all the figure skaters on the bus were grown-ups, and it was full of alcohol. Most of the skaters were Russians and Americans, and they all drank. That's when I tried it. I was very young, with no one to teach me the right. I thought it was the norm, cause as a teenager you don't want to break away from the majority".

Following the Olympics, Oksana was plagued by physical ailments that affected her skating ability. She required arthroscopic knee surgery in the summer of 1994, after which she was advised by her doctor not to return to the ice for two months.

Due to the million-dollar touring contract, Oksana ignored the doctor's recommendations. She resumed skating in two weeks and returned to performing in six weks. This decision, along with changes in her body, drastically hindered her jumping ability.

Post-Skating CareerEdit

In 1994, Zmievskaya was asked to lead the coaching staff at Simsbury, Connecticut's newly built International Skating Center. Both Oksana and Viktor Petrenko followed her there to train with her.

She portrayed Clara and Dorothy Gale in the CBS productions of "The Nutcracker on Ice" and "The Wizard of Oz on Ice", respectively.

In May of 1997, Oksana was dropped from the "Champions on Ice" tour due to concerns about her drinking. She decided to part ways with Zmievskaya the same year. She had completed a rehab program and in August 1998, she began training under Natalia Linichuk at the University of Delaware's skating center.

Oksana has continued to skate professionally from time to time, including an engagement with the touring show Broadway on Ice.

In December of 2006, she skated at the Red Square ice rink in Moscow alongside champions from Russia, China, France, and other countries.

In February of 2007, she collaborated with Saule Rachmedova, a renowned ballet dancer, to bring together Ice Theatre of New York and couture fashion for the debut of fashion designer Levi Okunov's "Winter Collection."

The following month, Oksana appeared on MTV's "Total Request Live"; she was promoting the 2007 film "Blades of Glory", starring Will Ferrell.

Oksana had a role in the skating stage musical, "Cold as Ice." The story explores six skaters from Canada, Russia, and the United States preparing for their national championships and the Olympics while dealing with demanding coaches, stage mothers, stage coaches, and other trials.

The story was conceived and written by former skater Frank D'Agostino. A full stage version of "Cold As Ice" was produced and presented by the Gateway Playhouse in May of 2007.

On March 8, 2009, and again on March 14, 2010, she made guest appearances at the Kate Wollman Skating Rink at Prospect Park in Brooklyn, New York, as part of its annual show. She also took part in meet-and-greet sessions with skating students after each performance.

She has her own line of clothing and jewelry.

In November 2005, Oksana appeared on the Bravo television program "Celebrity Poker Showdown."

She was also part of the celebrity panel of judges (along with Steve Garvey and Jonny Moseley) on the ABC show "Master of Champions" which aired briefly in 2006.

In November of 2011, Oksana's manager (and future husband), Carlo Farina discovered accounting and collection discrepancies in her account at William Morris Endeavor.

After collecting $9.5 million from the company, she filed a lawsuit in November of 2012 in Los Angeles for an additional $1 million in compensatory damages and more in punitive damages.

Oksana sued NBCUniversal in February 2013 for their alleged illicit promotional use of her likeness. Having withdrawn the November case, she filed a broader lawsuit in New York in October of 2013.

In January of 2015, Oksana publicly accused her former coach Galina Zmievskaya, Viktor Petrenko, and their manager, Joseph Lemire, of fraud, claiming they 'have been stealing money' from her for more than a decade.

In addition, she accused Lemire of fraudulent attempts to represent her in multiple court proceedings in Ukraine against the state, concerning various assets.

Competitive HighlightsEdit

International
Event 1989–90 1990–91 1991–92 1992–93 1993–94
Winter Olympics 1st
World Championship 1st
European Championship 2nd 2nd
Skate America 1st
Nations Cup 4th 2nd
National
Ukrainian Championship 1st 1st
Soviet Championship 12th 10th

Medal RecordEdit

Olympic Games

  • Gold medal: 1st place (1994 Lillehammer)

World Championships

  • Gold medal: 1st place (1993 Prague)

European Championships

  • Silver medal: 2nd place (1993 Helsinki)
  • Silver medal: 2nd place (1994 Copenhagen)

Personal LifeEdit

Oksana's parents divorced when she was two years old and she was raised by her mother, Marina (a French teacher) and her maternal grandparents.

Her grandfather died in 1987 and her grandmother died a year later. In 1991, when Oksana was 13 years old, her mother suddenly died of ovarian cancer. Her father attended her mother's funeral, but Oksana didn't want anything to do with him; he died in 2006.

Oksana lived with the wife of her coach, Stanislav Koritek, who had moved to Canada, and then with friends. After moving to Odessa in mid-1992, she lived chiefly in a dormitory, with her expenses being covered by the state because of her promise in skating.

In 1993, she lived with coach Galina Zmievskaya for a month between the European and World championships.

After the 1994 Winter Olympics, Oksana moved to Simsbury, Connecticut, the location of the International Skating Center of Connecticut.

In the late 1990s, she lived in Richmond, Virginia for several years before moving to Cliffside Park, New Jersey. After living there for 14 years, she moved to Pennsylvania in March of 2012, settling in Upper Makefield Township, Bucks County.

In January of 1997, Oksana was arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol after crashing her car into a tree in Bloomfield, Connecticut; the charges were dropped after she met the terms of probation and completed an alcohol education program.

However, her drinking problem got worse and in May of 1997, she entered an alcohol rehabilitation program for two and a half months.

In a 2004 interview, Oksana said she had been sober for six years, saying, "This is more important than Olympic gold."

As of January 2015, Oksana is married to her manager, Carlo Farina; she now uses the name Oksana Baiul-Farina and they live in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Charitable InvolvementsEdit

On March 27, 2010, Oksana skated at a figure skating exhibition for One Step Closer HIV AIDS. She performed her signature "Swan Lake" program and was part of the meet-and-greet after the show.

Oksana supports the Tikva Children's Home Charity, which works to aid the Jewish children of Odessa.

In addition, she supports and is a member of the International Museum of Women which celebrates the lives of women around the world.

She also funded a program to donate sled dogs to underprivileged Inuit children.