See Figure Skater Oksana Baiul Now, 28 Years After Winning Olympic Gold
The star has dealt with some personal struggles but is still at home on the ice.
Oksana Baiul isn't just one of the select few women to win gold in ladies' figure skating at the Olympics over the years, she's also the only woman from Ukraine to earn that top spot on the podium. The skater was just 16 when she won the event in the 1994 Winter Games in Lillehammer, Norway, powering through a recent injury and rising above what is undoubtedly one of the biggest scandals in the sport's history. Today, Baiul is 44 years old, and while she's dealt with some dark times in her life since her gold medal performance, she's still a figure skating legend. Read on to find out what she's doing now.
Baiul won gold amid an Olympic scandal.
The 1994 Olympics took place just a few weeks after U.S. competitor Nancy Kerrigan was attacked by a man with a baton after a practice session. It was discovered that the assault had been arranged by Jeff Gillooly, the ex-husband of Kerrigan's Olympic teammate and rival, Tonya Harding. (Harding has maintained that she had no knowledge of the plan but was still banned from the United States Figure Skating Association a few months after Lillehammer.)
Because this was such a huge story and because Harding and Kerrigan were both there competing for Team USA, women's figure skating at that year's Olympics were a media circus. And until Baiul performed, all attention was just on the American women embroiled in a still-ongoing controversy. Kerrigan was heralded for her bravery in coming back from the attack, but she narrowly lost the gold to Baiul, who herself had sustained some injuries. During an Olympics practice session, she collided hard with another skater. Despite that setback, Baiul performed well enough to receive the highest marks from the judges, with Kerrigan winning the silver and Chinese skater Chen Lu coming in third. Harding placed eighth.
She dealt with injuries and addiction issues.
Baiul surrendered her amateur status after the Olympics. Like most stars who turn pro, she embarked on skating tours, took on endorsement deals, and performed in special shows. But the mid to late '90s were a tough time for Baiul. She had to have surgery on her knee in the fall of 1994, which—along with a maturing body—impeded her skating. In 1997, a still-underage Baiul was arrested for drunk driving after a crash that resulted in minor injuries for herself and a friend who was in the car with her. She was kicked off of the Champions on Ice tour due to excessive drinking, as reported by The New York Times, and entered rehab in 1998. After her treatment, she began to train again.
The Times also notes that Baiul believed "her drinking problems began because she achieved too much too fast and did not have parental guidance when she moved to the United States after the 1994 Winter Games."
She's planning a comeback.
Baiul has stayed tied to skating in various ways, performing in the occasional show over the years, founding a clothing line that includes skating dresses, and taking part in various charitable events. In 2017, it was reported that she would play Norwegian skater and movie star Sonja Henie in a biopic, but Sonja Queen of Ice is still listed as being in pre-production on IMDB.
In 2020, Baiul and her husband and manager, Carlo Farina, announced during an appearance on Vegas Revealed that they were developing two residencies in Las Vegas, where they live, that would feature Baiul and other skating stars. No information yet and when and where those shows will take place.
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She's a married mother of one.
Baiul has been married to Farina since 2015, and they have one child, Sophia. The skating star shares glimpses of her family life on her social media, including taking to the ice with her daughter, which she calls her "favorite thing in the world."