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She's so tiny
ABC Sports Online


Tara Lipinski became the youngest female world champion in 1997 in Lausanne, Switzerland. ABC's Wide World figure skating announcers Peggy Fleming and Terry Gannon share their recollections of Lipinski's dream come true.

Peggy Fleming
I remember the first time I saw Tara Lipinski. It was at a practice session, and she was so tiny out there, that her head didn't even come up to the bang-boards. She was out there practicing with Michelle Kwan and all these real seasoned competitors, and she was not intimidated at all. She went out and practiced all of her triples, went through her program and she just fit right in.

I remember meeting her after that practice and I remember giving her a hug and wishing her good luck, and it felt like I was hugging my 12-year-old son. I mean she was so tiny. But, you know, she has a different aura about her, she's very ambitious for a 12-year-old. She was very ambitious, for such a young skater, and so determined and so grown up for her age.

Tara Lipinski
At age 14, Tara Lipinski became the youngest woman to ever win a world chamnpionship.
I didn't think she had a chance of winning. She was so young and so tiny, I just thought she was gonna have to wait her turn, and that's the tradition in skating. But she just shot to the top. I couldn't believe she could handle the pressure and go out there and skate like she could skate. She was just phenomenal.

Terry Gannon
The previous year, she had struggled in the short program, and then came back in the free skate just to light up the building. And so here is this little girl, spinning top. It looked so different than anything else you saw on the ice that she really woke up the skating world at that World Championship.

So going into Lauzanne, people knew about Tara Lipinski. They knew what she could do, they knew how talented she was. They also knew she was changing skating at the time, and making jumps more and more important, and doing things that other skaters couldn't do. So everyone knew she had a shot to stand on the podium, and maybe win the gold medal. But when you looked at her on the ice, in your mind you just went, "What is she doing out there? What's this little girl doing out there with all these young women?" And so I think you were reserved in giving her a chance to actually win the gold.

To make her victory even more impressive, now, she wouldn't even be eligible to compete at the World Championships if she were that age -- under 15. Now you can't even go if you're not 15 years of age. So at the time, there was no rule. I don't think anyone had thought of the fact that a young girl could go ahead and win.

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 Tara Lipinski became the youngest World Champion in 1997 at age 14 (Courtesy: ABC Sports)
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