Sarah Elizabeth Hughes (born May 2, 1985) is an American figure skater. She is the 2002 Olympic gold medalist and 2001 World bronze medalist in ladies singles. She is the only American woman to have won the Olympic title without ever having won either a World or US National title (in seniors).
Hughes was born in Great Neck, New York. Her father, John Hughes, was born Canadian of Irish descent and was the captain of the NCAA champion 1969–70 Cornell University ice hockey team. This team also featured goalie Ken Dryden, a future Hockey Hall of Famer and member of the Canadian Parliament. Her mother, Amy Pastarnack, is Jewish and is a breast cancer survivor. This led Sarah to become an advocate for breast cancer awareness. She appeared in a commercial for General Electric promoting breast cancer awareness and research. Hughes stated: "I always said that if I can get one person to get a mammogram, I've accomplished something." Among the other causes Hughes supports are Figure Skating in Harlem, which provides free ice skating lessons and academic tutoring for girls in the Harlem community in NYC. Hughes has supported this program for over ten years.
Hughes attended Great Neck High School. In 2003, she began her studies at Yale University. On May 25, 2009, Hughes graduated from Yale and received a bachelor's degree in American studies with a concentration in U.S. politics and communities.
Sarah Hughes began skating at the age of three. Robin Wagner, who also choreographed for her from 1994, became her head coach in January 1998.
Hughes won the junior title at the 1998 U.S. Championships in the 1997–1998 season. The following season, she competed on the ISU Junior Grand Prix, winning the silver medal at the 1998–1999 Junior Grand Prix Final and at the 1999 World Junior Championships. At the 1999 U.S. Championships, which were held after the World Junior Championships, Hughes won the pewter medal. It was her senior-level debut.
The U.S. had three spots to the 1999 World Championships, and Hughes, by placing fourth at Nationals, would not normally have qualified for the team. However, Naomi Nari Nam, the silver medalist, was not age-eligible to compete at Worlds. Hughes was also not age-eligible for the senior World Championships. However, Hughes had won the silver medal at the 1999 World Junior Championships, held in November 1998, and so was allowed by ISU rules to compete at the 1999 World Championships. She finished 7th.
In the 1999–2000 season, Hughes made her Grand Prix debut, winning the bronze medal at the 1999 Trophée Lalique. She won the bronze medal at the 2000 U.S. Championships and was credited with a triple-salchow-triple-loop combination. She placed 5th at the 2000 World Championships.
In the 2000–2001 season, she won three medals on the Grand Prix circuit and won the bronze medal at the 2000–2001 Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final. She won the silver medal at the 2001 U.S. Championships. At the 2001 Worlds, she won the bronze medal.
In the 2001–2002 season, Hughes competed again on the Grand Prix, winning the 2001 Skate Canada International and placing second at her other two events. She won her second consecutive bronze medal at the Grand Prix Final and then won the bronze medal at the 2002 U.S. Championships to qualify for the 2002 Winter Olympics.
The week before the opening of the 2002 Olympics, Hughes appeared on the cover of Time magazine.
At the 2002 Olympics, Hughes placed fourth in the short program after being penalized for underrotating her triple flip and flutz. In her long program, she landed seven triple jumps, including a triple toe loop-triple loop and a triple salchow-triple loop combination. She won the long program, as the three contenders ahead of her after the short program all made mistakes in their respective long programs. Figure Skating rules at the time dictated that if someone placed fourth in the short program, but won the free skate, they could not automatically win the event. Michelle Kwan, who was in first place after the short program would have to lose the free program to Hughes and one other skater as well. Hughes won the free skate, with Irina Slutskaya placing second in that portion, ahead of Kwan. Therefore, the final standings were Hughes in first, Slutskaya in second and Kwan in third. Of note in the final competition: after landing her final jump (flawlessly), she was facing away from the camera but, skating backwards, turned towards the camera. TV commentators immediately noted the "I-can't-believe-I'm-nailing-this" facial expression (denoting both shock and giddy excitement). The image was used on many TV news broadcasts that evening during olympic coverage.
After her Olympic win, Hughes was honored with a parade in her hometown of Great Neck. Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton spoke at the event and declared it Sarah Hughes Day. She received the James E. Sullivan Award as the top amateur athlete in the U.S.
Hughes did not compete at the 2002 Worlds. For the 2002–2003 season, she won the silver medal at the 2003 U.S. Championships and placed sixth at the 2003 World Championships.
Hughes took the 2004–2005 year off from college to skate professionally with the Smuckers Stars on Ice tour company. She was inducted into the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame in 2005.
Hughes' biography, Sudden Champion: The Sarah Hughes Story, was written by Richard Krawiec in 2002.
|Season||Short program||Free skating||Exhibition|
|| Beatles medley:
|Grand Prix Final||3rd||3rd|
|GP Cup of Russia||3rd|
|GP Skate America||4th||2nd||2nd|
|GP Skate Canada||1st|
|U.S. Championships||1st J.||4th||3rd||2nd||3rd||2nd|
|GP = Grand Prix; JGP = Junior Grand Prix; J. = Junior level|
|This page uses content from Wikipedia. The original article was at Sarah Hughes. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with Olympics Wiki, the text of Wikipedia is available under the GNU Free Documentation License.|