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Sarah Hughes
Sarah Hughes.jpg
Hughes at the 2001–2002 Grand Prix Final
Personal information
Full name Sarah Elizabeth Hughes
Country represented United States
Born (1985-05-02) May 2, 1985 (age 38)
Great Neck, New York, U.S.
Height 1.65 m (5 ft 5 in)
Former coach Robin Wagner
Skating club Skating Club of New York
Retired 2003
Medal record
Ladies' figure skating
Representing  United States
Olympic Games
Gold 2002 Salt Lake City Singles
World Championships
Bronze 2001 Vancouver Singles
Grand Prix Final
Bronze 2000–01 Tokyo Singles
Bronze 2001–02 Kitchener Singles
World Junior Championships
Silver 1999 Zagreb Ladies' singles

Sarah Elizabeth Hughes (born May 2, 1985) is an American politician and former competitive figure skater. She is the 2002 Olympic Champion and the 2001 World bronze medalist in ladies' singles.

Personal life

Hughes was born in Great Neck, New York, a suburb on Long Island. Her father, John Hughes, was a Canadian of Irish descent and was one of the captains of the undefeated and untied NCAA champion 1969–70 Cornell University ice hockey team. Her mother, Amy Pastarnack, is Jewish and is a breast cancer survivor. This led Hughes 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 New York City. Hughes has supported this program for over ten years.

Hughes attended Great Neck North High School. In 2003, she began her studies at Yale University where she was in Timothy Dwight College. 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. She graduated from the University of Pennsylvania Law School on May 15, 2018. As of May 2023, Hughes was pursuing a business degree at Stanford University.

Hughes had previously dated former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani's son Andrew Giuliani in 2011, whom she befriended in 2005.

Hughes is the fourth of six children. One of her younger sisters, Emily, is also a figure skater and competed at the 2006 Winter Olympics. She is the cousin of Gregg "Opie" Hughes, from the Opie and Anthony radio show.

Skating career

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 and won the silver medal at the 1998–1999 Junior Grand Prix Final. She also took silver at the 1999 World Junior Championships held in November 1998. At the 1999 U.S. Championships, Hughes won the pewter medal in her senior-level debut. As the fourth-place finisher, Hughes would not normally have received one of the three spots for U.S. ladies at the 1999 World Championships, however, Naomi Nari Nam, the silver medalist, was not age-eligible for the event according to ISU rules. Hughes was likewise not age-eligible, but at the time a loophole existed for skaters who had medaled at Junior Worlds. Hughes was sent to senior Worlds and finished 7th in her debut.

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.

On September 7, 2001, at the age of 16, Hughes was invited to meet United States National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice.

In the 2000–2001 season, Hughes 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 World Championships, she won the bronze medal.

In the 2001–2002 season, Hughes again competed on the Grand Prix, winning the 2001 Skate Canada International while placing second at her other two events. She won her second consecutive bronze medal at the Grand Prix Final and 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 won the gold medal in what was widely considered one of the biggest upsets in figure skating history. She was the youngest skater in the competition, and was not expected to seriously challenge the favorites, teammate Michelle Kwan and Russia's Irina Slutskaya. Hughes became the first woman in Olympic history to land two triple jump-triple jump combinations in a 4-minute free skate. Kwan, Slutskaya, and Sasha Cohen (the three skaters that finished ahead of Hughes in the short program), all made significant mistakes in the free skate, clearing the way for Hughes to win gold. Her Lutz jump was flawed, but her difficult and successful jump combinations made up for it. Her artistry, above-average edge quality, and ice coverage combined to establish her as a "strong all-around skater" and ensured her gold-medal win.

Sarah Hughes George W Bush
Hughes meets President George W. Bush on April 12, 2002.

After her Olympic win, Hughes was honored with a parade in her hometown of Great Neck, attended by U.S. Senators Hillary Clinton and Charles Schumer as well as Governor George Pataki. 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., becoming the third figure skater to win this award after Dick Button (1949) and Michelle Kwan (2001).

Hughes did not compete at the 2002 World Championships. In 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 and skated professionally with the Smuckers Stars on Ice tour company. She was inducted into the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame in 2005.

Richard Krawiec wrote a biography about her, Sudden Champion: The Sarah Hughes Story (2002).

Skating technique

Hughes employed a variety of triple-triple jump combinations, including a triple loop-triple loop, triple salchow-triple loop, and a triple toe-triple loop. She would also perform the triple loop jump which she often completed out of and following a back spiral. She was known for her camel spin with a change of edge as well as her spiral position. Unlike most skaters, she executed jumps and spins clockwise.


On May 15, 2023, Hughes filed paperwork to run for Congress as a Democrat in New York's 4th congressional district. She withdrew from the race on September 9.


Season Short program Free skating Exhibition
  • La Bayadere
    by Ludwig Minkus
    English Chamber Orchestra
  • Daphnis et Chloé
    by Maurice Ravel
    Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
  • Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini (Variation XI)
    by Sergei Rachmaninoff
    Boston Pops Orchestra
  • Piano Concerto No. 2, Adagio
    by Sergei Rachmaninoff
    London Symphony Orchestra
  • Vocalise
    by Sergei Rachmaninoff
  • Don Quixote
    by Ludwig Minkus
  • Serenade fur Klara
Beatles medley:
  • Yesterday
  • I Saw Her Standing There
  • Good Night


GP: Grand Prix; JGP: Junior Grand Prix

Event 97–98 98–99 99–00 00–01 01–02 02–03
Winter Olympics 1st
World Champ. 7th 5th 3rd WD 6th
GP Final 3rd 3rd
GP Cup of Russia 3rd
GP Skate America 4th 2nd 2nd
GP Skate Canada 1st
GP Sparkassen Cup 2nd
GP Trophée Lalique 3rd 2nd
Vienna Cup 1st
International: Junior
World Junior Champ. 2nd
JGP Final 2nd
JGP Hungary 2nd
JGP Mexico 2nd
U.S. Championships 1st J 4th 3rd 2nd 3rd 2nd
J = Junior level

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Sarah Hughes para niños

  • List of notable Jewish figure skaters
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