Sarah Hughes

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

Sarah Hughes
Sarah Hughes.jpg
Hughes at the 2001–2002 Grand Prix Final
Personal information
Full nameSarah Elizabeth Hughes
Country representedUnited States
Born (1985-05-02) May 2, 1985 (age 37)
Great Neck, New York, U.S.
Height1.65 m (5 ft 5 in)
Former coachRobin Wagner
Skating clubSkating Club of New York

Personal lifeEdit

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[1] 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."[2] 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.[3]

Hughes attended Great Neck North High School.[4] In 2003, she began her studies at Yale University where she was in Timothy Dwight College.[5] 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.[6] She graduated from the University of Pennsylvania Law School on May 15, 2018.[7]

Sarah 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.[citation needed]


Hughes began skating at the age of three.[8] Robin Wagner, who also choreographed for her from 1994, became her head coach in January 1998.[4][8]

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.[9] Hughes was sent to senior Worlds and finished 7th in her debut.[10]

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.[11] She placed 5th at the 2000 World Championships.[10]

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.[10]

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.[12]

The week before the opening of the 2002 Olympics, Hughes appeared on the cover of Time magazine.[13]

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.[14]

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. Senator Hillary 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.[citation needed] She became 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.[citation needed]

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.[15]

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

Skating techniqueEdit

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. Her best jump was perhaps the triple loop 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.[citation needed] Unlike most skaters, she executed jumps and spins clockwise.


Season Short program Free skating Exhibition
  • Vocalise
    by Sergei Rachmaninoff
  • 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[19]
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 alsoEdit


  1. ^ "A Pint of Guinness, A Cup of Manischevitz: Some Irish/Jewish Connections - InterfaithFamily". Retrieved 10 September 2019.
  2. ^ Elfman, Lois (2005). "Sarah Hughes- Golden Opportunities". Archived from the original on 18 October 2005.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  3. ^ "Sarah Hughes at figure skating in Harlem fundraiser". 21 March 2009. Retrieved 4 January 2011.
  4. ^ a b c Mittan, Barry (21 November 2001). "Hughes Rapid Rise Rivals Lipinski's". Golden Skate.
  5. ^ Yu, Zizi (12 October 2012). "Olympic skater returns to campus". Yale Daily News. Retrieved 13 December 2020.
  6. ^ Benet, Lorenzo (7 June 2009). "Michelle Kwan & Sarah Hughes Graduate College". People Magazine. Retrieved 7 June 2009.
  7. ^ "Sarah Hughes". Lean In. Retrieved 10 September 2019.
  8. ^ a b c Mittan, J. Barry (2000) [1999]. "Hughes Rapid Rise Rivals Lipinski's; Hughes Balances Schoolwork and Skating". Archived from the original on May 14, 2012.
  9. ^ Loosemore, Sandra (16 March 2000). "Junior skaters shouldn't face senior pressure". CBS Sportsline. Archived from the original on 13 October 2008.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  10. ^ a b c "Sarah HUGHES". Retrieved 2 December 2021.
  11. ^ Longman, Jere (14 February 2000). "FIGURE SKATING; Kwan Wins, but Challengers Are Rising Fast to Meet Her". The New York Times.
  12. ^ Robbins, Liz (23 February 2002). "OLYMPICS: FIGURE SKATING; Gold for Hughes a Surprise, But Perfection Is a Standard". New York Times. Retrieved 16 June 2020.
  13. ^ "TIME Magazine Cover: Sarah Hughes - Feb. 11, 2002". Retrieved 26 October 2020.
  14. ^ Hersh, Philip. "U.S.' Hughes pulls off shocking upset". Retrieved 15 February 2022.
  15. ^ "International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame". Retrieved 10 September 2019.
  16. ^ "Sarah HUGHES: 2002/2003". International Skating Union. Archived from the original on 8 June 2003.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  17. ^ "Sarah HUGHES: 2001/2002". International Skating Union. Archived from the original on 14 April 2002.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  18. ^ "Sarah HUGHES: 2000/2001". International Skating Union. Archived from the original on 19 April 2001.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  19. ^ a b c "Sarah HUGHES". International Skating Union. Archived from the original on 26 April 2017.

External linksEdit