In a thrilling, surprise victory, Sarah Hughes won the gold medal for figure skating at the 2002 Olympics, becoming the first American to win that honor without ever having won a World or US senior national title. Hughes began skating at age three and won her first junior title at the US Championships in 1998. For the next three years, she competed at the junior and then senior level in international competitions, but never placed higher than second. Despite this, her bronze medals at the Grand Prix Final and the US Championships in 2002 qualified her for the Olympics. That year, Michelle Kwan was expected to win the gold medal for figure skating, but Sarah Hughes’s stunning long-form program with multiple perfectly executed triple-jump combinations earned her first place. She retired the following year at age seventeen. In 2009 she graduated from Yale with a bachelor’s in American studies. She has used her fame to highlight causes such as Figure Skating in Harlem, which offers free skating lessons and academic tutoring to at-risk girls in New York, and breast cancer awareness in honor of her mother, a breast cancer survivor.
How to cite this page
Jewish Women's Archive. "Sarah Hughes." (Viewed on June 3, 2023) <https://jwa.org/encyclopedia/article/hughes-sarah>.