All it took was a Care Bear to get Tara Lipinski to put on a pair of skates for the first time. Her mom saw an ad in the local newspaper for a roller-skating lesson that came with one of the free plush animals. And this Saturday, all it’s going to take is the Olympic gold medalist herself to get up to 50 tykes on the ice with her at Hotel Del Coronado’s Skate by the Sea with Tara Lipinski.
As part of the hotel's 130th anniversary celebration, kids have the opportunity to glide, skim, and slide over the ice alongside the famous figure skater at the Del's Skating by the Sea rink from 4 to 5 p.m. on December 15. Tickets start at $150 and include hot chocolate and cookies, plus a photo op with Lipinski, who’s also curating a holiday Spotify playlist for the event, meant to invoke nostalgia in adults, her youthful skating companions, and even her, too.
"I love all Christmas songs, but ‘Santa Baby’ is my favorite," she says. "I skated to it as a little girl, so many times as a competitor and during Christmas shows."
After that first lap around the roller rink when she was six, Lipinski says she had "dreamt of becoming an Olympian and the possibility of ever standing on top of a podium. I looked up to so many skaters that were there before me."
Less than a decade later, she was standing up on the top box at the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan, making history as the youngest gold medalist ever in figure skating.
She has since hung up her competitive blades to instead embrace her sport as so many of us do—a holiday tradition—and for a second career in broadcasting, often with her notable sidekick Johnny Weir.
"I could have gone an easier route instead of live television, but there must be something in me that loves that high you get from the nerves and pressure," she says. "I grew up competing and getting nervous on a regular basis, and I feel like I’ve always learned how to use it to my advantage."
Which means her visit to the Del will be all fun and games, even being surrounded tons of kids.
"The more the merrier," she says. "It warms my heart to see people skating."
As for skating by a beach? That’s a scene that’s even Lipinski says is hard to beat.
"The setting is what I’m most looking forward to. I love the Del, it’s so beautiful," she says. She also says that an ice rink can boost everyone’s holiday spirit, which she jests, "California sometimes needs with all the palm trees!"
Skate by the Sea with Tara Lipinski