Hughes, Sarah Elizabeth

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HUGHES, SARAH ELIZABETH (1985– ), U.S. figure skater; Olympic gold medal winner. Hughes was born in Manhasset, n.y., the fourth of six children, and grew up in Great Neck, n.y., where she was an honor student at Great Neck North High School. Her father, John, was the captain of the Cornell hockey team that won the national collegiate championship in 1970. Hughes' mother is Jewish, although the family does not formally practice religion. Hughes began skating at age three, and came to prominence in 1998 when she won the U.S. Junior Figure Skating Championships, one of three skaters to capture the Junior before the age of 13, and then finished second in the 1998 Junior World Championships. The next year she qualified for the World Championships, finishing seventh, the highest-placing 13-year-old in modern figure skating history. Hughes won a bronze at the 2000 U.S. Nationals, bronze at the 2001 Grand Prix Finals, silver at the 2001 U.S. Nationals, bronze at the 2001 World Championship, bronze at the 2002 Grand Prix Finals, and bronze at the 2002 U.S. Nationals. She then won the gold at the Salt Lake City Olympics with a near-perfect final skate featuring seven triple jumps, including two triple-triple combinations, an unprecedented feat for a female skater at the time. She was 16, the fourth-youngest Olympic woman figure skating champion of all time, and the first Jew to capture the gold medal in figure skating. Indeed, three of the top four women in the Olympic figure skating competition had at least one Jewish parent. The following year, Hughes won another silver at the 2003 U.S. Nationals. Her younger sister Emily is also a skater, and was a bronze medallist at the 2005 women's International Skating Union World Junior Figure Skating Championships.

Hughes also won a variety of awards and honors, including the 2002 Sullivan Award Winner, 2002 Presidential Award for Academic Excellence, 2002 usoc Sportswoman of the Year, March of Dimes 2002 Sportswoman of the Year, and Woman's Sports Foundation 2002 Sportswoman of the Year.

[Elli Wohlgelernter (2nd ed.)]