Nicole Bobek

Nicole Bobek
Nicole Bobek
Personal information
Full name Nicole Bobek
Country represented  United States
Born August 23, 1977 (1977-08-23) (age 34)
Retired 1999

Nicole Bobek (born August 23, 1977) is an American figure skater. She is the 1995 U.S. Champion and World bronze medalist.



An only child, Bobek was raised by her Czech mother, Jana, and her friend Joyce Barron.[1] Her parents were never married and she has never met her father, nor has any desire to do so.[1][2]

Skating career

Bobek's fondness for skating started when she was three.[2] She first came to national prominence by placing 2nd at the novice level of the U.S. Championships in 1989; Bobek was 11 years old. In the next few seasons, she worked her way up the competitive rankings at the national level. She was known as an athletic jumper and a charismatic performer, but an erratic competitor and undisciplined student, often arriving late to training and skipping school.[1] Bobek placed 4th at the 1992 World Junior Championships, but the next year dropped to 16th at the same event. She made her first appearance at the senior World Championships in 1994, as an alternate (after both Nancy Kerrigan and Tonya Harding dropped out of the event), but failed to advance out of the qualifying round.

The 1995 season brought Bobek her greatest competitive success; she won gold at the U.S. Championships, followed by the bronze medal at the World Championships. In late 1995, Bobek toured with an ice show production of The Nutcracker, rather than rehabilitate an ankle injury or train for the upcoming 1996 U.S. Championships.[3] The injury forced her out of the event, and off the World team for that season. She parted ways with her coach Richard Callaghan and joined Carlo Fassi.[3]

Bobek struggled with back problems during the 1996-97 season but won the bronze medal at the 1997 U.S. Championships.[4] Her coach Carlo Fassi died from a heart attack at the 1997 World Championships. She was coached for a time by his widow, Christa Fassi. She won bronze at the 1998 U.S. Nationals. At the 1998 Winter Olympics, she was impaired by a hip injury and finished in 17th-place.[1] She withdrew from the subsequent World Championships due to another injury.

Bobek left her coach, Christa Fassi, and returned for the 1998-99 season to Richard Callaghan.[3] Callaghan got Bobek back into shape and prepared her for the Grand Prix Series. She finished 4th at Skate America and 2nd at Trophée Lalique. But her season ended quickly with a series of injuries and health problems, which prevented her from competing at the 1999 U.S. National Championships. Bobek then turned professional, touring with Champions on Ice for several years until 2004.[1] She also appeared in numerous other shows and professional competitions. Bobek then worked as a skating coach in Florida. In 2006, Bobek added acting to her resume; she appeared in All the King's Men, as a skater who fascinates Governor Willy Stark.

"[Bobek] coupled athleticism with ingenuity, choreographing her own routines and often improvising during performances. She was a master at playing to crowds who were wowed by her beauty and grace and a flexibility that seemed to ease her effortlessly into a trademark spiral move, her leg held straight up to her ear." sportswriter Amy K. Nelson on Bobek's skating.[2]

At her peak, Bobek was a strong jumper although some of her jumps did not have the best technique; for instance, she had a very marked flutz, (a lutz jump which is done from the wrong edge). She had a lasting impact on ladies' figure skating because of her signature move, a spiral with the free leg extended very high. Television commentators including Dick Button and Peggy Fleming were so complimentary of Bobek's spiral that it was widely copied by other U.S. skaters, setting off a fad for extreme flexibility moves.

Bobek was noted for her poor training discipline,[1] for occasionally smoking cigarettes, for wearing a lot of jewelry while performing on the ice, and for changing coaches at least 11 times during her competitive skating career. She trained in California, Michigan, Colorado, Florida and Virginia.[1] At one point she explained her behavior by saying: "I'm a teenager. That's what we do."[citation needed] In addition to Richard Callaghan and Carlo and Christa Fassi, Bobek's coaches included Debbie Stoery, Kathy Casey, Hoon Kim, Barbara Roles, Frank Carroll, Robin Cousins, and Mary and Evy Scotvold.


Bobek's skating led to an endorsement contract with Campbell's Soup. Along with fellow skaters Michelle Kwan and Tara Lipinski, Bobek appeared in a commercial in the winter of 1998: all three performed dazzling routines at an ice rink. She also appeared in a commercial of Panasonic's 1998 Winter Olympics campaign in Japan.


Bobek appeared in the 2006 remake of the film All The King's Men, starring Sean Penn and based on the novel of the same name by Robert Penn Warren. She appears on skates in a scene directly from the novel.

Legal problems

In November 1994, Bobek was charged with first degree home invasion after using an access code to enter a friend's garage and home in Michigan. She allegedly took cash from a purse, but was caught when the home owner arrived, at which point she returned the money. She claimed to have been given permission by another member of the household to enter the house and retrieve the cash.

At that time, Bobek was 17 years old, legally an adult under Michigan criminal law,[5] but eligible for probation with a record of the offense sealed from the public record under a special law for youthful first offenders. She pled guilty under that law, the Holmes Youthful Trainee Act, and in January 1995 was given two years' probation and a choice between 50 hours of community service and 30 days in jail. Information regarding her case soon spread widely through skating circles, and was leaked to the news media. Under the Youthful Trainee Act, cases are to remain confidential; so in February 1995, she filed for dismissal of her case. Though journalists and legal scholars have argued that Michigan law allows journalists to release information about juvenile criminals if there is "compelling public interest," [6] which was arguable due to her status as a world class figure skater, Bobek's motion for probation discharge was granted by the court.[7]

In late 2006, Nicole Bobek's mother made and dropped a petition to have her sent to rehab, worrying her daughter would break off contact.[1] On July 6, 2009, Bobek was charged with conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and alleged to be a member of a drug ring.[8][8] On June 18, 2010 she pled guilty,[9] and on August 16 was sentenced to five years' probation,[10][11] 250 hours of community service, and a $2,500 fine.[10]

Bobek has admitted that she is a former drug addict, and said on NBC's Today Show that she wants to help other addicts beat their addictions and would like to do ice show charity benefits.[12] She began taking classes toward a high school equivalency diploma, and working at Palm Beach Skate Zone in Lake Worth, Florida,[1] after having been away from skating for about six years.[3] She did various jobs around the rink, initially unpaid but later officially hired, with the manager saying she was very professional.[1] In 2010, she began teaching power skating and edge skills to junior hockey players at the rink.[1] Her friend Todd Eldredge invited her to a Stars on Ice show, where she reconnected with her old coach Richard Callaghan and began visiting him once a week to get back in shape.[3] Bobek returned to performing at the Skate for Love benefit for Susan G. Komen for the Cure in April 2011, hosted by her friend JoJo Starbuck.[3] Bobek said, "I've been back on the ice about a year now. It took me a long time to get my balance again after six years; you really lose the rotation and all of those things. It took three months to do a single Axel again."[3]


Event 1988-89 1989-90 1990-91 1991-92 1992-93 1993-94 1994-95 1995-96 1996-97 1997-98 1998-99
Winter Olympics 17th
World Championships 25th 3rd 13th
World Junior Championships 4th 16th
U.S. Championships 2nd N. 4th J. 8th 7th 5th 3rd 1st WD 3rd 3rd
Skate America 6th 7th 6th 4th
Skate Canada International 5th
Trophée Lalique 5th 2nd
Nations Cup 3rd
Cup of Russia 6th
Vienna Cup 1st
Goodwill Games 7th
U.S. Olympic Festival 7th 1st
  • J = Junior level
  • N = Novice Level
  • WD = Withdrawal


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Hersh, Philip (September 11, 2010). "Spinning back into control". Chicago Tribune.,0,2943704,full.story. Retrieved September 11, 2010. 
  2. ^ a b c Nelson, Amy K. (August 11, 2009). "Nicole Bobek: Falling through ice". ESPN. Retrieved August 5, 2010. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Rutherford, Lynn (April 18, 2011). "Bobek returns to the ice, with help from friends". icenetwork. Retrieved April 20, 2011. 
  4. ^ Longman, Jere (February 16, 1997). "Kwan's Slips Open Door For a Younger Champion". The New York Times. Retrieved October 31, 2011. 
  5. ^ "Minors - What are the rights of a 17 year old in criminal proceedings?", Calhoun County (Michigan) Courts Website, downloaded on February 23, 2006.
  6. ^ Jack Kresnak, Juvenile Justice, Chapter 2 of "Covering Crime and Justice," downloaded on February 23, 2006.
  7. ^ PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF MICHIGAN V NICOLE BOBEK legal opinion, downloaded from the website on February 23, 2006.
  8. ^ a b Zeitlinger, Ron (July 6, 2009). "Former skating champ Nicole Bobek is charged with 'significant role' in drug ring". The Jersey Journal. Archived from the original on June 23, 2010. 
  9. ^ Conte, Michelangelo (June 18, 2010). "Former figure skating champion Nicole Bobek pleads guilty to role in major Hudson County drug ring". The Jersey Journal. Archived from the original on June 23, 2010. 
  10. ^ a b Henry, Samantha (August 16, 2010). "Ex-skate champ Bobek gets probation on meth count". Associated Press. Archived from the original on August 16, 2010. 
  11. ^ "Ex-figure skater Nicole Bobek gets probation for role in N.J. drug ring". The Jersey Journal. Associated Press. August 16, 2010. Archived from the original on August 16, 2010. 
  12. ^ The Jersey Journal Staff (August 20, 2010). "Nicole Bobek, former ice skating champ sentenced this week in Jersey City for role in Hudson County methamphetamine ring, says she wants to help others beat their addictions". The New Jersey Journal. .

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