Originally created 04/24/98

Lipinski practices on ice for pro debut



NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. -- Olympic champion Tara Lipinski, who will turn pro with Friday's performance at the 1998 Skate TV Championships, says she's ready to move on to another facet of figure skating.

"I've been training hard for 13 years, and after I won the gold, to go back for another one would really be hard," she said.

Lipinski displayed her usual perseverance as she repeatedly rehearsed her routines Thursday, along with French skater Surya Bonaly, who also is making her professional debut.

Both skaters' mothers were on hand, offering advice.

Lipinski, sporting midriff-bearing outfits, practiced her routine to the song "Oh, Tara" by the Knack so many times that the sound man eventually asked, "OK, who doesn't know that song by heart yet?"

She practiced segments without jumps, with only jumps (three triples for each routine) and with different lighting. And she never fell.

Lipinski said it was her first chance to really focus on the new routines. "I just got them last week," she said. "We were working a lot of things out tonight, making sure things were right."

Competing as a pro won't hold the pressure of the Olympics or world championships, but she doesn't plan to ease up.

"I think I'll just try to `up' everything -- the technical and the artistic," Lipinski said. "Professional competitions are a little more relaxed, but they are still competitions."