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Raised in the Ukraine, the country for which she skated at the Olympics, she lost her father at two when he left, her grandparents (with whom she and her mother lived) when she was ten, and her mother when she was 13. She beat Nancy Kerrigan in the 1994 Olympics for the gold in women's figure skating, in the wake of the skating scandal when the husband and associates of skater Tonya Harding deliberately injured Kerrigan. After the 1994 Olympics, Baiul moved to the United States where celebrity status, some injuries and a drinking problem led to out-of-control behavior including a car crash in November, 1997. She went through a rehab program in 1998 and returned to skating professionally.