Did Tara Lipinski Stand on Tupperware as a Toddler to Imitate Gold Medal Winners?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about the Olympics and Olympians and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the Olympic urban legends featured so far.

OLYMPIC URBAN LEGEND: Tara Lipinski stood on Tupperware as a 2-year-old to imitate the Gold Medal winners at the Olympic Games.

First off, note that it is Tupperware with a capital “T.” I love that my spell-check is looking out for Tupperware’s trademark.

In any event, Tara Lipinski burst on to the world scene in 1997 when she won both the World AND the US Figure Skating Championships at the tender age of 14.

The International Skating Union actually ruled, in 1996, to make 15 the minimum age a skater had to be to compete. However, luckily for Lipinski, they grandfathered her in, so she was able to compete in 1997 at 14.

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The next year, Lipinski once again shocked the world by winning the Olympic Gold Medal for Figure Skating at the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan.

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Lipinski soon went pro.

After a few injuries, her pro career finished and nowadays, she’s pursuing a career in acting and personality work in Los Angeles.

Okay, the legend about Lipinski is a difficult one to pin down, because it involves conflicting reports from her parents, Jack and Pat Lipinksi.

As the story goes, when Tara was 2 years old and the 1984 Summer Olympics were on, she was enthralled by the award ceremonies, so when they went to step on the podium, she wanted to stand on one of her own, so her mother supplied her with a Tupperware podium.

The story changed a lot over the years, with one very popular variation being that it happened when she was 6 years old in 1988, and that it was the WINTER Olympics watching Katarina Witt.

However, the biggest problem the story has is that Tara’s father was quoted in 1997 about the story (which was a popular one even before she won Olympic Gold, although at the time, the story went that she made a podium out of boxes) saying:

It was actually two years ago. And it was Tupperware not boxes. It was the Summer Games. Every time some anthem would be playing, she would stand on a Tupperware bowl.

He continued:

It makes me look bad, the story about the boxes. It was like I was already at that age pushing her to be champion.

In Lipinski’s biography, she repeats the 2-year-old claim.

A couple of years ago, a fan asked her pretty point blank about the confusion between 12 years old (which would be her age if it had happened, like her father said, “two years ago”) and 2 (the fan actually says 3, but I think that’s just confusion) in an online Q&A, and Lipinski answered:

I was actually 2 years old when this happened and this story has been misinterpreted over the years. My mom was watching the 1984 Summer Olympics. When the athletes were on the podium and the anthems were playing, I wanted to copy them. That’s when my mom gave me some Tupperware to stand on.

This is a tough one, but I think I’m going to side with Tara (her mother has also repeated the 2-year-old part) against her father. In fact, I think that there’s a decent chance that he was misquoted and instead of saying “2 years ago” (which wouldn’t even work, as there was no Olympic Games in 1995) he actually said “she was 2 years old.”

A 12-year-old competitive skater sitting on Tupperware pretending to win a medal in 1995 (when there were no Olympics)?

That doesn’t make nearly as much sense as a 2 year old standing on Tupperware mimicking the people she saw on TV in 1984 (when there were Olympics).

So, I’m going with….

STATUS: True.

Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future installments! My e-mail address is [email protected]

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One Response to “Did Tara Lipinski Stand on Tupperware as a Toddler to Imitate Gold Medal Winners?”

  1. I am in sixth grade, and I’m doing a report on Tara Lipinski, I was shocked when I figured out that she was only 14 when she was the greatest and youngest Figure Skater Champion ever! I wonder why she became an acter instead she was so good!

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