Okay that's a slight lie -- Tai Babilonia (at right) turned 51 last week! But it's so much more dramatic to say the big five oh. Why is that significant? Well, in addition to 50 (or 51) being a milestone age in anyone's life, Tai was completely reinventing herself while turning 51. For those asking, "Great name, who is she?" Tai is a legend in the US figure skating circle -- With pairs partner Randy Gardner, Tai and Randy won the US Championships five times and also won the 1979 World Championships. They were a leading contender to win Olympic gold in Lake Placid in 1980 before withdrawing when Randy hurt himself during a warmup. After turning pro shortly thereafter, they headlined a ton of ice shows and were the picture of happiness and perfection. Unbeknownst to the public, Tai was struggling with drugs, alcohol, a suicide attempt and an eating disorder. She bounced back and is now focusing on a variety of projects.
Back to the reinventing part -- A few years years ago, Tai moved from Los Angeles where she had been all her life, to Ashland, Oregon. She said she removed herself from the stress of LA and in calm and peaceful Ashland, started coaching a little and continuing to devote her time to a line of skatewear called the Tai Collection. I believe her teenage son remained back in LA as he was attending school and was seriously into tennis. Tai also turned vegan, or vegetarian or something -- she's into animal rights bottom line. In fact, last November, on behalf of PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), she railed against people wearing fur by skating around Rockefeller Rink almost nude holding a No Fur sign (see video below). Earlier this year, she was in NYC so I had a chance to catch up on her latest endeavors and that is our interview above. Enjoy!
Tai skates almost nude for animal rights at Rockefeller Rink: