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How Olympic Gold Medalist Tara Lipinski Stays Motivated: ‘I'm Competitive'

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Tara Lipinski became a household name in 1998 when she became the youngest Olympic gold medalist in the history of figure skating. But that early success never zapped her of motivation.

Instead, Lipinski found success after the Olympics skating professionally on tour and is currently a figure skating analyst for NBC Sports. Even after getting off the ice for the last time, the same factors that drove her to succeed in figure skating have helped her in her professional career, Lipinski tells CNBC Make It.

"I'm competitive. There's really no way around that," Lipinski says. "I like to succeed and I like to figure things out. I find that when you do — even if it's not always a success — the process of getting there is exciting and you never know what's going to happen."

Tara Lipinski of the United States (middle) raises her arm with a bouquet of flowers to celebrate winning the gold medal alongside silver medallist Michelle Kwan (right) and bronze medallist Chen Lu of China in the Ladies Figure Skating Singles competition of the XVIII Olympic Winter Games.
Jamie Squire | Hulton Archive | Getty Images
Tara Lipinski of the United States (middle) raises her arm with a bouquet of flowers to celebrate winning the gold medal alongside silver medallist Michelle Kwan (right) and bronze medallist Chen Lu of China in the Ladies Figure Skating Singles competition of the XVIII Olympic Winter Games.

The 39-year-old says she likes to "pick impossible things to do" and see if she can accomplish them. She also likes to have an internal "competition" between herself and her goal.

"I don't think that I could wake up and just be happy without having something to work toward," she says. "It's fun, even if it doesn't always go your way."

Lipinski says she decided she wanted to be a commentator in the late 2000s while watching the world championships on TV, knowing full well that there were other commentators like Peggy Fleming and Scott Hamilton who were already established "in their positions for 20-plus years."

But she went for it anyway. "Why I ever thought that this was something that was going to be my next goal is beyond me," she says. "I knew very well that this may not happen. But I've been commentating since 2009, 2010.

"You work hard at [something] and you see where it goes."

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