United States of America
TeamUnited States of America
Figure SkatingFigure Skating
Olympic Medals
Games Participations1
First Olympic GamesCalgary 1988
Year of Birth1967


Debi Thomas grew up skating at the Los Angeles Figure Skating Club. She was the first skater of African descent to reach the top ranks of international skating. In 1985 she placed second at the US Nationals, moving up to first place in 1986, when she also won the World Championships. In 1987, she was hobbled by Achilles’ tendinitis and was second in both events, losing the World crown to 1984 gold medalist, Katarina Witt. The 1988 Winter Olympic competition was expected to come down to Thomas and Witt, who both skated their free program to Carmen, and it was billed as the “Battle of the Carmens.” Although she skated well in the compulsories, Thomas struggled in the free program and placed only third at the Olympics, with Witt winning her second gold medal. After another bronze medal at the 1988 World Championships, Thomas retired from amateur skating.

Unlike most skaters who pursue a professional career, Debi Thomas returned to school to become a doctor, skating only a bit professionally to pay for her studies. She graduated from Stanford in 1991, and from Northwestern Medical School in 1997, then did a residency in orthopaedic surgery in Los Angeles. She sub-specialized with a fellowship in adult reconstructive surgery, doing total joint replacement, and now practices in central Illinois.

Olympic Results

Athlete Olympic Results Content

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