Her father abandoned the family when she was two. As a child she wanted to be a ballet dancer, but was overweight. Her grandfather bought her a pair of skates when she was four to help her slim down and she began winning competitions when she was nine.
Her mother died of cancer in 1991. She was then fostered by her coach, Stanislav Koretek, but he emigrated to Canada soon afterwards and she was fostered by Galina Zmievskaya, a famous ice skating coach, and the mother-in-law of the skater Viktor Petrenko. She won the world championship in Prague in 1993 and the gold medal in the 1994 Lillehammer Winter Olympics.
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