Janine "Debi" Thomas (born March 25, 1967),was an American figure
skater, now turned physician. She is the 1986 World champion and 1988
Olympic bronze medalist, having taken part in the Battle of the Carmens
at those games.
Thomas was born in Poughkeepsie, New York.
1988, Thomas married Brian Vanden Hogen, a fellow college student. They
later divorced and in 1996 she married Chris Bequette. She has a son,
Christopher Jules ("Luc"), born in 1997.
represented the Los Angeles Figure Skating Club from 1983 on, which
launched her career. She was coached by Alex McGowan from age 10 until
she retired from amateur competition at age 21.
won both the 1986 U.S. National ladies' figure skating title and the
Ladies' title at the 1986 World Figure Skating Championships; those
achievements earned Thomas the ABC's Wide World of Sports Athlete of
the Year award that year. She was the first female athlete to win those
titles while attending college full time since Tenley Albright in the
1987, Thomas was injured with Achilles tendinitis in both ankles and
struggled at the U.S. Nationals, placing second to Jill Trenary, but
rebounded at the World Championships, finishing a close second to East
German skater Katarina Witt. Thomas was a pre-med student at Stanford
University during this time, and she became the only African American
to hold U.S. National titles in ladies' singles figure skating.
January 1988, Thomas reclaimed the U.S. National title. At the 1988
Winter Olympics held in Calgary, she and Katarina Witt engaged in a
rivalry that the media dubbed the "Battle of the Carmens", as both
women skated their long programs to the music of Bizet's opera Carmen.
Thomas skated strong compulsory figures and performed well in the short
program to an instrumental version of "Something in My House" by Dead
or Alive, but performed poorly in the long program, but well enough to
finish third, and win the bronze medal, behind Witt and Canadian skater
Elizabeth Manley. Thomas won the bronze medal at the 1988 World Figure
Skating Championships and then retired from amateur skating.
was inducted into the U.S. Figure Skating Hall of Fame in 2000. She was
also selected by President George W. Bush to be part of the U.S.
Delegation for the Opening Ceremonies of the 2006 Winter Olympics in
Turin Italy along with other former Olympians: Dorothy Hamill, Eric
Heiden, Kerri Strug, and Herschel Walker .