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DANA'S figure skating website

Debra Janine Thomas

Debra 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.

In 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.

Skating career

She 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.

Thomas 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 1950s.

In 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.

In 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.

Thomas 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 .