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When the sprightly youngster with the blonde hair and brilliant smile stepped onto the ice at the White Ring in Nagano, she knew it would take a flawless program to win Olympic gold.

Tara Lipinski delivered.

She laid down seven triple jumps in a jaw-dropping performance, each accompanied by an audible gasp from the crowd. And her trademark triple loop-triple loop combination, along with a closing combination featuring two more triples, was enough to push her pass fellow American Michelle Kwan and to the top step of the podium at the 1998 Winter Games.

It was a free skate that would hold up remarkably well today — unlike the gold medal-winning men’s performance.

While the women’s event has stagnated over the past two decades, the heights at which they fly having seemingly reached a ceiling, the men have continued to push skyward. Ilia Kulik won gold at the Nagano Games largely on the strength of his quadruple toe loop, but some experts think it will take a program packed with five or six quads to win gold at the upcoming Pyeongchang Olympics.

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