Hughes is the only American to win Olympic gold in figure skating without a previous World or U.S. senior national title. Her most notable finish prior to her win at the 2002 Games was a bronze in the 2001 World Championships.
Hughes’ path to gold in Salt Lake City began with a fourth place finish in the short program. In the next event, the free skate, the athletes ahead of Hughes each made mistakes in their performances. Hughes, though, landed seven triple jumps to win the event. After the scores from the two events were tallied, Hughes had won gold overall.
Olympians seem to run in Hughes’ family. One of her younger sisters, Emily, competed in figure skating at the 2006 Winter Olympics.