Who is Debi Thomas?
Debi Thomas was born on 25 March 1967, in Poughkeepsie, New York State USA, and was a professional figure skater before becoming a physician. She is best known from being a two time US national champion, and the 1988 Olympic bronze medalist in figure skating.
Hanging at the pool solving the world's problems with the real life Rudy Ruettiger, whose story was the inspiration for…
The Wealth of Debi Thomas
How rich is Debi Thomas? As of mid-2018, sources inform us of a net worth that is at $20,000, earned mostly through success in professional figure skating, and from her work as a physician, however, divorces and working in relatively poverty-stricken areas as a physician have limited the size of her bank account. Still, as she continues her endeavors, it is expected that her wealth will increase somewhat.
— Debi Thomas (@Orthodeb) October 10, 2015
Early Life and Skating Beginnings
Though Debi was born in New York, her family moved to San Jose, California where she grew-up. However, her parents divorced when she was young and she mainly stayed with her mother who worked as a computer programming analyst in nearby Sunnyvale. At the age of 5, she started to learn skating, and entered her first figure skating competition four years later, actually winning, and so deciding to pursue competitive skating. Her mother was very supportive of her skating career, and drove over 100 miles a day to help her go to school and to skating practice. A year later she was introduced to skating coach Alex McGowan, leading her to represent the Los Angeles Figure Skating Club in 1983. She would participate in numerous amateur competitions until the age of 21.
Rise in Professional Figure Skating
In 1986, Thomas won the US National and World Championships, culminating in her being awarded Athlete of the Year from Wide World of Sports, the first female athlete to win while still attending college full-time, since Tenley Albright during the 1950s. She was also the first African-American to hold the US National title in ladies’ single figure skating. During this time, she was studying a pre-med course at Stanford University, and it was considered unusual for a competitive figure skater to attend college at the same time because of the combined work load. Later in the year, she was given the National Coalition of 100 Black Women Candace Award for Trailblazing. The following year her advancement in the sport was hampered, as she battled with Achilles tendinitis in both ankles, leading her to struggle at the US Nationals.
She would bounce back at the World Championships, and finished in second place behind Katarina Witt. She then moved to Boulder, Colorado to help her prepare for the Olympics, leading her to win the US National title the following year. During the 1988 Winter Olympics, she once again fought with Katarina Witt in what was dubbed as the “Battle of the Carmens” in which both skaters had the same music – “Carmen” from the Georges Bizet opera. However, during the competition, some mistakes saw her finish with the bronze medal.
A close up of my four biggest skating accomplishments… Olympic Bronze, Two U.S. National Championship Golds, and a…
Achievements and Medical Career
Debi became the first black athlete to win any medal at the Winter Olympics, and she then won the World Professional Championships, and again two years after that. She became the only woman to reach the top 22 of the Q score athlete standings, and was later inducted into the US Figure Skating Hall of Fame. She was one of the first female skaters to ever complete a triple toe-triple toe combination during the 1980s.
In 1989, Thomas continued her medical studies and completed an engineering degree from Stanford two years later, then graduated from the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine six years later. Afterwards, she took up a surgical residency at the University of Arkansas Medical Sciences Hospital, leading to an orthopedic surgery residency in South Central Los Angeles, becoming a specialist in hip and knee replacement as an orthopedic surgeon. However, due to difficulty working with other doctors, she never stayed longer than a year in a clinic. This led her to establish her own private practice in Richlands, Virginia which later closed due to her lack of business experience, especially in a relatively impoverished area.
For her personal life, it is known that Thomas married Brian Vander Hogen in 1988 but their marriage ended in divorce. She later married Chris Bequette, a sports attorney in 1996, and they had a son before divorcing. She is now engaged to Jamie Loonie and they have two children together, residing in southwest Virginia. In 2015, it was reported that she had gone broke due to two divorces and a failed medical practice. She also lost custody of her son due to poor living conditions. She later appeared in an episode of “Iyania: Fix My Life”.