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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Russian Meal Fueled Baiul's Gold Medal

When it comes to figure skating, Oksana Baiul, 18, listens to her coach.


When it comes to cooking, Baiul, originally from Ukraine, listens to her grandmother -- and she says Russian food is the secret to her success.


"At home in Connecticut, I spend all my time with my friends and I make only Russian food, but borshch -- you have to have a talent to make that," she said. "My grandmother said to me, 'You can skate. Don't try to make borshch because you're supposed to make only what you can make best. Just skate.'"


Baiul builds up a big appetite on the rink and to keep herself going, she drinks lots of juice and water, and mixes Russian and American meals. For breakfast, she usually eats a bagel with cream cheese and smoked salmon, although she sometimes just has tea. For lunch she eats soup, and for dinner she likes Russian food such as chicken with rice.


Baiul says Russian food helped her at the Olympics. Before she was scheduled to compete in Atlanta, she was so nervous it upset her appetite.


"I couldn't eat for three days and then right before it was my turn, like a couple hours before, I went into a Russian place at the Olympic village," she said. " I took meat, chicken, salmon, everything. I ate and then I felt so good."


A couple of hours later, she won the gold.


"I eat what I want," she said. "That's the truth. People might say something's wrong with me. They might say I should have a set diet. But why? I feel great. If I need to eat, I do."