• Debi Thomas is a retired professional figure skater and physician, best known for being a two-time US national champion and 1988 Olympic bronze medalist.
• Her net worth is estimated at $20,000, with her wealth being limited by divorces and work in poverty-stricken areas as a physician.
• She started learning figure skating at the age of 5 and entered her first competition at 9, eventually becoming the US National and World Champion in 1986.
• She later studied pre-med at Stanford University and graduated from the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in 1997.
• She is now engaged to Jamie Loonie and has two children with him, and previously had a son with her ex-husband Chris Bequette.

Known for movies

Short Info

Date Of BirthMarch 25, 1967
FactGraduated from Northwestern Medical School (1997)

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.

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.

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.

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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.

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.

Personal Life

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”.

General Info

Full NameDebi Thomas
Date Of BirthMarch 25, 1967
Height1.67 m
EducationNorthwestern University, Stanford University, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine


ChildrenLuc Bequette
ParentsMcKinley Thomas, Janice Thomas
SiblingsRichard Taylor

Social profile links


1Inducted into the San Jose [California] Sports Hall of Fame in 1998.
2Inducted into the U.S. Figure Skating Hall of Fame in 2000.
3Has one son.
4Was for many years an orthopedic surgeon in Little Rock, Arkansas. According to a February 2016 online article in The Washington Post, she had declared bankruptcy, let her medical license expire, and was living with her fiancé in a trailer in rural southern Virginia (see Miscellaneous links).
5Graduated from Northwestern Medical School (1997)
6Graduated from Stanford University with a degree in engineering
7On the cover of Time magazine (February 15, 1988)
8The first African-American to win a medal at the Winter Olympics (1988). The first black skater to win a U.S. Figure Skating and a World Figure Skating Championship (1986).



Nutcracker on Ice2009TV MovieSnow Queen


Good Morning America2015TV SeriesHerself - Guest
The Insider2015TV SeriesHerself
Bud Greenspan's Favorite Stories of Winter Olympic Glory2002TV Movie documentaryHerself
VH-1 Where Are They Now?1999TV Series documentaryHerself
American Gladiators1995TV SeriesContestant
The Official 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics Video1988Video documentaryHerself / American Figure Skater Bronze Medalist
The 8th Annual Black Achievement Awards1987TV SpecialHerself
Ebony/Jet Showcase1985TV SeriesHerself

Archive Footage

Inside Edition2015TV Series documentaryHerself
Entertainment Tonight2015TV SeriesHerself
Biography2004TV Series documentaryHerself
Life and Times2002TV Series documentaryHerself


Won Awards

1988Blimp AwardKids' Choice Awards, USAFavorite Female Athlete

Source: IMDb, Wikipedia


  1. Ana Marshall Reply

    After Ms. Thomas won her bronze medal at the Olympic games, I attended a workshop on leadership styles. The speaker, a white woman who certainly had no accomplishments to her name like those of Ms. Thomas, referred to Ms. Thomas attitude as one of a “loser.” As if someone who wins an Olympic bronze medal could ever be considered a loser, never mind the fact that she was also a student at one of the most prestigious and demanding universities in the country, and in one of its most difficult fields. By any measure, Debbie Thomas was the most accomplished young woman of any race of her generation. So, why did this idiot speaker refer to her as a loser? Not only that, but the speaker compared Ms. Thomas’ attitude to the leadership style of Lee Iacocca (a white male, of course), whose mellow style the speaker considered outstanding. I spoke up at the time and reminded her that Mr. Iacocca could afford to be mellow because as a white man his leadership was accepted readily, while in the case of Ms. Thomas, she would be considered a “loser” no matter what she managed to achieve in life, which was already plenty for several lifetimes. I have often thought about Debbie Thomas, and wondered to what extent that harsh reality shaped her mind. What would she need to do to be accepted and respected? Nothing would ever be enough. Who would not crack under that kind of treatment? I now hear about the notoriety of our newest gymnastic star, Ms. Biles, and I hope and pray that she is never subjected to those same attitudes. Mental illness may sometimes happen, anyway, but I do think that, sometimes, it is deliberately fostered by the challenges and rejection that racist assumptions heap on young athletes of color. I wish both of these wonderful women the best of luck in their lives.

  2. Mark Olsky Reply

    I had a personal experience with Debi Thomas after she completed her residency in orthopedics at Stanford and was a busy physician and before her life became extremely difficult. I had several patients with severe vertigo and was looking to use some of the desensitization techniques that have since come into practice. As a fellow Northwestern Medical School alumnus, I reached out to her to ask about her experience with athletes’ vertigo in certain sports. She was incredibly gracious and wrote me a long letter (snail mail) with great suggestions. Her letter was technically intelligent and thoughtful. If that isn’t an example of greatness, I don’t know what is.

  3. I always had a really soft spot in my heart for Debi. Man, if that one skate goes differently for her at the 1988 Olympics her whole life would have been dramatically different. I think a lot of Americans, including her coach put a lot of pressure on her. To me she just seemed like a really nice person who loved to skate. The business side of skating really took its toll I think. In the end we are all on our own specific spiritual journeys. In the end I think Debi, as well as the rest of us learn some really valuable life lessons, especially through hardship. Debi is just fine. We all are:).

  4. Kate McCarthy Reply

    Debbie seems like a kind soul but like so many famous people she got lost somehow. It’s hard to make a sweet article about the power of codependency. I pray that she gets help. Lots of us do and beautiful Debbie deserves the best life qs much as anyone out there. It’s very human stuff really but there is much more help today than ever before.

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