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Nothing Like Russian Home Cooking


When it comes to figure skating, Oksana Baiul, 18, listens to her coach. (Well, most of the time. There's a secret even her coach doesn't know about how she won the 1994 Olympic gold medal. More on that later.)

When it comes to cooking, Baiul, who's from Ukraine, listens to her grandmother. "At home in Connecticut, all the time with my friends I'm making only Russian food but borscht--you have to have a talent to make that. My grandmother said to me, 'You know, you can skate. Don't try to make borscht because you're supposed to make only what you can make the best. Just skate.' "

The Workout

* At the rink: Four days a week, Baiul, who is touring, does 20 minutes of warmups and stretching before practice and then does her jump, step and spin routines for 1 1/2 hours in the morning and two more hours in the afternoon.

* At the gym: She works on the Health Rider for 20 minutes. "Very different because in Russia we don't have all those machines."

Then she jumps while holding 5-pound weights. "Then when I jump without them it's just like twice as high."

She also takes ballet and modern dance classes.

The Diet

* Liquids: Lots of juices. As for water: "You know, it's funny for me--on my days off I'm drinking lots of water but not before the practice or before the show. Water runs to my muscles very fast, and I've heard my heart beating and then during the show I couldn't jump. Something wrong with my muscles, not fast enough, not strong enough to turn myself very high. The next day I didn't drink lots of water and the skating, it's perfect."

* Breakfast: Sometimes a bagel with cream cheese and salmon. Sometimes just coffee, tea or milk. "When I want I'm eating. When I don't want I'm not eating. That's the truth. Now people will start saying something wrong with her. So many people they're saying to me, 'You should have a diet.' And I say why if I'm feeling great. If I need to eat I will do that."

* Lunch: "I really love to have soup. You know, I'm too lazy. I don't [know] what it's called, but you open the plastic can and you're pouring water."

* Dinner: Russian food. "Special dishes like Russian chicken and rice, it's so good. I'm taking the chicken and putting flour and I'm putting egg and I'm putting oil and then just heating. Dessert? I don't really like sweets, but here in America I love cheesecake.

The Secret

* "I tell you this story. And nobody knows about this. When my coach reads she'll kill me. At the Olympic Games I swear to God I was so nervous for three days I couldn't eat. You know when you're so nervous?"

Of course we do. Go on.

"And so I couldn't eat for three days and then right before my number, like a couple hours before, I went into a Russian place at the Olympic village. I take meat, chicken, salmon, everything. I ate. OK. Then I feel so good, you know?"

We'll say. A couple of hours later, she won the gold.


Update: Last week we told you how actress Renee Taylor ("The Nanny") was working out and dieting to slip into an Oscar de la Renta gown for Sunday's "Prime Time Emmy Awards."

Not only did Taylor fit into that sexy size 10 (down from a size 14), but she gave it a workout after the show. Taylor and her husband, actor Joe Bologna, stopped by the Governors Ball, where Taylor nibbled on a salmon appetizer and suggested a recount (Julia Louis-Dreyfus won the Emmy for best supporting actress in a comedy series, "Seinfeld").

Then the couple whirled off to the post-Emmy "Entertainment Tonight" party at Twin Palms in Pasadena where, after one glass of champagne, they did some serious swing dancing.

As for the glass slippers that Taylor had hoped to wear to the show, instead she wound up in a pair of black satin pumps, and they pinched.

Still, her prince found her.

* Guest Workout runs Wednesdays in Life & Style.

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