After winning a fourth gold medal four years later at the Montreal Games, Korbut retired and returned to Belarus, where she married and had a son, Richard, now 22. In 1991 she left her homeland, devastated by the Chernobyl disaster, came to the U.S. and took up coaching. Her initial style-strict, distant, demanding—reflected the approach of her Soviet coaches, but it hardly inspired American kids who enjoyed a variety of other interests and could quit on her at any time. Since settling at the World Class Martial Arts/Gymnastics Academy in Atlanta 18 months ago, Korbut, 46, believes she has hit upon the right mixture of discipline and encouragement. She now sees real Olympic potential in a few of the 30 gymnasts she works with. "I'm like mother, like big sister and sometimes tough coach," she says. "They trust me; they like me."
On Oct. 15, 1996, Gabriela Sabatini lost a first-round match to 20-year-old Jennifer Capriati at the European Indoors in Zurich. Nine days later the Argentine glamour girl said goodbye to tennis. There was no yearlong farewell four and no second-guessing her decision. "I'd had enough," says Sabatini, 31, who won the 1990 U.S. Open and 26 other singles titles during a 13-year pro career that began when she was 14. "When I finish something, I leave it behind and I don't need to do it anymore."
In fact, years before she retired Sabatini had already begun sniffing around for an off-court career. In 1987 a German perfume manufacturer named 4711 (now Cosmopolitan Cosmetics) approached her about creating her own line of scents. That the company was from the same country as her chief rival, Steffi Graf, was not lost on Sabatini. "I was surprised and proud," she says. The first Gabriela Sabatini perfume hit stores in 1989, and today the line consists of nine fragrances (including one for men) sold in more than 30 countries. Sabatini is an active participant in developing the scent for each line. "I tell them what I'm feeling," she says, "how I want it to be. Maybe more romantic, maybe a little more seductive." She is also active in the design of her line of clothing and watches.
At the same time Sabatini is exploring a more private pursuit through her passion for singing. She sings at home, in the car and is even known to belt out a tune or two for her friends at parties. She's having a recording studio built in her new apartment in her native Buenos Aires. So are we soon to see Gabriela the pop star? "I would have to work, exercise, train for it and be dedicated to it," says Sabatini, who has been taking singing lessons for the past couple of years. "I don't know if I want to get involved again with something like that."
She has also fielded numerous proposals for acting roles—mostly cameos in Latin American soap operas—but has turned them down. "It is something you have to feel inside, and I don't," she says. For now, perfume is her profession—and she hopes it will sweeten her personal life. "I'm looking for that man," jokes Sabatini. "I'm waiting to see if my perfume can do something."
Her famous lip balm commercial first aired more than 20years ago, but Suzy Chaffee's alter ego endures like an Energizer snow bunny. The ebullient blue-eyed blonde from Rutland, Vt., burst onto the sporting scene at the Grenoble Olympics in 1968, where, as a favorite for a medal in the downhill, she used the wrong wax on her skis and finished 28th. Nevertheless, her specially designed skintight silver ski suit kept her from becoming a historical footnote. "I still got the second-most publicity, after Peggy Fleming," says Chaffee, now 54. "Fashion saved my butt!"
Following the Games, Chaffee stayed in the limelight by becoming a freestyle ski champion, modeling and devoting herself to promoting awareness of Title IX and amateur athletes' rights. She made the memorable Chap Stick commercial in 1978, and "Suzy Chapstick" instantly became part of her identity, launching her as a worldwide celebrity who pulled in roughly $100,000 a year in endorsement income from companies such as Colgate and Dannon. She skied with such notables as President Ford and the Empress of Iran and was linked romantically with Bill Bradley, Ted Kennedy and Grace Kelly's brother Jack (though she has never married).
The Chap Stick campaign aired until 1980. By the early 1990s Chaffee had stopped pursuing endorsements, and by 1995 she was nearly broke, had no health insurance and was getting many of her clothes from the "free box" in Telluride, Colo., where she had moved that year. During that time she taught a Lakota Indian named Rollingbears to ski. They fell in love, and he provided the inspiration for her latest project.