To some, Tim Goebel is just the guy in Linear Algebra with a blue mohawk. But to those who know him well, he is the “Quad King,” a former Olympic figure skater living a double life as a General Studies student at Columbia.
Josie Bailey, SEAS ’11, who first met Goebel in a math class, said it wasn’t until much later that she found out he was a top-tier figure skater who won a bronze medal at the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics.
Far from minding not being recognized as the first figure skater ever to land a quadruple salchow, Goebel said he has appreciated the anonymity of being a student at Columbia. “It’s really nice to be a quote-unquote normal person,” he said. “It’s been nice to not be in the public eye and concentrate on my studies and sort of have my privacy back.”
In fact, as a math major, Goebel is now pursuing a career in finance—he’s preparing to work for Nielsen, a large marketing and media information company, doing financial analysis in the customs division.
Skating, though, remains a big part of his life. Aside from teaching and coaching figure skating on the weekends in Westchester County, N.Y., and staying involved with the United States Figure Skating Association, Goebel has dedicated much time and energy to Figure Skating in Harlem, an organization that provides skating opportunities for six- to 18-year-old girls.
“It’s very much using sports to help these kids excel in academics,” Goebel said of the organization’s mission. “We teach them how to skate, but it’s very academically driven. You have to maintain a high GPA to get into the program, and in addition to skating, they have enrichment classes, they have a public speaking class, they have tutoring available.” He has worked with the organization for all four of the years he has been at Columbia, and took part in their annual Central Park fundraiser for four or five years while he was still competing.
Although balancing his volunteering, coaching, and USFSA responsibilities with his schoolwork has been a challenge, Goebel called it a useful struggle. “That’s life, juggling a lot of different projects at the same time,” he said.
After graduating, Goebel said he wants to maintain ties to Columbia, perhaps by fundraising for GS. “Through Columbia, I’ve had so many good opportunities,” he said, “and I really want to help in whatever way I can in the future to continue to be able to provide that for the next generations coming in.”
Some classmates said Goebel has already given back a lot.
Bailey wrote in an email, “Without Tim, many of my math courses would have been a lot less fun!”