Named for the plantation in her mother's favorite movie, Gone With the Wind. Though she was born in Philadelphia, her family's residence was in Sewell, New Jersey until Tara was 9 (1991). Then her father's job relocated the family to Sugarland, Texas. This move was detrimental to Tara's skating career, as the area lacked the training facilities she needed to continue to progress. In 1993, Tara and her mother made the decision to split the family and return to Delaware,: More where Tara had previously commuted to take skating lessons while the Lipinskis were living in New Jersey. In 1995, Tara switched skating clubs again, and she and her mother moved to Michigan.
Tara's first encounter with roller-skating came in 1985, at age 3. She also took dance and participated in her roller skating club's roller hockey team as the only girl on the squad! Tara finished second at the 1990 Primary National Roller Skating Championships, and 1991 won both the Regional and National Championships. Her roller skating efforts earned her over 50 trophies, plaques, and medals until she quit to focus solely on figure skating. Tara began figure skating at age six. Her first competition was the 1990 regionals, and she finished second. In 1994, Tara competed in the Novice National Championships and finished second. At the Olympic Festival that year, Tara won the gold medal and became the youngest Olympic Festival champion in any sport, at 12 years and 3 weeks old. She also finished first at the Jr. Blue Swords Cup (Germany) and fourth at the Jr. World Championships (Hungary).