Professional skater and Olympic gold medalist Oksana Baiul said she's getting used to being a role model at the tender age of 18.

"I love it when children come up to me," said Baiul during a telephone conference from her new home in Simsbury, Conn. "I go out shopping and love to sign autographs. I don't worry about the spotlight that's supposedly on me all the time."Those who can't make it to the Peggy Flemming "Nutcracker On Ice" performance at the Delta Center on Friday, Dec. 8, can find the magic on the small screen via the "Nutcracker on Ice" video with Baiul and Viktor Petrenko, which is available at all video outlets.

The video is taken from the tour Baiul and Petrenko - who portrayed Clara and Dr. Drosselmeyer - did last year.

"When I was 5, I went to the `The Nutcracker' ballet for the first time," said Baiul. "I love the story a lot and think it makes a good story for ice. And doing this is nothing compared to competition skating.

"At first I wanted to be a dancer, but my grandfather gave me my first pair of skates and I've been skating ever since," said Baiul, who recently moved to the United States from the Ukraine after the 1994 Winter Olympics.

She lives on a ranch with her trainer Galina Zmievskaya and mentor Petrenko. The ranch is equipped with two ice rinks - Olympic and child-size.

Baiul, like other children in the Ukraine, finished school at 16. But she wants to continue on to college - if she ever gets the time.

"It would be nice, but my new professional schedule is taking a lot of time," she said. "Right now, I like to see people smile. And the `Nutcracker' makes me smile."