Katarina Witt (born , ) is a . In Germany she was commonly affectionately called "Kati" in the past, but today her full name is used more often.
She won two gold medals for , first in the 1984 and the second in 1988 at the . She won the in 1984, 1985, 1987, and 1988, and six consecutive (1983–1988). Her competitive record makes her one of the most successful figure skaters of all time.
Katarina Witt was born in in then , just outside of , which is today part of . She went to school in (which today has reverted to its pre-war name of ). There she attended a special school for sports-talented children, named . She represented the club SC Karl-Marx-Stadt for the GDR (East Germany). began coaching her in 1977.
In 1984, Katarina Witt was voted "GDR female athlete of the year" by the readers of the East German newspaper '. She narrowly won the 1984 Olympic title over the favored contender, reigning World champion of the United States. Witt and Sumners held the top two spots heading into the Olympic free skate, worth 50% of the total score. Witt landed three triple jumps in her free skate program (or long program), and the judges left room for Sumners to win the event, but Sumners scaled back two of her jumps, and Witt won the long program by one tenth of a point on one judge's scorecard.
In 1987, Witt recaptured the World Championship title, which she had lost the previous year to . Many consider her performance at this event to be the finest of her career. Witt only finished fifth in , which meant that Thomas could finish second in both the short and long programs and still retain the world title. However, a costly error by Thomas in the short program put the two skaters on a level playing field heading into the free skate. Witt skated the strongest long program of her career, landing 5 triple jumps, including a triple . Although Thomas also skated a strong long program, Witt was ranked first by the majority of the 9 judges and thus reclaimed the world title.
, Katarina Witt, Simone Lang and Constanze Gensel in (1984)]] Both Witt and Thomas were the favored contenders for the 1988 Olympic title. Their rivalry was known as the "", as each woman had independently elected to skate her long program to music from 's opera '. They held the top two spots after the and the short program. Witt skated her long program well, but not spectacularly, landing 4 triple jumps and downgrading her planned triple loop jump to a double loop. This left room for Thomas to win the long program, but Thomas skated poorly, missing 3 of her planned 5 triple jumps. Canadian skater actually won the long program, but Katarina Witt retained her Olympic title based on her overall scores (she had finished ahead of Elizabeth Manley in both the compulsory figures and the short program). Katarina Witt became only the second woman in figure skating history (after ) to defend her Olympic title.
In 1988, Witt started a professional career, which was very unusual for East German athletes. At first she spent three years on tour in the United States with , also a gold medalist in figure skating. Their show "Witt and Boitano Skating" was so successful that for the first time in ten years, New York's was sold out for an ice show. Later she continued at in the United States and in Western Europe.
Following the dissolution of East Germany, (Stasi) secret police files revealed that Witt had fully cooperated with the Stasi.
She also became an actress in the film Carmen on Ice (1989), which expanded upon her gold medal freestyle routine at Calgary. In 1990, she received an for her role in this film.
In 1994, she made a comeback to the competitive skating scene. She was again coached by and qualified for the in , where she finished 7th. Her appearance in the Olympics was more about celebrating the joy of freedom in than in hopes of winning a medal. Much-noted was her free program to the music “Sag mir wo die Blumen sind” (an arrangement of the folksong ""), considered remarkable for its artistic impression, including a peace message for the people of Sarajevo (the site of her first Olympic victory). She received the for her Olympic comeback. In the same year she published her autobiography Meine Jahre zwischen Pflicht und Kür (My Years between Compulsories and Freestyle).
In 1995, she was inducted into the . In 1996, she had a cameo role in the movie '.
In December 1998, Witt posed nude for . The issue in which these photos were published was the second sold-out issue of this magazine. (The first sold-out issue was the inaugural one including photos of .) Also in 1998, Witt appeared in the movie ' with a small supporting role and several lines of script. Around this time, she also played a villain in an episode of the tongue-in-cheek television series, '.
In 1999, she was voted "Favorite Female Athlete in the United States," as well as "Favorite Female Skater of the Century."
Witt has been known for her beauty and sex appeal as well as for her athleticism. ' called her “the most beautiful face of socialism.” At the peak of her career, she was thought by some to resemble , both of whom were in their late teens / early 20s at the time.
Witt's taste in figure skating costumes sometimes raised eyebrows. At the 1983 European championships she skated her Mozart short program in knee breeches instead of a skirt. Her blue skirtless feather-trimmed 1988 costume for a showgirl-themed short program was considered too theatrical and sexy, and led to a change in the ISU regulations which required female skaters to wear more modest clothing including skirts. In 1994, skating a -themed program, she again pushed the boundaries of the costume regulations by wearing not a skirt but a short tunic over leggings.
In November 2005, she published a , Only with Passion, in which she offers advice to a fictional young skater based on her many years of skating. Since October 2006, she has her own TV-show at the German TV-station Stars auf Eis (Stars on Ice).
On , Witt presented at the of in .
Witt was invited to as an honored guest for a popular skating competition TV show called Buzda Dans (Dance on Ice). The competition took place on February 25, 2007.
Her farewell tour took place in February and March 2008.
Competitive highlights Edit
- Official Web Site
- Sports Illustrated Dec 2001 Interview
- olympic.org Athlete Profile - Witt
- Katarina Witt international Playboy front page covers
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