Distinguished Women of Past and Present


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Katarina Witt

From: Germany
Fields: Sports
Key Words/Phrases: figure skating, figure skater
Witt, Katarina (1965- ), German figure skater, winner of two Olympic gold medals, born in Chemnitz. Witt began skating at the age of five and her inherent ability was evident immediately. She was quickly recruited for the skating program of the Chemnitz sports club and school, one of the four most prestigious government-supported sports institutes in East Germany (now part of the united Federal Republic of Germany). By the age of nine, Witt's gifts were acknowledged by Jutta Müller, East Germany's premier skating coach. Under Müller's coaching, Witt's talents expanded, and at age 11 she landed her first triple jump. At age 14 she finished tenth in the 1980 world championships and, after winning two European titles, she burst into international stardom by taking the gold medal at the 1984 Winter Olympic Games in Sarajevo, Yugoslavia (now in Bosnia and Herzegovina). Witt dominated the figure skating world for the next several years, winning the world titles in 1984, 1985, 1987, and 1988. At the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary, Alberta, she became the first figure skater since Sonja Henie (in 1932) to win a second Olympic gold medal. She turned professional in the summer of 1988 and could not participate in the 1992 Winter Olympics; Witt maintained her place in the public eye as a CBS television commentator for the figure skating competition. After professional skaters were admitted into Olympic competition, she returned to skate in the 1994 Olympic Games at Lillehammer, Norway. Although Witt placed seventh, she was a sentimental favorite of the crowd. Witt's skating was admired for its athletic prowess, but her greatest strength was her free skating. She had a charismatic appeal to crowd and judges alike, and her grace, elegance, and flirtatious manner won her international acclaim.

"Witt, Katarina" Microsoft® Encarta.
Copyright© 1995 Microsoft Corporation.


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