It’s been thirty years since Katarina Witt, the East German ice princess, won gold in Sarajevo . It seems only appropriate that we kick off the Sochi Olympics by honoring her with her induction into the Oglympics Hall of Fame.
Katarina is a 49 year old former East German figure skater that took the world by storm in the 80s. She was born in 1965 and came to the attention of the famed East German sporting machine about the time she turned seven. Her dossier with the German Secret police begins with an entry when she turned eight and eventually consumed 27 boxes holding over 3000 documents. The extent to which they spied on her was only revealed once the Berlin Wall fell. In published response to a query about one item that appeared in the file about a supposed romantic rendezvous with an American in a hotel room which noted “Sexual intercourse took place from 20.00 to 20.07”, Katarina notoriously responded “Seven minutes! It can’t have amounted to much”, before denying that anything sexual had happened.
The western image of East German women was forever shattered once Katarina stepped onto the ice. She certainly didn’t fit the babuska wearing mental picture that many had of the women in Soviet bloc countries. This was one strikingly beautiful athlete.
Many of today’s generation probably remember little of the Cold War dramatically symbolized by The Berlin Wall. In this video, Katarina takes us back to those days (from the ESPN “Nine for IX” documentary “The Diplomat”).
She is a four-time World champion (1984, 1985, 1987, 1988) and twice World silver medalist (1982, 1986). Along with Sonja Henie, Witt is the only ladies’ single skater to win six consecutive European Championships (1983–1988). Her competitive record makes her one of the most successful figure skaters of all time.
Katarina was a two-time Olympic champions winning gold in Sarajevo in 1984, then repeating in Calgary in 1988. She turned pro following her 1988 victory, a rarity for a communist bloc athlete, making her ineligible for Olympic competition under the rules at the time. After relaxation of the professionalism rules, Katarina came out of retirement to compete in the 1994 Olympics where she finished seventh.
Here’s she is in Sarajevo.
and repeating in Calgary.
When it came time to decide what photos to choose, I had my choice of thousands. I could have put up over 50 magazine covers alone. What I tried to compile here was a broad selection through the years, capturing both her gorgeous face and spectacular body.
First, her teenage years –
Next, as a mature woman
and, finally, her legendary Playboy spread, which was only the second issue in Playboy history to sell out.
Truly, she is Oglympic Hall of Fame worthy.