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Figure Skating – 1977 – Len Berman Pays Tribute To USA Linda Fratianne Winning World Championships

Linda Fratianne is an American former figure skater….who was known for winning two World Championship titles in 1977 and 1979….four consecutive U.S. Championships from 1977 to 1980 ….and a silver medal in the 1980 Lake Placid Winter Olympics. Throughout her figure skating career, Fratianne was coached by Frank Carroll…..as she became the first female skater to land two different types of triple jumps with a “toe loop” and “salchow” in her free skating programs at the U.S. National Championships in 1976.  At the World Figure Skating Championship in Tokyo,  Japan in 1977….where she won her first world title by upsetting East Germany’s Anett Potzsch, the favorite going into the Championship…..even after she fell on her triple salchow jump in her free skating routine….as the judges considered she was better overall than Pötzsch.

In 1979, Fratianne was able to regain her world title….which she had lost to Pötzsch in 1978 in Ottawa, Canada…..with her chief rivals were Anett Pötzsch (East Germany), Emi Watanabe (Japan), and Dagmar Lurz (West Germany)…..when like Watanabe, her compulsory figures were significantly weaker than her free skating….thus consequently, she frequently placed well below Pötzsch and Lurz in the compulsories….which forced her to attempt to overcome her deficiencies through strong short and free programs.  In the short and free programs, Fratianne never placed lower than Pötzsch or Lurz between 1977 and 1980 in any competition. However, since the rules at the time placed much weight on compulsory figures, she was only able to win a major title twice.

At the 1980 Lake Placid Winter Olympics…..Linda Fratianne placed third in the compulsory figures….first in the short program….and second in the free skate to place second overall….while Pötzsch took the gold with 1st in figures, 4th in the short program and 3rd in the free skate. There have been persistent allegations that Fratianne was “robbed” of the gold medal by a conspiracy among Eastern-bloc judges, but in fact only two of the nine judges on the panel were from Eastern-bloc countries and only the judges from Japan and the USA placed Fratianne first. All others placed Pötzsch first, mainly due to her substantial lead in the compulsory figures.

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