Katarina Witt won two Olympic gold medals for East Germany (DDR)….and is a four-time World Champion in 1984, 1985, 1987 and 1988…..and a two-time World silver medalist in 1982 and 1986 …..as Witt made her first appearance in a major international competition at the 1979 European Championships….while finishing 14th at the event. At the 1981 World Championships, she placed 1st in the short, 3rd in the long, and 2nd in the combined free skate…..while missing a medal due to low placement in figures…..when she placed on a major podium for the first time in 1982 by winning silver at both the European and World Championships. She had a great shot at winning the 1982 World Championships…..when she only needed to win the long program to do ….but she stepped out of three jumps, including the legendary triple flip….which complex element she was the very first woman to accomplish…..plus, she stepped out on a relatively easy double axel…. which cost her the long program win…..along with the overall gold medal to Elaine Zayak, who landed six triples. The next season, she won her first European title but finished off the World podium in fourth place…..because she was 8th in compulsory figures despite winning the combined free skating. Had she placed 1st in the long program instead of 2nd (on a 5-4 split) to USA Rosalynn Sumners…..as she would have jumped to the silver over both WGER Claudia Leistner and USSR Vodorezova. Her free skate with a triple flip and five triples was technically superior to Sumners’, and many believed she should have taken the crucial 1st place in this phase.
In 1987, Witt won her third World title…..even though Witt finished fifth in compulsory figures…. which meant that USA Debi Thomas could finish second in both the short and long programs and still retain the World title….but Thomas’ 7th place in the short program…..which was due to a small hand down on her double axel…..and that put the two skaters on a level playing field ahead of the free skate. In fact, five skaters entered the long program in strong contention for the gold including USSR Kira Ivanova, Witt, Thomas, CAN Elizabeth Manley and USA Caryn Kadavy…..all of whom were needing to only win the long program. Skating last and under immense pressure with both Kadavy and Thomas having earlier turned in brilliant performances…..Witt landed five triple jumps, including a clean triple loop jump which was most crucial of all to win. Earlier, Thomas had two footed her triple-loop attempt….and while Kadavy had done two successful triple loops….when she had also popped several triple or double-axel attempts. Even on a night of brilliant skating by a majority of the notable competitors, Witt convincingly was both the best technical and artistic marks of the night….while being ranked first by seven of the nine judges…. as she reclaimed her World title to an appreciative crowd.