"The Diplomat" on ESPN

Discussion in 'Great Skate Debate' started by Willowway, Aug 6, 2013.

  1. Willowway

    Willowway Well-Known Member

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    Excellent article, well written. I look forward to seeing this documentary on Katarina Witt. Sounds like it was done with an understanding of the times, the politics of the Cold War and the youth of the athletes. Very interesting stuff in that there are no simple answers but there is, at this distance, an understanding of the relationship between the GDR and their athletes. http://www.thedailybeast.com/witw/a...-beautiful-face-of-east-german-socialism.html
     
  2. Wyliefan

    Wyliefan Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for that. The documentary sounds like it'll be worth watching!
     
  3. Sylvia

    Sylvia On to GP & U.S. Sectionals!

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    Article from the April premiere in NYC: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/more/news/20130426/katarina-witt-the-diplomat/

    TV Alerts forum thread: Aug. 6 on ESPN: Katarina Witt documentary, "The Diplomat"

    Re-posting from the other GSD thread:
    Thanks for posting that very interesting article, Willoway!
     
    Last edited: Aug 6, 2013
  4. Sylvia

    Sylvia On to GP & U.S. Sectionals!

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    THE DIPLOMAT: DIRECTOR'S MOMENT
    http://espn.go.com/espnw/w-in-actio...540060/espnw-key-moment-nine-ix-film-diplomat

    ETA another article: http://web.icenetwork.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20130806&content_id=56046578&vkey=ice_news
    Excerpt:
     
    Last edited: Aug 6, 2013
  5. Wyliefan

    Wyliefan Well-Known Member

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    Little Katarina was so cute!
     
  6. Sylvia

    Sylvia On to GP & U.S. Sectionals!

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    Lots of footage from the Chemnitz rink and Ingo Steuer being interviewed (even a glimpse of Savchenko/Szolkowy practicing).
     
  7. caseyedwards

    caseyedwards Well-Known Member

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    Some good stuff! They really didn't get into the details of how she won but reflected her role as a face of east Germany. Makes sense as it was called The Ambassador. Bu they crying over Gaby Seferts being forced to leave skating because of no pro opportunities and the huge backlash athletes got in east Germany after their bonuses were revealed in detail were interesting. Witt was so defiant! She won Gold! she "did her job for East Germany!" and then Talking about Ingo Steuer spying on her and her having no hard feeling was a highlight. I thought they would mention doping but they didn't maybe because it didn't effect Witt or part of Criminal trials with participants like krenz.
     
  8. Carolla5501

    Carolla5501 Well-Known Member

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    It was not what I expected, but I thought it was very goof. And it really made me think about that entire era.

    Glad I watched it
     
  9. Wyliefan

    Wyliefan Well-Known Member

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    Yes, it was very well done.
     
  10. Debbie S

    Debbie S Well-Known Member

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    Darn, I missed this due to skating (a certain irony in that, lol). I hope they rerun it so I can watch it or at least remember to set the DVR. Sounds like a great documentary.
     
  11. Sylvia

    Sylvia On to GP & U.S. Sectionals!

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    @espnw tweeted: "If you missed the premiere of #TheDiplomat, fear not! It re-airs tonight at 1 a.m. ET on ESPN2. #NineForIX"
     
  12. Debbie S

    Debbie S Well-Known Member

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    Thanks, Sylvia! Glad I saw this before going to bed. DVR is set. :)
     
  13. N_Halifax

    N_Halifax Active Member

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    If anyone finds this uploaded online, please let me know! Dying to see it & don't have the ESPN. :(
     
  14. Sylvia

    Sylvia On to GP & U.S. Sectionals!

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  15. Frau Muller

    Frau Muller President of Dick Button Appreciation Club

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    Wonderful documentary. Great to see that Frau Muller (the real one...ha-ha) is still around, coaching young ones & looking so well. Very funny moment when one of her young skaters said that The Frau has softened with age. Also, I found very interesting the comments by & about Ingo; I'm sure that many persons were forced to spy on colleagues & neighbors. Such was the awful system back then.

    One small quibble: Annett Poetzsch was not mentioned or shown. She too was a World and Oly (1980) champion trained by Frau Muller who, like Seyfert, simply retired without a pro career. It was likely an oversight due to space & time limitations. Also, Annett had a bit of a pro career, appearing in 'Carmen on Ice' in a bit role and even skating in some of the Gold Medalist tribute specials in the mid-90s. Still, it was a bit odd that she wasn't even mentioned. Ditto Jan Hoffman, although the focus was on Ladies.
     
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2013
  16. leafygreens

    leafygreens Well-Known Member

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    As someone very interested in politics, I found this documentary to be fascinating. Their government was so strict about pro athletes that they told her she could only go on a tour if she won a 2nd gold medal, as if it was no big deal. Amazing to them that one gold medal was not enough, and a silver would have been a complete failure. It was also lucky for Kati that the wall fell shortly after she was allowed to reap the rewards of her winnings. I understand the people's anger at gifts given to athletes when the people lived in poverty, although it wasn't the athlete's fault as they really had no freedom either.
     
  17. Sylvia

    Sylvia On to GP & U.S. Sectionals!

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    Witt answered questions in an online chat on Tuesday before "The Diplomat" aired: http://espn.go.com/sportsnation/chat/_/id/48629

    Fan reaction to "The Diplomat": http://espn.go.com/espnw/w-in-actio...espnw-reaction-premiere-nine-ix-film-diplomat

    In “W Wants to Know,” espnW poses five questions to some of our favorite athletes. Today, two-time Olympic figure skating gold medalist Katarina Witt checks in: http://espn.go.com/espnw/athletes-life/blog/post/6504/katarina-witt

    Re-posting from the related thread in TV Alerts forum:
     
  18. snoopysnake

    snoopysnake Well-Known Member

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    Another thing not mentioned (it was likely discussed during the interviews but edited out for time considerations) was that Brian Boitano offered Katarina to come stay with him in the US if she felt unsafe when the athletes were experiencing such hostility in East Germany. She did not take him up on that offer but appreciated it very much.
     
  19. skatesindreams

    skatesindreams Well-Known Member

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    That was a great thing for him to do.
    I'm glad that they have always been such good friends.
     
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  20. Debbie S

    Debbie S Well-Known Member

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    Argghhh! My DVR didn't record the re-airing! I must have missed a step somewhere. Searching through TV listings, I found 2 more airings:

    Sunday, 8/11, 4-5 am ET, ESPN2
    Monday, 8/12, 2:30-3:30 am ET, ESPN Classic

    OK, so I have 2 more chances to get it right. It can also be watched on iTunes for $5.
     
  21. leapfrogonice

    leapfrogonice Active Member

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  22. Bronxfan

    Bronxfan Active Member

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    Interesting tidbit - you probably already know this - Poetzsch and Witt are ex-sisters in law. Annett used to be married to Katarina's brother, Axel. They had a daughter, Claudia. Claudia goes by her stepfather's last name - Rauschenbach. In the small world of German figure skating, Claudia Rauschenbach used to skate pairs with Robin Szolkowy.

    When Annett Poetzsch divorced Axel Witt, she married Axel Rauschenbach, who used to skate pairs with Mandy Woetzel.

    See - it all goes back to Ingo!,
     
  23. Cherub721

    Cherub721 YEAH!

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    Just watched it. What they did cover was well done, but I was kind of disappointed. With the title 9 for IX series my understanding was this was about female athletes. They portrayed figure skating as a beauty pageant, just a background for the political machinations of the time.

    Take that deal with the East German regime. They told her if she won the second gold, she could turn pro, and she did. Ok, but how? They make it seem like some fairy tale wrapped up in a bow. They just rattled off her titles with no explanation of how she got them. I did f-love her attempting a triple axel and being hoisted by Tassilo Thierbach (I assume there weren’t any other Tassilos at the rink!). I never realized she tried it. What about her landing the triple flip (first woman to do it)? They noted that she was the first woman in 52 years to repeat, but how did she do it? How did she keep up that momentum to win nearly every major competition for four years? They didn’t even mention Worlds in Cincinatti! Once she was given that edict to win the second gold, how did she and Frau Mueller strategize about her jumps and elements? How did she feel when she doubled that loop? In an ESPN documentary, that is what I expected to learn about, not her press conferences and magazine covers.

    She mentioned that she enjoyed being creative on the ice. How about discussing how the Mozart program where she dressed like a man was received? Since they wanted a political angle, I would’ve like to know whether her program selections had to be run by East German officials. What was the reception of the Vegas showgirl costume and were there any objections to her using Western music? Witt was one of the most creative skaters of her time, so was that all her, or was it some external force? Was her sexuality on the ice considered taboo, or was it embraced because she was the beautiful face of socialism, making it palatable to the west?

    The ESPNW article Sylvia posted above was a lot more interesting than the movie itself. I love the story of her throwing in an extra triple and Fassi declaring it the best he’s ever seen a woman skate. And what about her famous intimidation tactics? She has a great blog on her official site where she talks about a lot of this stuff. I feel that Witt is very underrated, especially for her athleticism, even on figure skating sites, and this documentary doesn't really help.
     
  24. viennese

    viennese Well-Known Member

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    I wish the doc had been longer.

    Fascinating to hear from Ingo Steuer himself, speaking on his sad experience with the Stasi, and how it forced him into betraying friendships.
     
  25. skatesindreams

    skatesindreams Well-Known Member

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    I wonder how much footage/material they didn't use.
    As good as this was, there's more to the story.

    The "political machinations" make the film more interesting to the "general" audience; those with no interest in skating.
    That's the audience the film was intended for, IMO.
     
  26. leafygreens

    leafygreens Well-Known Member

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    That would be like a 4 hour documentary! They only had 1 hour.
     
  27. Cherub721

    Cherub721 YEAH!

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    Ok, but it would have been nice for a 1 hour documentary about female athletes on a sports channel to at least once mention some aspect of the athletic part of the sport in which she competes. It literally could have been the same movie had she been an actress, and they were telling her she had to win her second Oscar in order to gain freedom, because her country was using the entertainment business to show their superiority.
     
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  28. Debbie S

    Debbie S Well-Known Member

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    Exactly. I just watched this (yay for DVR working this time!) and thought for 1 hour, they covered a lot of ground. Yes, there was a lot more to cover, and as a skating fan, there was a lot more I was interested in, but given the length, this was probably all the filmmakers could do. I haven't seen any of the other "Nine for IX" films, but I assume the goal was to choose female athletes not just from different sports, but from different backgrounds that could present a unique perspective/experience for the general audience. Being from another country, another world, really, Katarina was the int'l understanding through sport angle, hence the title "The Diplomat".

    Given the theme, I wish they'd given some attention to Katarina's '94 Olys experience (the training and the comp) and how she felt skating for a unified Germany. IIRC, the commentators said it was the first time her parents had been able to attend one of her comps outside their country. But with only an hour, there just wasn't enough time.
     
  29. olympic

    olympic Well-Known Member

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    Just watched my DVR of the repeat.

    I had no idea what pressure she was under at the 1988 Olympics! Basically, Jutta Mueller was working out a deal with the GDR to allow Kat the right to skate professionally and the GDR authorities stated she would only have that chance if she won the Olympic crown in 1988. If she didn't, she would probably disappeared into the bowels of the country. This makes more sense out of something Debi Thomas said during her TSL interview. She was walking within earshot behind Witt and Frau Mueller on her way into the Saddledome arena and she heard Witt respond to a reporter (or someone) that she hoped to win, but it was done in a very nervous and anxious tone that Debi thought was really out of character for her.
     
  30. caseyedwards

    caseyedwards Well-Known Member

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    Briefly in the subtitles you see something about five triples but they really skimmed over the details of what made her win and just how she won made her a face of a nation and the political ramifications. They could have talked more about her jumps and she made big gains personally in jumps and then could be more conservative in the 88 olympics and not do her hardest jumps. Thomas had a very brief cameo before a commercial break!! They just depicted her as a more artistic skater.