I was trying to look up some of Witt's program music and found her website/blog... maybe it's old news but I found it very interesting. She writes about the major competitions of each season and is quite candid. It's written in a conversational style and has some great lines... I was bored so thought I would share... hope someone enjoys this
After the Olympic Games in Sarajevo, not only the figure skating circle knows my name. I had now also won hearts in the United States. One journalist reporting from Sarajevo wrote in his editorial, "I have just seen Brooke Shields on skates" and according to a sports magazine, one television reporter had sighed, "If that's the true face of socialism, then it's fine with me if America becomes socialist. But why the hell isn't she from Hollywood?" Well, we all know that America would not become socialist, but the German Democratic Republic would become democratic six years later, after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. I met Brooke, who was already a big film star at that time, in the nineties in Sun Valley, my favorite place in the summer for more than a decade, and a popular holiday resort for Hollywood stars. She came up to me, gave me a hug, and said it was like meeting her sister. Of course there was also much said to her about our similarity, and at this first meeting, we laughed a lot.
Luckily, I actually managed to pull a Hattrick, winning all three major titles in one season, and for the first time, I was also able to receive a gold medal for each of the 3 categories, the dreaded compulsories (Oh man, the endless, boring hours of compulsory training this year actually paid off ), the short program, and the freestyle. However, it would be for the last time.
During training in Copenhagen, where one should always be stylish as possible from head to toe. Not just sports clothes. No, the pretty dress is a must.
Following the compulsories, I am in third place, which I considered a good starting point for myself. Kira Iwanowa was, as always, in first place, with a much improved Debi Thomas in second. Ooh lala! She had finished in fifth place at the last World Championships, but how did she get so far ahead in the compulsories this year? I hadn't expected that.
Since I skated before Debi, I watched her program from the band. I think nothing of it, except that it would be silly to be on site and have to watch it on a monitor. Again and again, I read comments in the newspaper and on You Tube that I wanted to distract my opponent. Nonsense! I wasn't that strategic. Debi Thomas jumped four triples, Salchow and toe-loop, left the Rittberger out for tactical purposes, and won the well-deserved World Championship crown, as she was the best-rounded in all three categories, compulsory, short program and freestyle.
The compulsories, during which one skates in boring circles for hours on one leg in a state of consciousness and wanting to go to sleep, still doesn't have me jumping for joy. Instead, I dream in the morning stillness of the ice rink, circling away, making up nice stories and thinking of boys. Hello, I'm old enough for that now.
Okay, I'll admit, the triple Rittberger I had planned, who isn't one of my best friends, was omitted again for tactical purposes. After seeing that the others weren't without their mistakes, I didn't really need it. Why risk a possible mistake? It was enough that evening for the highest scores, and I was thinking, "Debi Thomas, you'd better watch out, I'm on my way..."
Enjoying training in front of 5,000 spectators. With these bright colors on my body, eyelids and ears, I'd be hard to miss! In my own defence, it was back in the 80's!
In interviews, I am always careful with predictions when asked what my plans are. What kind of a strange question is that? Naturally, athletes travel to competitions in order to do their best and the best go there to win. But of course, one can't openly say that for fear of possibly messing up. Nonetheless, in my first television interview on NBC, this line actually slipped out of my mouth: "Ay kemm tu chintzschinettie tu vinn may teitle beck". And this with the heaviest Saxon accent. With that, I became the biggest entertainment of the week, and this comment was broadcast almost every day.
During the collective freestyle training, the music for each participant was played once, so that we could practice. Many skate through the whole program, some only partially, and some ignore the music altogether. Through the years I have noticed more and more that figure skating, for me, means more than just doing the jumps, which I am always getting better at, and what I really enjoy most is to apply my rhythmic instincts and simply improvise. Dancing, skating effortlessly, inventing new dance steps, and acting out the music has become an emotional outlet for me. So here I am taking the opportunity to improvise to new music. Caryn Kadavy had chosen Spanish music for her freestyle, and I am especially fond of it. Without thinking, I get absorbed in the music and apparently do a pretty good job. The spectators applauded like crazy, and I am glowing. But Caryn is pretty ticked-off. And rightly so! I had unconsciously taken all the attention away from her! I really never did that on purpose, although I am often accused of that. I simply phased out everything around me and let my body just go with the music, something I would have the pleasure of doing for many, many years. But right now, in March of 1987, I don't know that yet. Finally, the competitions begin, and with them, the compulsories. And with them, my first bust. Fifth place! What a shock! Pardon me, but how in the world am I supposed to win my title back? By now I am used to having to come up from behind, but from the fifth place? This seems like a hopeless case, and victory now looks like a distant dream.
I take one more deep breath, try to relax and bolster myself up. The first triple combination went without batting an eye, the triple Salchow was also good to me, the double axel remembered, too, that it was part of the program, and now came the clincher. I know, that without a triple Rittberger, I won't even be going home with a flower pot. The choreography allows me to get a glimpse of Mrs. Müller, who subtly gives me an encouraging nod, and I can do nothing at this point but take the risk. I dash into the run-up, make my approach, jump, and carry it through. Yippee! The subsequent triple Salchow combination also knows where it belongs, and on the landing of the fifth and last triple, I can hardly keep my mouth closed for joy. During the steps that followed, I spontaneously start singing the text, "I want to be in America".
At the end, I was almost in a trance, and feel like I am flying through the program and the spectators are carrying me to the last double axel. Everything turns out right. It was to be the most technically difficult and most worthwhile freestyle performance in my entire career.
To present and play the role of Maria, from the popular American music archives in the USA here in Cincinnati was unprecedented for me, and I hope that Dick Button, who had made the comment, "An East German dances an American Maria like an American dances a Russian Kasachok," will take it back at some point. After my freestyle, the audience gives me a standing ovation, and I wish I could hug each and every one of them. But Mrs. Müller and I almost crushed each other in our exuberance at the "Kiss and Cry". Then I get another 6.0 in the B category and can't believe it all. One has to give credit to the figure skating fans, but also to the American spectators. They always support their own skaters, but at the same time, they are also fair to his or her opponent, and always appreciate their performance. This is the only way an athlete really has a chance! Luckily, I could make good on my badly pronounced verbal "threat" and get "mai teitl beck." The duel with Debi is to be continued...
The coach for Elizabeth Manley, the Canadian favourite, who was in fourth place after the compulsories, could smell the gold medal for his pupil, and tried to a certain degree, to discredit my performance. He told the press, "We are accustomed to skaters being properly dressed and not wearing a thong..."
This gave the journalists a juicy topic aside from the usual Olympic reporting. Then Alec McGowan, Debi's Trainer, caught wind of a rumour, and believed I would get an extra tenth, since 7 of the 9 judges were male.
There was also a loud applause for Debi Thomas, who gave a competent and energetic performance. Incidentally, in a thoroughly sexy black body suit, which wonderfully accentuated her perfectly trained body--a vision that would keep any man from thinking about his train set. Oops, where is her skirt? Apparently that doesn't bother anyone these days. She received a higher A score for technical merit, but with eight scores of 5.9 for artistic interpretation, I have the advantage. I don't think I got those scores because of the feathers on my costume or because my butt was hardly covered.
One journalist wrote for the DPA, "The worst thing for Carmen, is when she runs into Carmen. Because nobody loves Carmen as much as Carmen loves herself. And there's nothing Carmen hates more than seeing Carmen in someone else."
As different as our attitudes are on the ice, so were our interpretations of Carmen. My choreographer Rudi Suchy, Mrs. Müller and I are geared toward convention. I attempt to be seductive, coquettish, and to translate her story of love, pain and sorrow with choreography. And of course I must do this while "dying".
Debi, in her funny, sarcastic manner, said in an interview, "I hope it will be of great significance that the Witt dies at the end of her freestyle, and Debi survives."Debi wants joi de vivre to be the main focus of her Carmen interpretation, and has consulted the fantastic, legendary Russian ballet dancer Michael Baryschnikow, for the artistic direction. Her freestyle is athletically dynamic, and the dancing is gracefully choreographed.
The bells at the beginning of my music transform me into Carmen immediately. Energetically, I jump my first combination triple toe-loop / double toe-loop, on to the triple Salchow, then the double axel and another triple toe-loop. And almost without breathing. I make up for that.
I spend the hard-won 30 seconds flirting with the judges, and not only with the 7 men among them, and "posing" choreographically for the audience. That's unimaginable today! Too bad, really!
Peggy Fleming and Dick Button, commentating for ABC, utilize this little "break". Peggy wants to give me a woman-to-woman compliment, and said, "This is the moment in which Katarina attempts to draw in the audience's attention. And her theatrical..." But she doesn't get any further, as Dick finished her sentence in a somewhat brash manner, "there's nothing theatrical about that, it's just posing."
If only they knew, that during the "flirting break", my heart almost fell into my costume, because suddenly, I had no more strength in my legs. During the habanera, "Love is a wild bird, which no one can tame, and it is useless to call him, if he doesn't want to come" I feel weak and tired and would prefer to stop. Hello! In front of a million spectators, I can hardly fall asleep on the ice! I realize in the run-up to the triple Rittberger, that I don't have the necessary chutzpah for that, and do a double instead. The following triple Salchow combination went so flawlessly well, I would have loved to have audibly screamed for joy. But for now I am Carmen, and can't very well let out a squeal of delight, while the jealous José is on the verge of giving me a razor sharp death blow. The last double axel is also a success, and I feel that I have given my all for Carmen. Four triple jumps securely demonstrated, every facet played out emotionally and choreographically, and yet I know--"lifeless" at the end, and draped across the ice-"Oh man, nothing has been won yet, and everything is still wide open for Debi". With a heavy heart, relieved for the most part, but still a bit anxious, I get up, and four seconds later, I'm Katarina again.
And it keeps going around in my head: this will be the last time. One last "Carmen", the last time to tie my skates for a competition. The last six minutes of skating. Everything seems to be for the last time on this day. Perhaps it was this melancholy and sadness that made my legs feel so heavy on this evening, and my usual attitude was gone. However, it is as if all the favourites have been jinxed, and none of them made a breathtaking presentation. The season is long, the thrill is gone.
My performance during the freestyle was not as masterful as I had wanted it to be for my last time. With only three triples and one double axel, I still made a few mistakes, and the mutual gratification with Mrs. Müller was limited, as we sat together in the "Kiss & Cry". The scores for my freestyle program were very favourable, considering the performance. It was written all over my face, how astounded I was. When you know, yourself, that it hasn't gone well, and the judge has plenty of reasons to punish you, but instead gives you a good score, you don't really feel right about it.
Perhaps the freestyle scores at this World Championship in Budapest were a little parting gift for me. But that is figure skating, too!
Thus, the three of us stood on the victory podium. Not all that happy at first, but relieved that it is finally over. As we extended our hands to each other, Liz used the opportunity to congratulate Debi on her marriage. I think, "Hey, what have you been missing out on?", and then I ask, "What wedding? When?" And Debi said, "Yeah, I got married pretty quickly, after Calgary and before the World Championship." I can't believe it. I train like crazy, and she just gets married. So there we are on the podium, receiving our medals, flowers, congratulations and the usual kisses on the cheek, and all the while we are in discussion and rather amused. And everyone around must have wondered, what in the world are those girls talking about up there on the podium?