Ladies Figure Skating 1977-80

olympic

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Off-season stuff.

I began watching figure skating as a young boy when the Olympics came to Lake Placid in 1980. Naturally, I will always remember the ladies competing there who grew and came up in the 1977-80 quadrennial. I looked at past results and saw results from ladies that I don't recall watching or even hearing about before:

1. Barbie Smith (USA) - Who was she? She finished 4th at 1977 Worlds. The scores suggest she was really close to the podium and a strong competitor. I don't think I ever heard of her and she certainly wasn't in the running by the time Lake Placid rolled around.

2. Wendy Burge (USA) - She finished 5th at the same Worlds. I know who she was. She was a strong US competitor in 1975 and 1976. I think she was tough competition for a weak Dorothy Hamill at 1975 U.S. Championships. She got an SO at Innsbruck for her LP. I assume she retired after 1977 Worlds? I never saw her among the ranks of the US elite again.

3. Susanna Driano (ITA) - IIRC, she was an American who competed for Italy a la Dianne DeLeeuw? She won bronze at 1978 Worlds, and I see she competed at Lake Placid but her finish wasn't that great. Was there anything outstanding about her skating that would've put her on the podium?

4. GDR skaters, Marion Weber and Carola Weissenberg - Were they Jutta Mueller pupils? Both had top 10 finishes at 1977 and 1978/79 Worlds respectively. The GDR sent a skater to 1981 Worlds named Carola Paul. Is that the same person? It is interesting that there was talent aside from Poetzsch in the GDR, but they only sent Poetzsch and no other GDR skater to Lake Placid in 1980. A very young Witt would finish 10th at 1980 Worlds (I think). I often wonder why the GDR didn't utilize spots available to them.

5. Elena Vodorezova (USSR) - I remember her being a jumping Wunderkind at Innsbruck and at 1978 Worlds, but it looks like she did not compete at Lake Placid. I think she was injured, but what type of injury keeps you off the ice for that length of time? Were there issues with the Soviet Fed?? I see Kira Ivanova competed for the USSR in 1979 and 1980.

6. Priscilla Hill (USA) - She finished in the top 10 in 1978, but I don't recall her being in the mix at U.S. Nationals to be on the Olympic team in 1980.

7. Carrie Rugh (USA) - She was no. 3 US lady in 1979. It seems by the time the U.S. sent a team to Lake Placid, Fratianne and Lisa Marie Allen were no. 1 and 2, but there was a scrum for no. 3.

Other points of interest, Poetzsch was a jumping bean in 1976, but watered down her content as the quadrennial progressed. I think she only completed 1 triple in the LP at Lake Placid. Fratianne similarly took out harder entrances to water down her LP: I recall she did a series of split leaps into her 3toe in 1977, but that was gone later. I also recall her doing more 2A, some in combo but that was also taken out. Lurz seemed a default to bronze in the judge's minds, unless someone put together great skates: Driano edged her out in 1978 and Watanabe in 1979. I know Watanabe blew the SP at Lake Placid, so I wonder if she could've won a Bronze there had she competed cleanly. I don't have anything to say about Biellmann except she was in the mix at various Worlds prior to Lake Placid, but always seemed buried in the figures. So close. It's a shame she didn't improve her figures. I think at the time, she executed a successful 3L at one championship, as well as the 3Z, and was listed in the Guinness Book of World Records for being the first lady to do a 3Z, the hardest jump until the 3A was done by Midori Ito.

As a footnote, CAN seemed to send different ladies to different championships - Lynn Nightingale, Heather Kemkaren, Janet Morrisey, and Kemkaren was sent to Lake Placid in 1980. Nightingale was the highest finisher but I assume she retired because she was part of the previous quadrennial.
 
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floskate

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Barbie Smith was 4th at Worlds in 1977 and just missed making the 1976 Olympic team finishing fourth in Colorado Springs at the 1976 Nationals despite landing two triples in her freeskate. Here's her 1977 Worlds freeskate. I do have some footage of her from 1977 Nationals somewhere but I think it's home video...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6WC6oy_2vyA

Carrie Rugh - quintessential 1970's John Nicks skater. I LOVED her 1979 Worlds LP. She was a skater of quality but US ladies was so stacked back then and with the arrival of Elaine Zayak and her 7 triple LP at the 1980 US Nationals, Rugh was definitely lost in the shuffle.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=THPVhwnX-q4

Marion Weber was a student of Jutta Muller but Weissenberg skated out of the Dynamo club in Berlin so she must have had a different coach. Carola Paul who appeared briefly in 1981 and became the first woman to do a triple flip at the World Championships was not a Frau Muller skater either and skated out of Dresden.

Ladies skating in general for this quad was......not so great. There are a few standout performances like Lisa-Marie Allen at 1978 US Nationals and Worlds, Wendy Burge at 1977 US Nationals with the lights out, Emi Watanabe's skate of a lifetime at 1980 Worlds and of course Denise Biellmann's performances at the 1980 Olympics. But other than this, I'm struggling to think of any particularly memorable skates.
 

olympic

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Barbie Smith was 4th at Worlds in 1977 and just missed making the 1976 Olympic team finishing fourth in Colorado Springs at the 1976 Nationals despite landing two triples in her freeskate. Here's her 1977 Worlds freeskate. I do have some footage of her from 1977 Nationals somewhere but I think it's home video...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6WC6oy_2vyA

Carrie Rugh - quintessential 1970's John Nicks skater. I LOVED her 1979 Worlds LP. She was a skater of quality but US ladies was so stacked back then and with the arrival of Elaine Zayak and her 7 triple LP at the 1980 US Nationals, Rugh was definitely lost in the shuffle.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=THPVhwnX-q4

Marion Weber was a student of Jutta Muller but Weissenberg skated out of the Dynamo club in Berlin so she must have had a different coach. Carola Paul who appeared briefly in 1981 and became the first woman to do a triple flip at the World Championships was not a Frau Muller skater either and skated out of Dresden.

Ladies skating in general for this quad was......not so great. There are a few standout performances like Lisa-Marie Allen at 1978 US Nationals and Worlds, Wendy Burge at 1977 US Nationals with the lights out, Emi Watanabe's skate of a lifetime at 1980 Worlds and of course Denise Biellmann's performances at the 1980 Olympics. But other than this, I'm struggling to think of any particularly memorable skates.

This was the first quad where elite ladies were attempting triples on a greater scale and the best were doing triple combos in the SP if they expected to medal. I think the alternative was to build a big lead in the figures, attempt a triple and say a prayer (Poetzsch and Lutz) to stay on the podium. Do you think the increase in tech led to ladies concentrating on getting the jump done and ignoring skills, choreography, etc? Or do you think the quad was largely devoid of stars?
 

Foolhardy Ham Lint

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Do you think the increase in tech led to ladies concentrating on getting the jump done and ignoring skills, choreography, etc? Or do you think the quad was largely devoid of stars?

Definitely a little of both.

Such was the depth of ladies' skating, including one or two double axels in a free skate was no longer enough to hope for the podium. Ladies' needed a triple or two if they wanted to outdistance the competition.

These jumps weren't easy, and being something new, meant more concentration was placed on technical elements, often at the cost of performing.

Fratianne in particular, has sometimes being criticised for being a bit of a technical robot.

But to her credit, after touring with Disney for many years as a professional, she evolved into an excellent entertainer.
 

olympic

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Thanks. My memory is hazy but I recall Poetzsch used to attempt 2-3 triples but was down to 1 in the LP at Lake Placid. Fratianne always had the sal and toe but I recall her program used to be more packed with transitions into the triples and had multiple 2A with a combo. I think Lurz had a 3R and Biellmann would attempt 3-4 triples. I don’t recall the triples executed by Watanabe or Allen
 

Foolhardy Ham Lint

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Thanks. My memory is hazy but I recall Poetzsch used to attempt 2-3 triples but was down to 1 in the LP at Lake Placid. Fratianne always had the sal and toe but I recall her program used to be more packed with transitions into the triples and had multiple 2A with a combo. I think Lurz had a 3R and Biellmann would attempt 3-4 triples. I don’t recall the triples executed by Watanabe or Allen

Poetsch landed a triple toe loop and a triple salchow in her free skate in Lake Placid. It appears Annett scheduled a third triple, another salchow, but doubled it. Perhaps the most controversial aspect of her win, was when she doubled the triple toe loop (which was to have been a double loop / triple toe loop in her short program). Winning the figures, but placing fourth in the short, and third in the free, had the scoring system which would come into effect the next season been used in Lake Placid, Fratianne would have taken the gold.

Lurz landed three triples in Lake placing (two salchows and a loop). It has to be said that Dick Button really got his boots into her with his brutal commentary. To be honest, the audience in Lake Placid, still smarting over Babilonia and Gardner's tragic withdrawal, barely applauded for any skater that wasn't American (or Robin Cousins).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2ec5AsSdhnk

Allen landed a triple salchow (and had a very good skate). Watanabe stumbled on her triple salchow, but landed a solid triple toe loop seconds later.

My favourite free skate of all in Lake Placid came from Sandy Lenz. She was a natural showman, and really made the most of the opportunity to skate in front of the partisan audience.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UTSLta1p0jg

Interestingly, a month later, Elaine Zayak would make her debut at the World Championships. She would quickly establish herself as an exciting and dynamic skater, her routines packed with insanely - difficult content.
 
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olympic

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Thanks. I forgot that Lurz was technically ambitious. The performance was clean and I agree w/ the tech mark, but take away the jumps and there was practically nothing there, so the DB commentary was a bit harsh but not inaccurate IMO>
 

Foolhardy Ham Lint

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Thanks. I forgot that Lurz was technically ambitious. The performance was clean and I agree w/ the tech mark, but take away the jumps and there was practically nothing there, so the DB commentary was a bit harsh but not inaccurate IMO>

I guess. The West German ladies from that era (Dagmar Lurz, Karin Riediger, Manuela Ruben, Claudia Leistner, Marina Kiellmann,) were all solid jumpers, but presented routines that chopped and changed musical cuts every thirty seconds. It was very distracting (yet typical of the sport's rules) when presenting as many different moods as possible was the norm.
 

bardtoob

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7. Carrie Rugh (USA) - She was no. 3 US lady in 1979. It seems by the time the U.S. sent a team to Lake Placid, Fratianne and Lisa Marie Allen were no. 1 and 2, but there was a scrum for no. 3.

Carrie was injured during the 1979-80 season :(

My random thoughts -

1) Disco sound track to "Close Encounters of the 3rd Kind" ... Dang, they discoed EVERYTHING!

2) lol ... She has the catch foot layback everybody acquired with Nicks.

3) She's very pretty.

4) So this is about when Fassi, Nicks, Carroll, etc. started dominating the ladies event at Nationals.
 

Maximillian

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Smith was actually highly touted going into the 1976 Olympic season, she had finished fourth and was the 'it' girl at '75 Nats as a 15 year old with impressive content and a standing ovation, but withdrew from '76 Nationals with an injury and Fratianne stole her thunder. After finishing behind Fratianne at '77 Nationals and then again at Worlds she might have seen the writing on the wall (or she might have gotten injured--in any event she is definitely thought to be a skater who didn't fulfil their initial promise)

There was a section about Lisa Marie Allen in some book about young athletes from back in the day, and she along with Smith and Burge were all coached by Barbara Roles. According to the book, Roles was going through a divorce at the time and was as such, allegedly not always the gentlest coach, which also played a part in Burge and Smith's relatively early departures from the sport.

Of course, Vodorozova is now Buianova...but she was quite the phenom back in the day. The story goes that she was struck down with juvenile arthritis after '78 Worlds and was not seen again at Worlds until '82, where she finished fifth I want to say, but she was no longer the jumping talent she had been, she was much taller and could only consistently land the double axel (which WAS a gorgeous jump), she wound up taking the bronze at '83 Worlds and then competed at Sarajevo where she finished second to Sumners in the figures before dropping like a stone to the bottom half of the top ten after the SP and LP.

I've always found it interesting that Fratianne never changed her jump content or layout in her LPs from '76 to '80, I realize she is not the only one, I guess it just seems so glaring since she was so young in '76 and yet four years later her LP started with the triple toe and then followed with the triple sal and then the rest doubles just as it had been four years earlier. Personally I found Poetzch to be a much more charismatic skater (as in, she appeared to be aware that there was an audience on occasion during her programs) and Linda really mechanical. I would generally agree that quad, though fascinating for its various rivalries didn't produce much actually notable skating. The difference between the quality of Fratianne/Poetzch's skating with that of Hamill, Lynn, Magnusson is noticeable.
 
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bardtoob

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Personally I found Poetzch to be a much more charismatic skater (as in, she appeared to be aware that there was an audience on occasion during her programs) and Linda really mechanical.

Neither were particularly warm on the ice.

Linda was apparently shy but it appeared snobbish. We know different now. Linda is quite sweet.

Annette looked like she could easy transition from skating to harvesting wheat. I have heard Annette appeared quite reserved because of cultural and political conditions surrounding her. However, she could be friendly and funny.

The difference between the quality of Fratianne/Poetzch's skating with that of Hamill, Lynn, Magnusson is noticeable.

Add Schuba to your pre-1976 sample, and it starts looking about the same on average.

My understanding is that Fassi with Hamill and Carroll with Fratianne had no desire to reproduce the heart break that was Lynn's career for their skaters, despite it drawing away training from their free skating in favor of figures.
 
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olympic

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Interesting that despite the opinions about Linda being cold or inattentive to an audience, she always beat Poetzsch in the LP and on the 2nd mark, I think even in those years when Poetzsch won?
 

bardtoob

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Interesting that despite the opinions about Linda being cold or inattentive to an audience, she always beat Poetzsch in the LP and on the 2nd mark, I think even in those years when Poetzsch won?

Linda was more technically complete as a free skater despite Annette's obvious advantage in speed.

Annette had:
- general speed
- fast steps
- serviceable spins
- capacity but inconsistency in triple jumps

but she glaringly lacked field moves (transitions) and could not do a triple in combination with a 2Lp.

Linda had:
- more speed than the top 6 after figures except Annette
- steps
- serviceable spins
- some triples
- field moves

In all reality, Linda and Annette were somewhere around 3rd-5th among free skaters in the world for there time. However, Annette made up for it in figures while Linda made up for it across both figures and the SP.

Probably the top free skaters of that era when skating well were Emmy Watanabe, Lisa Marie Allen, and Denise Beillmann.
 
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Foolhardy Ham Lint

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I've always found it interesting that Fratianne never changed her jump content or layout in her LPs from '76 to '80, I realize she is not the only one, I guess it just seems so glaring since she was so young in '76 and yet four years later her LP started with the triple toe and then followed with the triple sal and then the rest doubles just as it had been four years earlier. Personally I found Poetzch to be a much more charismatic skater (as in, she appeared to be aware that there was an audience on occasion during her programs) and Linda really mechanical. I would generally agree that quad, though fascinating for its various rivalries didn't produce much actually notable skating. The difference between the quality of Fratianne/Poetzch's skating with that of Hamill, Lynn, Magnusson is noticeable.

I think I read somewhere that Linda trained triples other than the salchow and the toe-loop, but the USFSA felt she didn't need them.

How ironic that Poetszch seemed so much more American than Fratianne in her choice of music, skating to selections from West Side Story (in the sp) and Funny Girl (for her lp) in Lake Placid.

It must have been tough for a more introspective skater like Linda to follow the likes of Janet Lynn and Dorothy Hamill. Those two exuded personality to the rafters.
 
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Maximillian

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How ironic that Poetszch seemed so much more American than Fratianne in her choice of music, skating to selections from West Side Story (in the sp) and Funny Girl (for her lp) in Lake Placid.

I thought Funny Girl was a great vehicle for Poetzch and she was quite engaging and charismatic throughout the program. Anett's technique on some of her jumps was a bit dubious, though, which is why she had some difficulty with consistency. Her take off on her double axel in particular, always makes me hold my breadth. Witt didn't have the same technique, but Evelyn Grossman another protégé of Frau Mueller did.
 

olympic

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Linda was more technically complete as a free skater despite Annette's obvious advantage in speed.

Annette had:
- general speed
- fast steps
- serviceable spins
- capacity but inconsistency in triple jumps

but she glaringly lacked field moves (transitions) and could not do a triple in combination with a 2Lp.

Linda had:
- more speed than the top 6 after figures except Annette
- steps
- serviceable spins
- some triples
- field moves

In all reality, Linda and Annette were somewhere around 3rd-5th among free skaters in the world for there time. However, Annette made up for it in figures while Linda made up for it across both figures and the SP.

Probably the top free skaters of that era when skating well were Emmy Watanabe, Lisa Marie Allen, and Denise Beillmann.

Is 3rd - 5th an opinion? Because Linda used to win the LP at Worlds (I think '78, '79 and '80 Worlds - that last one when Watanabe was ON), losing the LP to Biellmann at Lake Placid and I think to Vodorezova in '77
 

Foolhardy Ham Lint

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Is 3rd - 5th an opinion? Because Linda used to win the LP at Worlds (I think '78, '79 and '80 Worlds - that last one when Watanabe was ON), losing the LP to Biellmann at Lake Placid and I think to Vodorezova in '77

The marking system back then really highlights how much weight compulsory figures really carried. Especially against a solid skater like Poetszch.
 
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Maximillian

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Is 3rd - 5th an opinion? Because Linda used to win the LP at Worlds (I think '78, '79 and '80 Worlds - that last one when Watanabe was ON), losing the LP to Biellmann at Lake Placid and I think to Vodorezova in '77
To be fair, Linda had the reputation as the freeskater, while Anett had the reputation as the figures worker, and they both had been clearly delineated as such and so I suppose just as Anett probably benefited from her reputation with regards to her scores in figures, so too, Linda benefited from her rep in the freeskate.
 

bardtoob

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Is 3rd - 5th an opinion? Because Linda used to win the LP at Worlds (I think '78, '79 and '80 Worlds - that last one when Watanabe was ON), losing the LP to Biellmann at Lake Placid and I think to Vodorezova in '77

Skating order influenced the marks greatly back then. Those that placed high in the early phases had higher marks reserved for them since they skated after those that placed lower in the earlier phases.
 

floskate

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Linda did come second to Vodorezova in the free at 1977 worlds. She was ill and took a fall on her opening triple but skated clean from there. Regarding the latters disappearance from 1978 - 1982, she did show up at 1980 worlds but withdrew after the short.

Interesting some think Anett was charismatic; compared to Linda she was but it is curious to note that both Anett and Jan Hoffmann were very entertaining and charismatic skaters as children in major championships. Sadly that seemed to lessen as they grew, although Jan was terrific in his final season and based on the rules and scoring system in place at the time, should have won in Lake Placid.
 

olympic

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Also, the scoring system was generally messed up from 1977-1980.

Jan Hoffman scored the highest amount of points at both the Worlds and Olympics in 1980 ... But he only placed 2nd at the Olympics because of the placements rather than the points.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/1980_World_Figure_Skating_Championships

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Figure_skating_at_the_1980_Winter_Olympics

During this period which ran from 1973-80, placements were based on a majority of judges' ordinals, whose placements were strictly based on points (up to 6.0) they had given during the competition. So, if 5 judges gave Robin Cousins higher total marks than Hoffmann, despite Hoffmann receiving an overall higher total if you were to add all 9 judges' points together, Cousins would be the winner. It is a head scratcher.

It is less talked about, but Fratianne at '80 Worlds had a higher point total than Lurz to earn a Bronze while Lurz took Silver.
 

Foolhardy Ham Lint

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Linda did come second to Vodorezova in the free at 1977 worlds. She was ill and took a fall on her opening triple but skated clean from there. Regarding the latters disappearance from 1978 - 1982, she did show up at 1980 worlds but withdrew after the short.

Interesting some think Anett was charismatic; compared to Linda she was but it is curious to note that both Anett and Jan Hoffmann were very entertaining and charismatic skaters as children in major championships. Sadly that seemed to lessen as they grew, although Jan was terrific in his final season and based on the rules and scoring system in place at the time, should have won in Lake Placid.

Speaking of East Germans, I'm sorry that Sonja Morgenstern never fully realised her potential. Had injury not pushed her into obscurity, she could have been a very serious medal threat to the likes of Karen Magnussen, Janet Lynn, Dorothy Hamill, and her compatriot, Christine Errath.
 

floskate

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Speaking of East Germans, I'm sorry that Sonja Morgenstern never fully realised her potential. Had injury not pushed her into obscurity, she could have been a very serious medal threat to the likes of Karen Magnussen, Janet Lynn, Dorothy Hamill, and her compatriot, Christine Errath.

Yes she had personality! The Goldie Hawn of skating. But with not so great figures and Frau Mullers choreo and music choices to be saddled with, I'm not sure she would have been in the running for anything other than bronze. Loved to watch her though!
 

viennese

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Off-season stuff.
4. GDR skaters, Marion Weber and Carola Weissenberg - Were they Jutta Mueller pupils? Both had top 10 finishes at 1977 and 1978/79 Worlds respectively. The GDR sent a skater to 1981 Worlds named Carola Paul. Is that the same person? It is interesting that there was talent aside from Poetzsch in the GDR, but they only sent Poetzsch and no other GDR skater to Lake Placid in 1980. A very young Witt would finish 10th at 1980 Worlds (I think). I often wonder why the GDR didn't utilize spots available to them.

That's an interesting question. If you look at the GDR figure teams for other Olympic games, they don't send as many skaters as they could have. But they didn't have infinite resources. And they also set criteria for their athletes: If they didn't achieve certain placements at Europeans or other pre-Olympic competitions, they didn't get to go.
 

olympic

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That's an interesting question. If you look at the GDR figure teams for other Olympic games, they don't send as many skaters as they could have. But they didn't have infinite resources. And they also set criteria for their athletes: If they didn't achieve certain placements at Europeans or other pre-Olympic competitions, they didn't get to go.

I understood that the DEU has done that recently, but did the DDR back then also do that?? Weber and Weissenberg were top material and a 14 yr. old Katarina Witt was about to take the world by storm. Carola Paul was also a representative at '81 Worlds. It would seem that they had plenty of options for #2.
 

Maximillian

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East Germany did not send skaters they didn't think had a shot at medalling to the Olympics. I believe the selection for Worlds/Euros was done by the skating federation who were probably more inclined to allow skaters to go for 'experience', etal. But I've read that the Olympic committee was very severe in terms of only selecting athletes who had a legitimate shot at medalling.
 

gkelly

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My coach competed during this era for a smaller eastern block federation that hardly ever sent any skaters to Europeans, let alone Worlds and Olympics.
 

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