After the golden era of U.S. ladies figure skating, there was another skater who changed the rules in the 1980s. She was Elaine Zayak.
Elaine Zayak was a skater whose physical handicap became her motive of skating. When Zayak was three years old, she lost two toes. As a therapy to rehabilitate her balance, skating was recommended by a doctor. but Zayak’s skating grew beyond just a therapy.
In the 1980s, triple jumps were the key to win the competition, and that’s Zayak’s strength. At thirteen, Zayak won both U.S. Junior Championships and the World Junior Championships.
In the 1982 World Championships , Zayak landed six triples in the free program to win the title beating Katrina Witt. It was the first time that any lady skater landed six triple jumps in competition.
Zayak’s success inspired many more to attempt triple jumps in the competition. Eventually the ISU modified the rules to limit the number of jumps in the program.
Zayak, however, suffered injuries and faced the tough challenge from Rosalynn Sumners and German skater, Katarina Witt.
Katarina Witt was born in 1965, in East Germany. Witt’s legend began with her upset victory in the 1984 Olympics against Rosalynn Sumners, the reigning World Champion . Witt went on claiming the concurrent World title.
Witt’s ability as a performer outshone her competitors and her personal charm made her a media star. Witt’s another monumental achievement came in the 1988 Calgary Olympics where she outdueled Debi Thomas, who had beat Witt in the 1986 World Championships.
The final showdown between Witt and Thomas was called “Battle of the Carmens” because the two skaters skated to the same Bizet’s opera piece in the free program.
Witt was the first woman who won two Olympics since Sonja Henie.