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Katarina Witt Mailbag
Posted: Thursday February 18, 1999 03:24 PM
I am in a Gender in Sports class and I was wondering if you feel that posing for Playboy changes the way that people look at you, and if it changes your image as a role model for younger skaters?
I think that because of the way it was done, which was pure and athletic and tasteful, that it didn't change my image as a role model. Of course, it is an adult magazine, so it was done for adults, like an actor does different roles... in one movie, he plays someone who is violent and in another, he plays someone who is family oriented. The way the photos were done, I received only compliments, and hopefully it opened the door for more female athletes.
What are you doing now? Have you ever thought of going into commentating?
I did some commentating for CBS in 1992 at the Albertville Olympics and I worked for NBC during the Worlds. I will be commentating for German TV for the Worlds in Helsinki. I am on tour right now with the Tom Collins tour, FTD Champions on Ice until March 5.
What are your hobbies and where do you live now?
My main home-base is in Berlin, even though I do spend half of my time in the United States. My main hobby is reading. I also like to watch movies and go to the movies. Basically, my work is also my hobby.
Carmen on Ice is my all-time favorite skating production. Any chance of seeing you in a similar kind of production soon?
I would love to do another production like that one. It is one of my all-time favorites too. We also did the show, "Ice Princess" that was on HBO. We have been working for quite some time on a new special, but it is very difficult to put something like that together; but I would love to do another one.
If you were still at your peak, and competing at the Olympics, do you think you could win against Michelle Kwan, Tara Lipinski, Maria Butyrskaya, and other current skaters?
The technical quality of skating has changed and more women skaters are doing more varieties of triples than I did in my time. It is a different generation and this is how it works in sports. The sport moves on. I am quite happy for the timing when I was Olympic champion.
How do American skaters compare to European skaters? Do you feel that training is more intense in Europe than in the USA?
I think training and skating is more intense in the United States because of how the audience is into skating because there are so many skating shows on TV. It is much more competitive in the States because so many young people see skating on TV and start early. But, there is also a strong dedication to the sport and a strong community of skating throughout Europe and Russia.
How do you keep fit?
I do my workouts regularly. I go to fitness clubs, lift weights and ride the stationery bikes. I also run. Plus, I am on the ice basically every day.
How has the rest of the touring professional skaters responded to your recent interview and pictorial in Playboy?
They all loved it. They all came up and said, "Hey, go girl". I was very amazed and happy that they are so supportive.
What other interests do you have other than skating?
I like to play tennis. I used to play a lot of soccer when I was younger. Since last summer, I started golfing. I love going to the movies.
What made you get into skating in the first place?
My kindergarten was close to the ice rink when I was 5 or 6 years old and everyday at lunch we would go watch it and I was fascinated. I begged my parents to take me to the rink to skate. After about 6 months of begging them, they finally took me and I began skating.
If you could turn back time, what moment or event would you choose to relive?
I am fortunate that I have had so many moments that it is difficult to choose one. For instance, the Olympics in 1984 and the Worlds in Cincinnati in 1987 were incredible. And returning to the Olympics in 1994 was fantastic. I also have all of the moments with my friends and people that I have met throughout my life.
What part of your life are you happiest with right now?
This might sound corny, but everything. I enjoy my work and the people that I meet. The group that I am touring with right now is a lot of fun and the tour is great.
When the end of 1999 comes, and all the sports shows are showing a century in review, what highlights of your career would you hope all the sport networks show?
The 1988 Olympics Carmen program.
I have been following your career for a number of years and I wonder if you feel you have achieved all of the goals you set for yourself or if there are other goals that you still plan to attain.?
First of all, I feel like I have achieved every single goal that I have made for myself. I am not the type of person that sits back and tells myself how successful I am, I like to keep going and set more goals.
After you won your second gold medal, how did you motivate yourself to continue with skating?
Just for the pure love of it. But at that point, I thought that I had achieved everything by getting medals, but there was still so much that I wanted to do with my performances and artistry, such as taking the program Carmen and making it into a TV special.
What do you think about putting a minimum age on Olympic skaters?
It is difficult because a natural way of how the sport grows is always difficult to stop. It is difficult to be fair. If there is someone who is 14 years old and very talented and should be a part of the Olympics, then maybe that person should be part of the Olympics. They might be more mature at 16, but it would be disappointing to not be able to compete just because of your age.
What does it feel like going to the Olympics for the first time?
It was funny because I didn't realize how big the Olympics were until I got home and received all of the fan mail. All of a sudden, you have an audience who throughout the year never watched skating and then they watch because it is the Olympics. My first time there, I was in the village concentrating and wanting to win the gold medal, so I was very focused. It was great for me to come back in 1994 and enjoy the Olympics as an event and celebrate the Olympics for what it was.
Do you think the state of skating is heading more towards the physical strengths rather than the artistry or can they go hand in hand?
I believe they can go hand in hand and the best example you always see is Michelle Kwan. She is very athletic and artistic as well. When you first get into skating, you are athletic, and that is natural. Once you grow and mature, you learn how to combine your artistry and athleticism and enjoy both aspects. At first it is always a sport. There will always be triples and it depends on you how you handle it and how you make it aesthetic.
Should popular music be allowed in international skating competition?
What they are trying right now in international competition is very interesting. The mixture of amateurs and pros with looser rules and popular music is great. I think that in the Worlds and the Olympics, it should stay the way it is. For instance, if some one chooses a song, like the theme from the movie Titanic, they are already ahead because of the music and how it touches people. The judges already have ideas and thoughts because of the music and how it moves them. I like the other variety of competitions that allow a mixture.
What separates the skaters who are able to continue to excel at all levels and skaters who become satisfied with the first taste of success and fade away from the public view?
Good question. The difference is the real passion and love you develop for the sport. This is how you get on top and this is how you stay on top. You don't get too overwhelmed by the success. That is the beauty of the sport. Every day you have to prove that you are a champion. There is nothing that you can fake.
What advise would you give to kids who had the dream of reaching the Olympics one day? How about advice for their parents?
Parents, let you kids dream. Don't dream for your kids. If they have the dream and the goal, there is nothing more wonderful than going for it. You go up and down every day and you need to keep your love and passion for what you are doing. Sports is very hard and takes a lot of discipline and guts. Parents need to support their kids, but in a way where they don't dream for them.
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