2 minute read

Katarina Witt Biography

Gave Her Life To Skating, Chronology, With Gold Came Celebrity, Held Back By Her GovernmentCONTACT INFORMATION


German figure skater

Known as "Fire on the Ice," Katarina Witt emerged from the former East Germany to become the winningest figure skater since Norway's Sonja Henie. Witt made an enormous splash onto the international scene in the 1988 Olympic Games in Sarajevo, Yugoslavia, where she took her first gold medal. Sexy and charming as well as technically astute and creatively expressive, she instantly became a media darling. All told, she earned two Olympic gold medals, four World Championship gold medals, and was European champion eight times.

Witt (pronounced "Vitt") was born December 3, 1965, in the city of Karl-Marx-Stadt, in the former East Germany, which is now known as Chimnitz, Germany. Her father, Manfred, managed an agriculture factory and her mother, Kathe, was a physical therapist. She has an older brother, Axel. Witt started kindergarten when she was five, and her walk to school took her past the Kuchwald ice arena. She became fascinated with watching the figure skaters, and soon insisted to her parents that she be allowed to join them. Every detail of Witt's first wobbly steps onto the ice would remain in her memory. "I made my way out to the middle of the ice and I remember thinking, 'This is for me,'" Witt is quoted as saying by author Evelyn B. Kelly in Katarina Witt.

Katarina Witt

Witt emerged as a natural talent, and was approached by an East German athlete training school. In former Communist nations like East Germany and the Soviet Union, promising athletes were hand-picked by the government, and then were provided training so that they would grow up to perform favorably for their country in competition. Standards for these programs were rigid, and once entry into a state school was gained, the training regimen was strict and demanding. Before a child was offered a place in a training program, every detail of her and her family's physical and behavioral nature was measured and calculated to determine their champion potential. A child who showed a tendency toward heaviness would not be allowed into the program, so Witt's parents were weighed and measured. Officials observed Witt during practice to determine her ability to resist signs of stress or nerves. Witt stood up to the testing with remarkable poise and was accepted into the sports school.


Address: Katarina Witt, c/o Parenteau Guidance, Gail Parenteau, 132 East 35th St., Ste. 3J, New York, NY 10016.

Sketch by Brenna Sanchez

Additional topics

Famous Sports StarsFigure Skating