Linda Fratianne, a "Sterling Figure"
Many of us remember Linda Fratianne, the Californian who won the silver medal at the Lake Placid Olympics of 1980. Linda burst into the US senior national scene in 1976 by winning the silver medal and narrowing losing to Dorothy Hamill, who won her third national title. Fratianne skated a strong long program with two triple jumps – a salchow and a toe – and there were those in the audience and in the media who felt she should have won the title with that program.
Fratianne finished 8th at Innsbruck, then won four consecutive US titles (1977-1980), two World titles (1977, 1979), one World silver medal (1978) and one World bronze medal (1980). When Fratianne won her first World championship in Tokyo in 1977, she competed with a bad case of the flu. Although she fell in her long program, her overall performance was very impressive and competitive.
During the late 1970s, Fratianne and Annet Poetszch of East Germany traded World titles, and they were the co-favorites for the 1980 Olympic gold medal. In what became a controversial finish, Poetszch won the gold medal after finishing first in the school figures, fourth in the short, and third in the long, and Fratianne won the silver medal after finishing third in the school figures, first in the short, and second in the long. Poetszch emassed enough overall points to win the title, fairly and squarely.
Fratianne became one of the first skaters to wear heavily-sequined skating dresses, and she was also known for wearing dresses with “petal skirts”. She was coached by Frank Carroll, and she remained with Frank throughout her amateur career. Fratianne was known more for her technical skills than for her artistry. IMHO, her skating appeared to be a bit robotic, with simple choreography and not the greatest musical interpretation. Her 1980 Olympic long program was skated to “Carmen”. Linda wore a red dress, in the spirit of the fiery Carmen, yet she somehow did not quite catch the spirit of this character, IMHO.
After the 1980 season, Linda turned pro and skated with Disney on Ice. She also competed several years at the World Professional Championships. One of her routines included pieces from “Chariots of Fire” and “E.T.” – a very nice number.
Unfortunately, Linda’s silver medal finish at Lake Placid was a source of disappointment to her for many years. An article in “Blades on Ice” quoted her as saying that it was years before she could bring herself to look at her medal. She felt she had let everyone down – her coach, her country, her family, and herself. That’s a shame, because, in my opinion at least, an Olympic medal of any color is a tremendous achievement.
Linda lives in Sun Valley, Idaho, and she coaches young skaters. It’s hard to believe that she’s 46 years old now!
I heard somewhere that Linda was moving to California to coach at Toyota Sports Center, formerly known as Healthsouth.
She is coaching at the Healthsouth. Go there any Wednesday afternoon, and you can watch her supervising a class full of girls ages approximately 9 through 13.
Mr. Michelle Kwan
Frank Carroll has never gotten over the Lake Placid loss, as he is certain that there was corruption. He's also certain it involved Carlo Fassi, and from what I understand, he never forgave Fassi for it.
He's not the only one -- Linda herself sounds off about this topic. Make of the following article what you will:
Does the ISU or the IOC keep the tracings from the school figures part of the event? It would be nice to know if Linda really was cheated or not. I'm not surprised her story surfaced again after SLC; after the decision to award a second gold to S & P, there were many articles on athletes who think they got cheated out of golds, including the 1972 American basketball team, who lost the gold to the USSR on a questionable call by a referee from -- the USSR.
Frank Carroll believed there was collusion among the judges at Lake Placid and that a deal had been made to assure that Annet Poetszch would win the women's title. In essence, Carroll contended that Carlo Fassi, Robin Cousin's coach, had made a deal with the judges to assure that his student would win the men's title. Cousins was British, a "Western" skater. So, as Carroll thought, the judges felt that since they gave the men's title to Cousins, they could justifiably give the women's title to Poetszch from East Germany. Cousins very narrowly defeated East German Jan Hoffman for the men's title and Poetszch narrowly defeated Fratianne for the women's title.
I remember reading an article on Linda Fratianne in "Blades on Ice" in which Fratianne states that her mother overheard a conversation among some of the judges while using the ladies' rest room in the Olympic figure skating arena. One of the judges (supposedly) said, "Well, we have to give the title to Poetszch." According to Linda, her mother was "devastated" by the conversation. My feeling is, if this conversation really did occur, why did Mrs. Fratianne not go screaming to the US delegation and blow the whistle? Granted,
this was a terrible time for America, with the hostage crisis, double-digit inflation,
and the spectre of Communism hung over Europe and other areas of the world.
Would anything have happened had Mrs. Fratianne reported this conversation?
Would it have been just a "she said/I said" matter, and/or would this have backfired on Linda?
It figures that in SLC, they'd bring up Linda Fratianne and not Jan Hoffman. I guess when a deal is cut to favor a Western skater, it's OK.
Linda didn't even win the free program and she's b!tching about not getting the gold medal. She wasn't the outright winner of that event.
Cutting deals is not OK, IMHO. Unfortunately, not everyone plays fairly and squarely. You're right that Fratianne wasn't the outright winner at Lake Placid. She was third in the figures, first in the short, and second in the long. Annet Poetszch won the figures, was fourth in the short, and third in the long. It was a close finish, but Poetszch won fairly and squarely. The school figures were part of the game, and that made the difference. Whether the judges made deals, we'll probably never know. Frank Carroll contends that deals were made, and that cost Fratianne the gold medal. I'm not taking sides on this argument!
Originally Posted by soogar
I don't think Linda was cheated from the gold medal. Her school figures were always the weakest part of her game, and she consistently finished third or fourth in them at Worlds and then had to work her way up with her much stronger free skating.
Originally Posted by attyfan
I recall reading the "Blades on Ice" article in which Fratianne was quoted saying she had won the long program at Lake Placid. With all due respect, Linda, that's not accurate. You finished second in the long program to Denise Biellman,
who wound up fourth overall.
Originally Posted by SkateFan4Life
Linda has been deluded for the longest time. It's really pathetic to listen to her whine about how she can't look at her silver medal. Her mind is so poisoned that she can't even remember the event accurately.
Linda should have spent more time practicing her figures. If she had spent even a quarter of the time that she has spent b!tiching about the result on training her figures, she would have won the OGM.
Originally Posted by soogar
She and Roz are terrible role models. If they are so shamed by their silver medals, they should return them.
I agree - Linda Fratianne should have devoted more time in polishing her school figures. If her figures were as good as Poetszch - or even very close - Linda would have had a far, far better chance at winning the gold in Lake Placid.
Originally Posted by soogar
Brad, I won't try to defend Fratianne and/or Sumner's behavior at losing the gold medals, but in all fairness, please let me say a few things. First, the US media has always hyped up the women's Olympic figure skating competition, bigtime. America is the land of Carol Heiss, Peggy Fleming, and Dorothy Hamill, and the press expected Fratianne to become the next member of this exclusive club. Back in the 1980s, when an American woman won only the silver medal, the press and entertainment industry really did not know what to do with her. Willing “only” silver was considered to be a major slip-up.
Fleming and Hamill won the gold medal and a lifetime of fame. Both starred in television specials, had lucrative endorsements, were headliners in skating shows and tours, and still today are known by their first names.
Fratianne and Sumners were pretty much dismissed by the media, and their “claim to fame” rested on their failure to win the gold medal – hardly the kind of fame anyone would want to have. Both skated to Disney on Ice for several years, and from all accounts, both were less than thrilled with the experience.
The press focused exclusively on Fratianne and all but ignored Annet Poetszch, who as a two-time World champion heading into Lake Placid, was certainly worthy of attention. The press was so wrapped up in the Sumners/Elaine Zayak rivalry that they forgot to pay attention to Katarina Witt.
IMHO, the press just couldn’t accept the idea that an East German could outskate an American.
I pulled out a copy of my Lake Placid "Olympic Preview" magazine and re-read the article on Linda Fratianne, who was priming to win the gold medal. The writer
described Fratianne's "almost nun-like devotion to skating" and that she had cried her eyes out when she lost her World title in 1978 to Annet Poetszch. The judges, apparently, felt that Linda needed more fire, more flair, and more artistry in her skating, and their marks reflected their opinion. Linda had worked hard to improve her presentation, and she regained her World title in 1979.
Would she win at Lake Placid? Frank Carroll was quoted as saying, "I love her dearly. She's at the point now where she will either become one of the great skaters or she will remain a brilliant technician."
Thanks for the head-up on Linda's whereabouts. Unfortunately, it's a 3,000-plus mile plane ride from NJ to southern California, so I won't be dropping in to catch Linda in action.
Originally Posted by IDLERACER
I wish her well, and I hope she enjoys coaching her young students.