Janet Lynn, A Dream on the Ice
One of my all-time favorite skaters was American Janet Lynn of Rockville, Illinois. Janet burst into prominence on the US skating scene at the 1967 Nationals, where at the age of 13 she landed a triple salchow - a move that was practically unheard of then in women's skating. Janet won the bronze medal at the 1968 US Nationals and competed at the Olympics, where she finished a respectable ninth. Janet finished sixth in the long program, and she delighted the crowd with her strong technical moves and her brilliant smile.
Janet then won five successive United States titles, from 1969 through 1973. She typically finished at least in the top three in the long program of every Worlds from 1969 through 1973 and the 1972 Olympics, and she won that phase of the competition a number of times. Unfortunately, Janet was relatively weak in the school figures, which were part of the mix during her competitive years. You simply could not win a championship if you had weak figures, and at every Worlds and the Olympics she competed in, Janet always had to work her way up in the standings after the figures. Janet did not win a World medal until 1972 - the bronze - the year she also won the Olympic bronze medal.
In 1973 the ISU initiated the short program which supposedly would give great free skaters like Lynn more of an edge. Janet fell twice in the 1973 Worlds short program, yet she skated a strong, powerful long program, and she won the silver medal that year.
What made Janet Lynn a great skater, in my opinon, was not the medals or titles, but her magical, angelic quality. She had a smile that reached the top seat of the ice rink. She had a brilliant feel for the music, and her choreography was "a strand of seamless silk", as Dick Button used to say. Lynn was a skater's skater, and she became the skater that many young American women wanted to emulate. She was a joy to watch.
I had the privilege of seeing Janet compete at the World Professional Championship. She was the class of the field, and she easily won the title.
Janet skated with Ice Follies for several years, then left the show to get married. She has four sons. Occasionally she showed up as a judge at a pro skating event. She was a major star in Japan, and she was a special guest of the Japanese Olympic Committee at the 1998 Winter Olympics, which were held in Nagano.
I saw a recent profile of Janet Lynn, and, believe it or not, Janet is now 52 years old. She has gained a considerable amount of weight, too, but that smile is still there.
Janet has been quoted as saying, "My parents never pressured me to win skating competitions. The purpose of my skating was not to win medals. I believe that God gave me the talent to skate, and I wanted to express God's love by skating."
You are a special lady, Janet, and you were a very, very special skater!
She did have a wonderful smile. She also had great, deep edges and the most incredible flow across the ice. Together, those qualities gave a wonderful sense of ease to her skating. She really seemed to be floating and flying across the ice. She never looked like she was doing very difficult elements, even when she was.
Also, she was a skater who never "forgot" there was music playing. The movement and music were one. It's like you could turn off the sound and "see" the music. Her coach, Slavka Kahout, did her choreography and deserves big props there.
Also- she had 5 sons. ! I am that big a fan!
Last edited by SusanBeth; 08-31-2005 at 10:20 PM.
Janet Nowicki was from Chicago and skated in RockFORD. Slavka was married to Dick B.
Janet's skating was absolutely seamless. In the "Fire On Ice" television special that highlighted many of the top American women figure skaters from Tenley Albright through Michelle Kwan/Tara Lipinski, writer Christine Brennan was quoted as saying, "If Janet Lynn were skating today, she would be the most famous skater on the planet." Dorothy Hamill has often stated that, in her opinion, Janet was the greatest woman skater of all time - a beautiful synthesis of athleticism and artistry.
Originally Posted by SusanBeth
As a little kid, I saw her performance for Sapporo game on TV and just fell in love like so many other Japanese.
I did not know anything about Figure skate at that time but still I could tell Janet was very different from anyone else. The way she looked, moved and skated on ice was just out of this world. She was like a pixie from a fairy tale. Although Karen was powerful and Julie was elegant, it was Janet who captured everybody's heart. And of course, it was a huge mystery to everybody why that woman looked and skated like a cow won the game (sorry ).
After that performance, instantly she became a star and still people talked about Janet in Japan.
Over the years Dorothy has become a beautiful skater but she was a boring textbook-like skater to me especially compared to Janet when she won at 1976 game. Yet it was her who became a huge star in U.S. not Janet.
If it should take a Gold medal to be a star in U.S., it's saaaaaaddddd.
More than 30 years have passed since that memorable performance but there has never been like her. She is special.
Janet was forced to give up skating two years after she turned pro. She had begun experiencing asthma-like attacks and simply could not continue skating. She said that she would get to the last 30 seconds of her numbers and just couldn't exhale. She stopped skating completely, married, and had children.
Years later, they traced her breathing problem to an allergy and she started skating professionally again. This was in the early 80's. She was successful then. I know she won World Pros during that time. So her professional career was hampered by illness and not by a lack of popularity.
Tripping on the Podium
I saw Janet skate at Midwestern Championships in about 1964-1966 -- probably 1965. We were the same age and she was out there winning Novice Ladies (I think -- hard to remember exactly). She was amazing.
I remember my dad (who was also a skater) kept saying, "Remember that name, remember that name -- Janet Lynn -- Janet Lynn -- she is going to be something!! Wow!"
and they're still talking about her...
I think that a lot of Michelle Kwan's fans think she's a pretty big star without that OGM.
Originally Posted by bluelutz
I remember that Janet returned to pro skating at the age of 29 or so - around 1982, and she won the World Professional Championships. One of her winning routines was skated to "The Sound of Music". She skated like a dream, and it was as if she had not left the ice for five minutes, let alone several years.
Originally Posted by SusanBeth
Janet's pro career certainly was NOT hampered by a lack of popularity. Are you kidding? You must be. Janet was the darling of US skating for as long as she skated.
Janet was adored in Japan, following her bronze medal win at the 1972 Sapporo Olympics. Aside from her skating, the fact that Janet got right up, with a big smile on her face, after she fell on her long program flying sit spin, and continued on with her program, just melted the hearts of the Japanese fans. They were stunned and amazed that she could react so positively to a mistake.
I am confused! I was making the point that it WASN'T a lack of popularity that caused problems with her pro career. It wasn't an issue of medals or titles either. Lynn was held in as much esteem by her fans as Kwan is today. No doubt, Kwan's fans will still have a place in their heart for her in 30+ years too.
Originally Posted by SkateFan4Life
I'm sure that Janet's fans (of which I am one) will remember her with great esteem and affection for the rest of our lives. She truly was a special lady and a very special skater.
Originally Posted by SusanBeth