A Tribute to Janet Lynn
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. 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 comprised 60 percent of the overall score in 1968, with the long program counting for only 40 percent. You 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 Janet more of an edge. Janet fell twice in the 1973 Worlds short program, yet she rebounded with a strong long program, and she won the silver medal. The turned professional shortly thereafter and signed what was then the highest pro contract for a show skater.
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 first 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 shows up as a judge at a pro skating event, but other than that, she's "MIA" from the figure skating world.
I saw a recent profile of Janet Lynn, and, believe it or not, Janet will soon be 53 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."
Janet was a special guest of the Japanese Skating Federation during the Nagano games, and she spoke to the Japanese Olympic team, at their invitation.
Thanks for the memories, Janet!
I remember my grandmother, and my mom saying they didn't understand why Janet didn't win in 1972 (they didn't know much about ice skating and nothing at all about Figures). They said even the untrained eye could see she was a superior skater to Gold medallist Trixie Shuba and the Silver medallist from Canada-Karen Magnussen I think???
I remember I watched a very poignant piece about Janet and her Olympic Odyssey to Japan in 1972. They showed the fluffy during the '98 Games. The most moving moments for me was Janet writing "Peace and Love. Janet Lynn USA" on the wall of her room in the Olympic Village, and when Janet came back some time later, descending the airplane-stairs to a waiting crowd of seemingly a thousand Japanese fans. Wow. I don't remember her at all but I could see she was Magic and why she is a legend in the sport.
Last edited by ladysarahchatto; 02-13-2006 at 10:36 PM.
Janet Lynn will always be one of my favorite skaters (along
with John Curry and a handful of other unique artists)
Janet truly SKATED.
She had gorgeous edges, light and lyrical flow, effortless, flying footwork
and the most exquisite layback spin ever performed.
Whether she was doing a show program to "GOODMORNING, STARSHINE"
or her L'APRES-MIDI D'UN FAUN, she was pure light.
I saw her skate at BUFFALO NATIONALS, and numerous ICE CHIPS
performances in Boston when I was eleven years old. I was literally
in tears. (Same year John Misha Petkevich did his Martin Luther King
Free at Last program and there wasn't a dry eye in the whole arena...)
Those were the brilliant days of skating...The golden age when
an edge was an EDGE and the jumps soared rather than spun around in a blur.
Thanks for bringing up Janet.
Janet Lynn was a huge star in Japan, and part of the reason why was the way she handled her Olympic defeat. She skated her heart out at Sapporo but only managed to win the bronze medal. Yet she smiled and graciously accepted her medal. The following year (1973) she returned to Japan to compete in the first-ever World Professional Championships, which she won, and she was mobbed by fans at the airport and everywhere she went in Tokyo.
Originally Posted by ladysarahchatto
Janet's skating was so pure, so lovely, so magical!
Janet Lynn wore a shocking pink, high-necked dress for her Olympic long program. Her costume was entirely plain and without embellishment, and she skated her heart out at Sapporo.
Janet's coach, Slavka Kohout (sp?) married Dick Button shortly after the Olympics. They divorced some years later.
Karen Magnussen skated superiorly in 1973... she was brilliant at these World Championships.
Janet Lynn is considered by knowledgable skating enthusiasts to be one of the greatest skaters of all time and for good reason. She was a skater's skater and when she jumped she went straight up, and then straight down like a feather. Her flow over the ice was unmatched. Her obvious joy while skating has been matched only by Michelle Kwan. I hold her in the highest regard. She also has strong personal values and her life is centered around her family. She is a walking talking lesson for all skaters.
I don't understand that either Jstream. There has to be archival footage or tapes/films of the competitions (I've seen some for Fleming.) I guess she's not a big enough name but you would think some figure skating freak would try to get them together. Maybe someone could create a documentary.
I think USFSA should do a box set like 'Memories on Ice' but focused on specific skaters not the competitions. I think Peggy, Dorothy and Michelle would sell. As would Brian, Scott and Todd. Then they could throw in 2 on skaters we should know are great but haven't seen perform like Janet, Dick Button and Carol heiss. It would be greta if it were international but I don't know who woud have rights to all the differing footages.
BTW- was Kwiatkowski Polish?
Gadfly and Bon Vivant
I'm not Polish but I live in Poland and have never heard any name like Zajak (Polish spelling) is it a corruption of Zając ? Since Zając means 'hare' it would certainly be appropriate for the first jumping bean skater.
And don't be fooled by the statement that in Lynn's day figures counted for 60% of the total, this was before factored placements and the _margin_ between skaters was preserved (and figures scores always showed a lot more range than free skating) so it was something like 80%. Schuba (the Midori Ito of figures) was 7th in the free skate IIRC and won in Sapporo handily.
After the short program was introduced they were still a lot more than the 30% they were on paper (at least 50%), it was only after factored placements were introduced in 1981 that they weren't the single most important part of the competition.
And then of course factored placements were maintained after figures were eliminated and they didn't make so much sense anymore ...
Thank you for the tribute to Janet. She was the first skater who moved me to tears with every program she skated. I get teary eyed now, just remembering.
Christine Brennan has been quoted as saying, "If Janet Lynn was skating today, should would be the most famous skater in the planet". Janet had that magical quality, the synthesis of artistry and athleticism, and the wonderful ice personality that all made her such a joy to watch.
Originally Posted by JillLaQ
[QUOTE=Mafke]I'm not Polish but I live in Poland and have never heard any name like Zajak (Polish spelling) is it a corruption of Zając ? Since Zając means 'hare' it would certainly be appropriate for the first jumping bean skater.
I didn't just take a guess that Elaine ZAYAK is Polish. I learned it for a fact - from what source, I don't remember.