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, with the long program counting for only 40 percent. 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 won the 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 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 recently turned 50. 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."