One of my all-time favorite skaters was Janet Lynn. She burst onto the scene at the 1968 US Nationals and won the bronze medal at the age of 14. Lynn shocked many people by landing a triple salchow - a jump that very few women attempted at that time. Janet then won five consecutive US titles, the World bronze and Olympic bronze medals in 1972, and the World silver medal in 1973.
What I remember the most about Janet is the way she skated - or floated - across the ice. She wore a smile that reached to the top of the arena, and she seemed to wrap the audience around her arms as she skated. She was technically brilliant and also artistic. Had it not been for the compulsory school figures, which were her weakness, Janet probably would have won at least one World title, and possibly the Olympic gold medal of 1972.
When Janet won the Olympic bronze medal in 1972 in Sapporo, Japan, she astounded the audience by smiling after she fell on her flying sit spin. The Japanese audience fell in love with her, and she was flooded with telegrams and fan letters. She returned to Japan the following year for a triumphant tour and one competitive performance - the first-ever World Professional Figure Skating Championships, which was held in Tokyo.
Janet was deeply religious and always said that she viewed her skating as a way to express God's love on the ice. Her parents never pressured her to win competitions - they wanted her to skate for the love of skating, which she certainly did.
I had the pleasure of seeing Janet Lynn skate in person many years ago at a professional competition. She was magnificent. As she skated, the audience sat in rapture, and when she finished, the audience exploded in a loud ovation.
Janet was invited to Nagano in 1998 as a guest of the Japanese Skating Federation, and she addressed this group prior to the Olympics. People mobbed her wherever she went.
One of the nicest things about Janet Lynn, IMHO, was her humble, down-to-earth personality. There was no showboating, no self-promotion, no bad behavior. She was sweet, hard-working, and a gracious sportswoman who brought honor to herself, her family, her country, and her sport.