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My first European Championship in Zagreb 1979

In 1979, at the age of 13, I participated in my first big international Figure Skating Championship in Zagreb, an experience I will, of course, never forget.  

The European Championship in Zagreb

As the youngest medal winner in the GDR Championship, I took third place and qualified for my very first European Figure Skating Championship, to be held in Zagreb.

The European Championship is an annual sporting event, during which figure skaters vie for the title of the European Champion. Titles are given in the categories: men and women's singles, pair skating and ice dancing. This was the first year I attended this big and very important event in which I was to participate many times in the years to come, and to win as well. This, however, I did not yet know.

The European Championship in Zagreb – a Jump Start

Of course, as a figure skater, I know that one must gradually work one's way up and approach one's goal - the goal of winning, like Anett Pötzsch did at the European Championship in Zagreb in 1979 for the third time.

But I am just 13 and still the youngest to participate. I still have short hair and perform my freestyle in a dress I borrowed from Anett Pötzsch. Hey, I think I have nothing to lose here. Thus, I set out in full swing, beaming with joy and with enough chutzpah to take on the big guys. Following the compulsories, I was in 18th place, but gained some attention by completing four triple jumps during my freestyle performance, unlike the favorites, who, feeling the pressure that evening completed their freestyles with only one triple jump. I take 7th place in this category and finish at 14.

One year later, the second time I participated in the European Championship in Göteborg, was one of the most defining moments for me, as I stood by the rink and watched the winner Anett Pötzsch, who trained with my group under Jutta Müller, as she received her 4th gold medal. One thing was clear at that moment: I wanted to stand on the top step of the podium one day, too!

But here in Zagreb I am just 13, and I know it's going to be a long hard road. 

Copyright Katarina Witt