Witt and Boitano say skating success was worth any sacrifices

November 21, 1990|By Peter Krask | Peter Krask,Special to The Evening Sun

Courtney Winer, an 8-year-old student at Pot Spring Elementary School in Timonium, cut right to the chase.

She used The Evening Sun's call-in line to ask a simple question of celebrity ice-skaters Brian Boitano and Katarina Witt: "Has skating been worth the things you gave up in your childhood and teen-age years?"

Boitano and Witt, who brought their show, "Skating II," to the Baltimore Arena last night, more than agreed that their sacrifices have been well-rewarded. Boitano is even reluctant to admit that he made sacrifices.

"At that age, 8 1/2 , I made the decision to skate," he said. "If I wanted to do other things, I would have. If anything, skating helped me to grow up faster."

Witt, born in then-East Germany, elaborated further.

"I did not give up my childhood. When so many other children do not have opportunities, I was lucky to have a goal to reach towards. Brian and I were lucky that we were successful."

It takes more than luck, however, to win gold medals in the Olympics, which both skaters have done. Boitano won his in the 1988 Winter Games in Calgary, Canada. Witt has two gold medals: one from the 1984 Olympics and the other from the 1988 games.

Another caller, Kevin Kuhn, 13, from Old Court Middle School in Randallstown asked: "What was it like to be in the Olympics and stand there, receiving gold medals, while the crowd was cheering your name?"

Pausing for a minute, Witt thought and then rushed with her answer.

"It was wonderful. It's a thrill to win one medal, but extra special to be there twice. The attention of the world is focused on you and it makes you so proud."

Boitano didn't hesitate with his answer.

"At that one moment," he said, "I felt like I was the whole country. You become not only a representative, but a symbol as well. The best part was being so close to the United States and having so many Americans there to share the victory."

Two other callers, both young women, had questions only for Witt, although one added, "No offense, Brian."

Katie Newhart, 16, from C. Milton Wright High School in Bel Air, wanted to know how the reunification of Germany has affected Witt's career.

"I have so much freedom now," Witt said. "Now I can make my own decisions without worrying about interference from the East German Sports Federation. It's great."

The other caller, a very young anonymous one, was curious about the beginnings of Witt's career.

Witt explained that "when I was 5 and in kindergarten, there was pTC an ice-skating rink next to the school. We would always go and watch the skaters on our lunch break. One day, I asked my parents to take me skating."

The rest, as they say, is indeed history.

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