Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Two-Time Olympic Champion Retires

BERLIN–Two-time Olympic champion Katarina Witt has ended her show career on ice with a final performance as Carmen – the role that accompanied her greatest triumph.

Witt drew thunderous applause in Hannover on Tuesday on the last night of her farewell tour, capping her six routines clad as Carmen as bowls of fire lit the rink.

"I have to say, honestly, that you prepare a tour like this and think of everything," Witt said. "Then I totally forgot to think of what I would say at the very end. Maybe just: Thank you."

The 42-year-old former East German, dubbed "the most beautiful face of socialism" by Time magazine, drew worldwide fame by beating American rival Debi Thomas at the end of the Cold War in a politically charged duel for the 1988 Olympic gold.

That was the springboard to a professional career for one of the most successful figure skaters ever in the United States and Europe. Tours with fellow gold medallist Brian Boitano and "Holiday on Ice" followed, along with an Emmy for the 1989 film "Carmen on Ice".

The contest at the Calgary Olympics against Thomas was dubbed the ``Battle of the Carmens," because both chose to skate their long program to Georges Bizet's opera "Carmen."

Witt prevailed and joined Sonja Henie as the only women figure skaters to defend their Olympic titles.

When she retired from competition, her medal haul also included golds from four world and six consecutive European championships.

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