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Saturday Night at the Movies

Hosted by Nick Pilgrim

According to Jirina Ribbins, there may have been more talented skaters, but no tougher ladies' singles competitor of her generation than East Germany's Katarina Witt.

The four-time World and European Champion could switch it on when she needed to, defeating (and allegedly psyching out) a slew of rivals to win time and again.

In the latter stages of her eligible career, Witt's only threat came from an athlete equal in audacity.

In fact, when rising star, Debi Thomas, the 1986 U.S. champion captured her first national crown, she proclaimed that: "Katarina does what she has to do, and she blows everyone away. But I know that if I go out and do what I have to do I can take her title from her."

At the World Championships in Geneva one month later, that's exactly what Thomas did.

Two years later in the lead up to the Olympic Winter Games, Witt and Thomas could not have given global media agencies a more delicious set-up.

Both skaters chose to skate to George Bizet's most famous opera "Carmen." When each learned this startling news, neither would consider a change. From their stubborn determination to perform to the same piece of music the "Battle of the Carmens" was born.

However Witt, with her catwalk model looks, and Thomas, with her driving athleticism, would apply their respective strengths to create two very interpretations.

Though Witt won and Thomas came third, the Games would be a disappointment with neither athlete skating up to their true potential. However, Witt and Thomas both laid down stunning performances several weeks prior to the Olympic Games at Europeans and U.S. nationals, respectively.

Witt: 1988 European Championships

Thomas: 1988 U.S. Championships


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