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Books

Katarina Witt: The glitter and the gold

The German figure skating sensation Katarina Witt celebrates her 50th birthday on December 3 and has recently released a book on her life. Discover the highlights of her career in pictures.

"Time" magazine once described her as "the most beautiful face of socialism." Katarina Witt made an impression on the world like no other East German female athlete.

A new coffee-table book documents how the pretty princess on ice became a world champion of figure skating. The 300 photos in the book not only depict her well-known victorious moments, some of them also give insight into her private life.

The book looks a bit like a scrapbook, where large portraits alternate with collages. Witt adds comments under the pictures in her own handwriting. For example, under a photo of herself wearing skates and a silver suite, she writes: "Would have instantly posted this one on Facebook today."

Katarina Witt, Copyright: Edel Books/dpa

This picture would have gone viral if the Internet existed back then

In the book, she remembers her role in "Carmen on Ice." She was in Seville filming the movie when the Berlin Wall came down. She also comments on the "merciless discipline and perfection" of being a professional athlete in East Germany. She also thanks her trainer, Jutta Müller - even though she often gave her a hard time.

She can now see the difficult training which led her to become a world champion in a positive light: "The greater the pressure and the more I stood with my back to the wall, the better I was," she writes.

One photo shows both of them together just before a competition. Witt writes: "This was a very important ritual. Mrs. Müller would put her hand on mine to give me strength at the very last moment."

She enjoyed being in the spotlight and being admired by everyone, which is why she found it difficult to retire. She stopped performing as a professional skater in 2008. After that, she worked as a talk show host and was also on the board promoting Munich's Olympic bid for the Winter Games in 2018. She was very disappointed when that project didn't come through.

Meanwhile, she has learned to enjoy the "small, unvarnished moments, away from the red carpet."

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