What’s an Olympic gold medal figure skater to do when the Games are gone? Easy, put your career on ice.
That’s what Katarina Witt has done--literally. For Brian Boitano it’s more a figure of speech.
Witt has followed her gold medal effort in Calgary with the highest paying professional skating contract ever. Gold medalist Boitano is still searching for something “unique” to do with his skating.
“It’s so much harder than it was before. I’m so busy. I have to do so many things,” Witt said prior to skating an exhibition in Paris. She received permission for the exhibition from “Holiday on Ice,” the show with which she signed a contract said to be worth over $3 million.
After the Olympics and world championships, she was on a skating tour that lasted well into June. She also had committments to host a rock concert in East Berlin, do a book signing tour plugging her autobiography in West Germany and tries to continue her acting studies in East Berlin where she lives with her boyfriend, a drummer in a rock band.
“Sometimes I miss having some more time for myself to go away and take off for a few days,” she said.
Boitano feels the same way.
“I have been on the road all but one month (since February). I just do so many different things,” Boitano said. “It’s difficult for me. I really don’t have time for my friends anymore.”
He has been on a constant cycle of receiving and giving awards as well as things like opening rinks.
He is finishing off a television special that will have Witt as a special guest star.
“Right now, the most energy is going into the TV special,” Boitano said. “It’s going to be called Brian Boitano’s Canvas of Ice. “
He and Witt used the opportunity of the exhibitions in Paris to tape some segments before flying to East Germany to do some more work together. The program is scheduled to air just before Christmas.
Unlike Witt, Boitano still has not signed a professional contract.
“I think a lot of people rest on their laurels when they turn professional. As a professional you don’t have to be better. When I turn professional, I want to make sure I am better and keep getting better,” he said.
“I want to be unique,” he said. “Maybe that’s another reason I haven’t turned professional.”
“I want to make sure it’s right for me. I love skating so much and it would be boring and I don’t want to lose my love for skating just to make money or do something like that,” Boitano said.
Witt feels somewhat the same way as she limited her appearances to five cities around Europe.
“I wanted to do something on the ice and keep the fun of doing something on the ice,” Witt said. “I really like the way it is now. I can go home and do different things.”
Despite her big contract and the luxurious life she lives, Witt doesn’t like being called a star.
“I’m not a star but I’m not like any other girl,” she said. “All the people around you make you a star. They keep telling you you’re a star.
“I did something on the ice that no one has done since Sonja Henie,” she said, referring to the gold medals she won in figure skating in 1984 and 1988. “But I don’t feel like a star. I’m really good in one thing but there are so many other things in life.”
Boitano also knows the burdens of being a celebrity.
“Ever since that moment (Calgary) life has been so different. It’s hard to spend time with people who recognize you. They expect a lot and deserve a lot because they’re great fans.”
“I want to spend time with them when they stop and talk to me but a lot of times you have to neglect your friends and that’s hard.”
“I am so busy now and life isn’t as much fun any more but I have a lot to be thankful for,” he said.
Future projects for both include another tour of the United States following next year’s world championships in Paris in March. “That will be the first time that professionals will be on the tour. I think that’s a signal,” Boitano said.
Usually the world tour is limited to the champions and top placers from the amateur world championships.
He also hopes for some more acting and TV specials.