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Lynn, Janet (1953—)

Lynn, Janet (1953—)

American figure skater who won five national championships. Born Janet Lynn Nowicki on April 6, 1953, in Chicago, Illinois; daughter of Florian Walter Nowicki and Ethelyne (Gehrke) Nowicki; attended Rockford College, 1972.

Made the U.S. Olympic team at age 14 (1968); won the U.S. national championship (1969, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1973); won a bronze medal at the Sapporo Olympics (1972); was a silver medalist at the World figure-skating championships (1973); obtained a three-year contract for $1.4 million with Shipstad and Johnson Ice Follies, becoming the highest paid woman athlete at that time.

Janet Lynn was one of the first women to become an athletic superstar; her $1.4 million three-year contract with Shipstad and Johnson Ice Follies was the most lucrative deal signed by any woman athlete up to that time.

Born Janet Lynn Nowicki in Chicago in 1953, Lynn began to skate at age two-and-a-half on a southwest Chicago pond; by the end of her first afternoon, she could skate backwards. Before long, her parents switched her from dreaded dancing lessons to longed-for skating lessons. By age four, when she had learned all her teacher could offer, her parents moved to Rockford, Illinois, so that she could study with skating pro Slavka Kohout at the Wagon Wheel resort. It was Kohout who suggested that Lynn use her first and second names professionally.

Lynn began to win competitions and captured the national junior title when she was 12. At 14, she made the U.S. Olympic team, but did not place. The next year, she won her first U.S. national championship; she would place first in 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972, and 1973. In 1972, Lynn competed in her second Olympics in Sapporo, Japan. Aware that she was weak in the compulsory school figures, she had stuck with a grueling five-hour-a-day practice schedule before the games, but it was not enough. She was seriously behind in points after the compulsories. Though Lynn seemed nervous during her the free-skating program, she enchanted on-lookers with her talent and dazzling smile and won the bronze medal. (Beatrix Schuba walked off with the gold medal.)

In 1973, Lynn was second in the World championships. The following year, at age 21, she decided she had had enough of the pressure of competition and left competitive skating to star in the Ice Follies.


Hollander, Phyllis. 100 Greatest Women in Sports. NY: Grosset & Dunlap, 1976.

Moran, Malcolm. "Life Is Returning Janet Lynn's Smile," in The New York Times Biographical Service. November 1982, p. 1498.

Karin L. Haag , Athens, Georgia

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