Zayak, Elaine (1965—)

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Zayak, Elaine (1965—)

American skater. Born in Paramus, New Jersey, on April 12, 1965.

Won several national championships, including the U.S. Nationals (1981); won World championship (1982); known for the Zayak Rule which limits the repetitions of triples in the freestyle skating program.

For decades, women had fought tradition to skate more athletically, performing more leaps and jumps. An athletic skater, Elaine Zayak was so exuberant that she was a threat in the traditional world of ice skating. Thus, the Zayak Rule was passed which limited the repetitions of triples in the freestyle program. As has always been the case, women skaters paid little attention to attempts to curtail them and inevitably they jumped higher and farther. Elaine Zayak was Junior National champion in 1979 and won the national title in 1981 when she was 15. Her four-minute freestyle program featured 18 jumps, seven of them triples. In 1982, she was the World champion. A year later, she had to withdraw from competition because of a stress fracture in her right leg. When she began skating four months later, Zayak had gained 20 pounds and was wary of injury. Soon after her return to the ice, however, she lost the extra weight and her confidence returned. She won the bronze in the 1984 National championships which ensured her a place on the Olympic team. Although Zayak excelled in freestyle, the compulsory figures, which contribute points to a skater's final score, were not her strength. She failed to place among the top contenders in Sarajevo. In the 1984 World championships, Zayak won a bronze medal and then joined the Ice Capades.


Markel, Robert, Nancy Brooks, and Susan Markel. For the Record: Women in Sports. NY: World Almanac, 1985.

Karin Loewen Haag , Athens, Georgia

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Zayak, Elaine (1965—)

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