Katarina amassed more figure skating titles at the time than anyone else in the history of the sport. In addition to her four world titles, she earned six successive European titles from 1983 onwards.
Her outstanding achievement at the 1988 Winter Games in Calgary, Alberta, when she became the first figure skater since Sonja Henie in the 1930s to retain an Olympic title, confirmed her status as one of the greatest skaters of all time, yet she will probably be remembered most for her overall athleticism, her charismatic appeal and her glamorous image on the ice.
She began skating at the age of five and as a nine-year-old her natural gifts were recognised by Jutta Müller, East Germany's premier skating coach. Under Müller's coaching, Katarina’s talents quickly developed. By the age of 14, she finished 10th in the 1980 World Championships and she won the first of her eight German titles the following year.
She won the silver medal in the 1982 European Championships and the next year secured the first of her six consecutive European titles. Katarina then burst into international stardom by taking the gold medal at the 1984 Winter Olympics in Sarajevo, Yugoslavia and she proceeded to dominate the figure skating world for the next five years, winning world titles in 1984, 1985, 1987 and 1988.
After so memorably retaining her Olympic title in Calgary in 1988, she turned professional and she was then unable to compete in the 1992 Winter Olympics in Albertville, France. However, she maintained her place in the public eye as a CBS television commentator.
When professional skaters were finally admitted into Olympic competition, she made a sentimental return to the ice at the 1994 Winter Games in Lillehammer, where she skated to the song ‘Where have all the flowers gone’, as a tribute to Sarajevo.
Katarina was awarded an Emmy for her performance in the film ‘Carmen on Ice’ and in 1994 she was awarded the ‘Golden Camera’ for her memorable Olympic comeback.