Gaby Seyfert: First Star of Eastern Germany

Gaby Seyfert (right) at Worlds 1966

By Olga Fluegge,
special to World Figure Skating

Figure Skating History

Gaby Seyfert debuted at the European Championships in 1961 at the age of 12. Despite the low final placement, she had attracted the attention of specialists, including Carlo Fassi, thanks to her excellent free skating program. Intensive work under the direction of the mother-coach Jutta Müller in Chemnitz brought a big success. A few years later in 1966 Gaby won the first silver medals for the GDR (The German Democratic Republic or so-called Eastern Germany) at the European and World Championships.

She becomes a kind of visiting card of her country, which in the 60th has not yet been recognized by a number of Western countries. Seybert was notable for the athletic and at the same time very elegant style of skating. She had included combinations of double cascades into her programs (it was a high difficulty level in 60’s) and became the first lady who executed a triple loop.

Gaby Seyfert, on the highs of popularity

Her decision to finish the career just before the Sapporo Olympics in 1970 was unexpected. Being a two-time world champion and one of the contenders for the Olympic gold in Sapporo Gaby Seyfert said that she would no longer compete and that she already reached all her sports goals. Another reason was the desire to arrange a personal life. Persuasion of the coach and federation did not help. In the spring of 1970 the U.S. show “Holiday on Ice” offered Gaby a contract in the amount of 1 million DM ( Deutsche Mark was the currency of Germany) annually. It was a fantastic sum in those days. For example, the same amount earned the highest paid actress in Europe Romy Schneider.

At her request to allow to go to work abroad with a note that a big part of her earnings will be transfered to the GDR skating federation Gaby received refusal. GDR citizens were not allowed to decide their own destiny. In 1970 Gaby Seyfert starts to train children and youth. Among her students was a star of Chemnitz skating school Anett Pötzsch. After several years of coaching work the club management and federation, without the assessment og Gaby’s coaching achievements, decided to make a change. The new coach of Pötzsch became Jutta Müller, the mother of Seyfert.

Gaby Seyfert as choreographer in ice show

After this story Gabi Seyfert begins an entirely new life finishing a linguistic faculty and working in the Chamber of Commerce. But the love of figure skating takes its toll and in the second half of the 80th she creates an ice revue troupe in Berlin Friedrichstadt Palast working as a soloist, choreographer and organizer. In the united Germany her activity were associated with the real estate management.

1968 World Championships – Gaby Seyfert’s FS and her triple loop

 

Sources:

Gaby Seyfert: Da muss noch was sein. 1998, Berlin;
Martin, Martina: Chemnitzer Eissterne. 2010, Chemnitz.

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