Did you notice last week at the 2008 U.S. Figure Skating Championships, that the top ladies (especially the 14 and 15 year olds) were doing the Biellmann Spin or some variation of it, as though it was a required element? I wonder if they realized that the spin is named after Swiss skater Denise Biellmann, who, at age 45, still skates professionally and was one of the best jumpers and spinners during her amateur and professional career. In fact, Denise was the first woman to successfully land a triple Lutz in competition, at the 1978 European Championships.
The Biellmann Spin is a spin where the skater does a one-foot spin while holding the other foot extended over their head and behind them, forming a teardrop shape with the body. [see top left] Goes without saying that you need incredible flexibility and spinning ability. Due to its popularity, the Biellmann Spin is now part of the International Skating Union judging system. Wouldn't it be amazing to know that a spin that is named after you will live on forever and in the history books?
Denise was a three-time Swiss national champion (1979-1981), the 1981 European and World Champion, and came in fourth at the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, NY. After she retired from amateur competition in 1981 (after winning Worlds), she joined the professional circuit and was immensely popular with the fans. I remember watching the televised skating events, and Denise was the only female skater still doing triples and other difficult tricks. This is a strong lady!
Below is Denise performing at the 1996 Canadian Pros where she still performs her spin with ease and also shows the rest of us how to pull off wearing a bikini outfit (you'll see)...