Jutta Müller died at the age of 94. The former figure skating coach ran a strict regime – which paid off in numerous medals. Former students like Olympic champion Katharina Witt remember an ambitious but close caregiver.
Jutta Müller was one of the most dazzling and successful trainers in GDR sports. Loyalty to the line and SED membership did not stop the “Iron Lady” of figure skating from celebrating her successes in arenas around the world wearing a fur coat alongside her skating greats Katarina Witt, Anett Pötzsch, Jan Hoffmann and her daughter Gaby Seyfert. Jutta Müller’s unique record is 57 medals at the European Championships, World Championships and Olympic Games.
At the age of 94, she died on Thursday in a nursing home near Berlin. Her daughter confirmed this to the German Press Agency. The MDR had previously reported on it. “With her, the figure skating world is losing one of the greatest coaching personalities and is shocked by her death,” said Andreas Wagner, President of the German Ice Skating Union.
“She recognized talent and was driven not to waste it,” Witt once said of her strict and authoritarian coach. “There was certainly a lot of her own ambition there. But she also felt responsible for getting the best out of it together with the athlete.” She was a passionate trainer who “actually only thought about figure skating and left nothing to chance.”
Witt watched over her teacher until the end, even though she was always a close reference person for her. “Everyone asks us, ‘You still say you?’ Yes, I always will! For me, Ms. Müller is always Ms. Müller. Out of respect! And yet she is very close to me,” Witt said on the trainer’s 90th birthday.
“She embodied the successes of the GDR”
Jutta Müller, who was born in Chemnitz, led Witt to Olympic victories in 1984 and 1988, as did Anett Pötzsch in 1980. She also won Olympic silver and titles at the European and World Championships with her daughter Gaby Seyfert and Jan Hoffmann. “Without her I would never have achieved this world career,” said Witt.
Pötzsch also has a lot to thank Müller for. Although she was considered the “Iron Lady,” she was also close to her athletes and listened to their concerns. “What she was able to convey in any case was having goals, perseverance and discipline. You can benefit from this in difficult phases to this day because you have already done it once,” Pötzsch told the dpa on Thursday and added: ” I’m grateful to have had her by my side.”
“I asked for a lot and gave a lot,” Müller, who began her coaching career at SC Karl-Marx-Stadt in 1955, once said. “I took care of everything. We were a unit.” Witt was strong enough to grow as a personality alongside the always elegantly dressed trainer with the black bun. Gaby Seyfert found it more difficult. She didn’t always feel comfortable in the role of daughter alongside the strong coach of the century.
“She embodied these successes of the GDR, she knew how to produce success,” said Udo Dönsdorf, former DEU sports director, about Jutta Müller. “And the GDR system was made for her and offered her every opportunity because figure skating had a dazzling touch.”
Jutta Müller regretted the end of the GDR
Jutta Müller herself became the GDR champion in pair skating. The city of Chemnitz made her an honorary citizen, and in 2004 she was inducted into the figure skaters’ hall of fame. Even after her coaching career ended, she was still drawn to the hall of the Chemnitz ice skating club, the former SC Karl-Marx-Stadt. The five-time pair skating world champions Aljona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy, whom she often visited during training, were particularly close to her heart. And when Savchenko had problems with the triple salchow, it was Müller who gave her advice.
After reunification, Müller, who was perceived as very close to the SED regime, was no longer in the spotlight. The former teacher of German, music, mathematics and sports joined the party in 1946. “The GDR system couldn’t be taken over. That’s clear to me now. But it could have continued anyway. I was actually desperate at the time that all this super-young work could no longer exist overnight,” said Jutta Müller later “Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung”.
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