1982 WC FP - Elaine Zayak (USA)

1982 WC FP - Elaine Zayak (USA)

1982 World Championships, long program

Elaine Zayak (b. 1965) is a former American ladies figure skater. She won the Junior World Championships in 1979, the United States National title for senior ladies in 1981 and the World title in 1982. She placed 6th at the 1984 Olympic Games.


At age two, Zayak lost three toes on her left foot in an accident. On the advice of her doctors, she began figure skating as physical therapy, but her injury was not generally known to the skating world during her amateur career. Her left boot was stabilized with a wood mold to compensate for the irregularity in the shape of the foot. An excellent student, she was awarded the Dial Award for the national high-school scholar-athlete of the year in 1982.

Skating CareerEdit

Zayak was coached by Peter Burrows and Marylynn Gelderman throughout both her amateur and professional careers.

She was the first woman to consistently land many triple jumps in her programs. At the 1982 World Championships, she landed 6 triple jumps to win the title, but 4 of them were triple toe loops. While she also had triple salchow and loop jumps in her repertoire, they were less consistent. In 1982, shortly after she won her world title, the ISU Congress made a new rule which states that a skater may not perform the same kind of triple jump more than twice, and one of the two triples must be incorporated into a combination or sequence. The rule, which still exists, encouraged skaters to display a greater variety of skills. Although Zayak was not the only skater at the time who repeated the same jump to increase her technical content, the rule became known as the "Zayak Rule".

Although she continued to compete for two more years, Zayak was unable to repeat her world title, due to poor placements in the Figures portion of the competitions. She turned professional after the 1984 World Championships and toured for two years with the Ice Capades.

In 1993, Zayak was the only U.S. female singles skater to reinstate to eligible status in an attempt to make the Olympic team. While she was unsuccessful at attaining this goal, placing fourth in the U.S. Championships, the members of the skating community were elated with her skating performance, which included difficult triple jumps she had not completed in a decade. She was named an alternate for the Olympic Games.

Zayak was inducted into the U.S. Figure Skating Hall of Fame in 2003 and the New Jersey Sports Hall of Fame in 2004. In 2013, she was elected into the National Polish-American Sports Hall of Fame.

Currently, she teaches figure skating at the Ice House in Hackensack, New Jersey, and is a spokeswoman for U.S. Figure Skating.

Competitive highlightsEdit

Event 1978–79 1979–80 1980–81 1981–82 1982–83 1983–84 1993–94
Winter Olympics 6th
World Champ. 11th 2nd 1st WD 3rd
Skate America 2nd
Skate Canada 1st
St. Ivel International 1st
Prague Skate 1st
International Challenge Cup 2nd 2nd
International: Junior
Junior Worlds 1st
U.S. Championships 4th 1st 3rd 2nd 3rd 4th
WD = Withdrew


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