The Ultimate 50
22. Linda Fratianne
The only current picture we could find of Linda was from a 75th-anniversary event for the Los Angeles Figure Skating Club in 2008. This photo from Lifeskate shows little change in her hair from recent years - shoulder-length, and appearing to be dangerously loose near her right eye. How undefeatable could Linda's hair be?
Sadly, our latest research found she wasn't unbeaten after all. This is how her hair looked after a multiple-jump during the free skate at the 1977 World Figure Skating Championship. Linda turned to her left, which made a bounce toward her eyes especially risky.
Linda won the 1977 world title, despite a fall to the ice in the first 45 seconds. Check the YouTube clip, and you'll see this different sort of fall at about the 58-second mark. We admittedly were shocked by this discovery, as we'd never before seen her hair failing to hold under pressure. Linda apparently added more spray or made an adjustment in her cut for the 1980 Winter Olympics, because we still don't recall her hair dropping there.
We didn't realize Linda had remarried until we prepared this update - but she apparently didn't make any hair adjustments for the big occasion. This July 2007 picture from fellow Sun Valley skater Craig Heath is the most recent we could find. The hair still is quite thick and at shoulder-length, likely using some spray to keep the right side turned up and off the eye. After all these years, Fratianne continues to use great skill to keep her Super-Hair undefeated.
And how about this picture -- a rare view of champion skaters with Super-Hair side-by-side. This was taken in 1976, as Dorothy Hamill went for Olympic gold with Fratianne as her "understudy" preparing for Lake Placid four years later. It took more than 25 years to determine it once and for all, but time has shown Fratianne's outstanding hair has lasted longer. (We told you she deserved to be ranked higher on this list.)
For more pictures and videos of Fratianne in action on the ice, check the "vault" of Sports Illustrated.
Hooray for YouTube! In May 2006, someone posted Linda's complete long skate at the 1980 Lake Placid Winter Olympics. Now you can see her amazing style in action through double and triple jumps -- flexing a good bit, but overall never coming loose in a high-pressure situation. (This "perfect" style was shot off the screen, just before her performance began.)
Fratianne returned to New York state in February 2005 for the 25th anniversary of the Lake Placid games -- and even did some skating. This action picture from the New York state web site shows her hair at shoulder-length, and still with some bangs for protection. She may be bending her head back to keep the style from blowing in her face. But all in all, her hair continues to appear unbeatable on the ice.
Yet look at this picture from a few weeks later, at the premiere of the movie "Ice Princess" -- with bangs which are longer and potentially dangerous in terms of keeping in place. As far as we know, her unbeaten hair run goes on. But she probably has to be very careful with that cut amid the wind of Sun Valley.
Linda doesn't make many public appearances outside Sun Valley these days, although she remains "head pro" of the club there. This March 2003 skate photographed by Tracy Marks shows what appears still to be longer hair, only pinned up for the ice. Yet notice how close strands seem to come on the right side -- quite daring for her.
For a better look at this hair from several angles in this very performance, check the strangely-named web site Frogs on Ice; their copyright rules were a bit tougher for us. And Hair Fans encourage Fratianne to keep the longer style, based on a 2002 Cutting-Edge Hair News poll.
This photo may come as a big surprise to people who haven't seen Linda in years. Our deep thanks to her husband in Idaho, for sending us several recent pictures of an attractive longer look. It shows off the thickness of her hair very well, yet has a touch of bangs to keep the face clear.
Here's a more close-up view of the style, apparently taken at the same time. The thick quality is even more obvious here -- but we're left with a bit of mystery about how far across the bangs go. Compared with her Olympic style, perhaps the biggest adjustment she's had to make is do the little head-leaning, which keeps the right-side hair at a safe distance.
(Of course, what we really want to see is Linda on the ice with her hair like this. She still skates and coaches skaters, at a resort in Sun Valley.)
Just for old times' sake, we also found this - a series of photos from the early 1980s, for an exercise album Linda made after the Lake Placid Winter Games. (We don't believe a video was taped for this.) The classic short style is a bit longer, and a lot looser. Yet the hair stays away from the eyes -- through skillful preparation (we think there's some added right-side curl here), as well as careful head-bending to throw the hair back.
We're sad to report online galleries of this great head of hair are almost nonexistent. The best we could find is a couple of pictures from Skating Source. We believe this woman's styles are too good to let escape into history.
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