Anna's strength as a free skater wasn't the only thing that made her competitors take notice. Keeping in mind that this was during Carol Heiss' era where 'young ladies' were expected more than ever to uphold a 'perfect ice princess' image, she didn't quite fit the mould. While training in West Germany, she introduced Olympic Silver Medallist Marika Kilius to smoking cigarettes. She also found her name in the West German newspapers and courts. The February 24, 1960 issue of "Der Spiegel" purported that after a twenty year old Berliner, Manfred Pfaff, had a liason with seventeen year old Anna, he was beaten by her father and her coach Erich Zeller. Pfaff filed a criminal complaint against Zeller, saying he'd beat Anna during the incident as well. Despite the press attention, 1960 was her most successful year as a competitor. After winning her fourth Italian title, she placed in the top ten at the European Championships, Olympics and World Championships. So impressive was her free skating that year in Squaw Valley that on February 21, 1960 the Italian newspaper La Stampa-Domenica called her style "very whimsical and elegant" and "quite different from what they are accustomed to [in] Europe."
Immediately after the 1960 World Championships in Vancouver, Anna started touring with Holiday On Ice in Europe. During her six year stint with the company in Europe, she often played second fiddle to skaters like Alain Giletti and Sjoukje Dijkstra but after winning the 1965 World Professional Figure Skating Championships at Wembley, people really started finally recognizing her star potential.
Anna joined Holiday On Ice's U.S. tour in 1966 and in America found far more recognition and respect touring alongside skaters like Ronnie Robertson, Eva Romanová and Pavel Roman, ice comic Jimmy Peacock and World Professional Champions Marianne Althamer and Karl-Heinz Kramer. After a brief return to the European tour, where she again took second billing - this time to Olympic Bronze Medallist Hana Mašková - she returned to the America for good as a featured soloist on Holiday On Ice. On the tour, she also skated pairs with Gary Visconti; one of her co-stars was Marei Langenbein, the mother of future British Champion Charlene von Saher.
Tiring of being shipped back and forth across the ocean, Anna left Holiday On Ice and joined Ice Capades, skating for several years in the seventies alongside skaters like Karen Magnussen, Jojo Starbuck and Ken Shelley, Tommy Litz, Linda Villela, Billy Chapel, Freddie Trenkler, Sashi Kuchiki and Melissa Militano and Johnny Johns. It was while she was with the Ice Capades that she met her husband Jules Mayeur, a technician with the show. They travelled together while on tour, living the 'gypsy life' in a thirty one foot motor home.
Not only did Anna live a nomadic 'gypsy life' while on tour, she portrayed a gypsy princess on the ice as well. Her programs were always described as very interpretive. She skated as a gypsy princess, a clown and even a cat, skating to Les Baxter's "Jungalero" on the 1968 Holiday On Ice tour. In the September 18, 1968 issue of The Norwalk Hour she mused, "I cannot just skate. I must skate like a cat - feel like a cat, become a cat. You must think your part. Ballet training helps tremendously in this way." After her own performing career ended, she actually worked as a skating coach for the Ice Capades when her husband was promoted to technical director in the early eighties.
Photo courtesy "Winter Sports" magazine
In reading many interviews with Anna, it became absolutely apparent that she was a remarkably fascinating woman. She spoke English, Italian, French, German and Spanish and dreamed of becoming an interpreter and building a forty foot sail boat and just sailing around the world. She expounded upon the virtues of dance training and the joys of getting involved in the sport. Her biggest passion though? Cooking. In the August 31, 1975 issue of The San Antonio Express, she explained, "I cook everything from lasagna to beef stroganoff to chow mein and sometimes I combine the entrees. It's my own concoction of Chinese-Italian cooking." In an article in The Miami News on March 27, 1969, she even shared her recipe for Veal Cutlets Milanese, which I'm including below.
Although she sadly passed away in 1997 at the age of fifty four, there's no denying that Anna's story is unique and worthy of appreciation. From her late start and incredibly quick rise in the standings as an amateur skater to the 'bad girl' stories to touring on two continents, her love for cooking and interpretive style, she was clearly one cool cat both on and off the ice. Although the photos and videos may be grainy, her exuberance jumps out at you and becomes as crystal clear as a freshly resurfaced sheet of ice.
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