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Elaine Zayak - World and National Figure Skating Champion


Elaine Zayak - 1982 World Figure Skating Champion

Elaine Zayak - 1982 World Figure Skating Champion

Photo by Chris Cole - Getty Images

World and National Figure Skating Champion:

Elaine Zayak was the 1981 U.S. Figure Skating National Champion and the 1982 World Figure Skating Champion.

The "Zayak Rule" Changed Figure Skating:

Zayak was the first female figure skater to land many triple jumps in her skating programs. At the 1982 World Figure Skating Championships, she won the title because she landed six triple jumps in her long program.

The informally known "Zayak Rule," was created because of Elaine Zayak. The rule states that a competitor may not repeat a triple jump more than twice, and after the first triple jump is performed, repeated triple jumps must be done in combination or in a sequence.

Date of Birth:

April 4, 1965

Place of Birth:

Paramus, New Jersey

Coaches and Skating Club:

Zayak was coached by Peter Burrows and Marylynn Gelderman. She represented the Skating Club of New York.

Competitive Highlights:

  • 1979 U.S. Junior Ladies Championships 1st
  • 1979 World Junior Championships 1st
  • 1980 U.S. Senior Ladies Championships 4th
  • 1980 World Championships 11th
  • 1980 Skate Canada 1st
  • 1980 Skate Prague 1st
  • 1981 U.S. Senior Ladies Championships 1st
  • 1981 World Championships 2nd
  • 1982 U.S. Senior Ladies Championships 3rd
  • 1982 World Championships 1st
  • 1982 St. Ivel International 1st
  • 1983 U.S. Senior Ladies Championships 2nd
  • 1984 U.S. Senior Ladies Championships 3rd
  • 1984 Olympic Winter Games 6th
  • 1984 World Championships 3rd

After the 1984 Olympics:

After the 1984 Winter Olympics, Elaine Zayak competed professionally. She also performed in professional ice shows.

  • 1984 World Professional Championships 2nd
  • 1985 World Professional Championships 4th
  • 1986 World Professional Championships 4th
  • 1987 World Professional Championships 2nd
  • 1988 World Professional Championships 5th
  • 1989 World Professional Championships 4th

Returned to Amateur Competition in 1994:

In 1993, Elaine Zayak reinstated to eligible status, so she could try out for the 1994 Olympics. She didn't qualify for that Olympics, but was named an alternate.

Secret Handicap:

When Zayak was two years old, she lost part of her left foot in a lawn mower accident. She began ice skating as part of a physical therapy program. Throughout her competitive figure skating career, she kept her handicap a secret. Her left boot was stabilized with a wood mold to compensate for the missing toes and half of her left foot.

Elaine Zayak Today:

Zayak is married and has a son. She teaches ice skating in Hackensack, New Jersey.


Elaine Zayak was inducted into the U.S. Figure Skating Hall of Fame in 2003, and the New Jersey Sports Hall of Fame in 2004.

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