Dead at 84, Alena Vrzáňová, Czech figure skater, World champion (1949, 1950) and European champion.
Prague: Former world champion Alena ‘Aja’ Vrzanova, who pioneered the double Lutz jump and defected from communist Czechoslovakia, died on Thursday at the age of 84, the country’s figure skating federation announced.
Born on May 16, 1931, Vrzanova, who preferred the name “Aja” to Alena, won the world title in 1949 in Paris and 1950 in London.
After that second triumph, she fled the Communist regime in Prague and settled in the United States, where she became a mentor to future Czech exiles film director Milos Forman and tennis star Martina Navratilova.
In the US, she became a star of ice shows, Ice Follies and Ice Capades under the name of Aja Zanova after many fans found her surname too difficult to pronounce.