October 2011: Figure Skating Champion Linda Fratianne

When Dorothy Hamill won a Winter Olympic gold medal in 1976, she made history in several ways. Not only for figure skating style, but hair style -- proving unpinned hair can stay in masterful shape and position through fast-moving routines. So the women following Hamill at the 1980 Winter Games in Lake Placid, New York had a very hard act to follow. Yet we think the main U.S. entry accomplished a lot....

LINDA FRATIANNE had to settle for the silver in Lake Placid. But when we compiled our Ultimate 50 list 20 years later of the greatest styles of the late 20th century, we placed her above Hamill for the incredible hold her short style had during competitions. Fratianne has taken great care with her hair in public since those games....

....but she primarily wears her hair longer nowadays. This example is from a full-page ad in the September 2011 issue of Glamour.

It took several years for us to secure an interview with Fratianne about her wonderful head of hair. She has a reputation for being on the private side. But thanks to a couple of go-betweens, this champion provided answers to our written questions from her base in Sun Valley, Idaho....

SUPER-HAIR: How would you describe your current hairstyle? How long have you had it this way?

LINDA FRATIANNE: I wear my hair long with lots of layers. I've had it this way for about ten years.

S-H: We know you've grown out the classic short cuts of your prime competitive figure skating years. Why did you choose to do that -- and have you decided on a favorite length?

LF: I liked my short haircut when I was competing, but when I turned professional and joined "Disney on Ice", I was ready for a change. Jon Buhek at Onyx Salon in Sherman Oaks, CA keeps my hair the perfect length, just below my shoulders, and keeps the look up to date and feminine.

S-H: You seem to have great thickness in your hair, which allows you to wear a variety of styles well. Does that run in your family?

LF: Yes, I'm full Italian and my whole family has very thick hair!

S-H: You made your Winter Olympic appearance at Lake Placid four years after Dorothy Hamill competed with her famous "wedge." Did you feel any pressure to develop a hairstyle that matched or bettered hers? Or was that even a factor in preparing for the competition?

LF: It wasn't a factor. I was there to represent my country and skate to the best of my ability.

S-H: We ranked you above Dorothy Hamill in our Ultimate 50 list, mainly because your hairstyle stayed in position better and held stronger during long routines. What did you do to prepare your hair for those competitions?

LF: These days, I use Onyx Salon Refiner Vita Plexx, Anti-Curl Balm, and always Paul Mitchell Freeze and Shine Super Spray. Back then I used similar products.

S-H: How have you adjusted your hair routine since moving to longer styles -- for skating or otherwise?

LF: I like it styled in layers, and only wash my hair twice a week.

S-H: Are there any other favorite or special products you rely on?

LF: I use several, but before I blow-dry my hair I use Paul Mitchell's Heat Seal.

S-H: What's the biggest challenge you face keeping your hair in place and looking good?

LF: Wind and humid weather.

S-H: Has your hair ever collapsed in your face (on the ice or off) -- and if so, how? (We admittedly think we found one case on YouTube where it did.)

LF: When I have the right haircut and use the right products my hair usually stays were I what it.

S-H: It seems to us that pinned or tied-down hairstyles have come to dominate figure skating in recent years. (Rachael Flatt last season was a nice exception to that.) Has the sport reached the point where unpinned styles are not possible, without them becoming messy and bad-looking? Or do you think there's another explanation for this trend?

LF: I think it depends on what type of hair you have and what works best for you. When I was competing short hair worked best for me because it was easy to style.

S-H: What advice would you give women who wanted to copy your styles, or develop Super-Hair in general?

LF: If your hair isn't too thick it's hard to give it body. I haven't tried products that thicken your hair, but I know they are out there.

I think it is important to get your hair trimmed every six weeks, without fail. I use a round brush to blow my hair out. I never use a flat iron, curling iron or hot rollers.

S-H: We like to ask women who they consider to have the best head of hair they've ever seen -- in sports or otherwise....

LF: Jennifer Lopez.

SUMMARY: We'll take Fratianne at her word, when it comes to focusing on figure skating more than superior hair. But we're still amazed by her ability to keep her styles in place, especially on the ice. Our searching found current photos where the style stops at the brink of Fratianne's face. But finding photos of a full collapse remains very difficult, more than three decades after her Olympic moment. Natural thickness can lead to naturally impressive hairstyles at any length, and even any age.

(NOTE: We are indebted to Brentano Haleen of Lucky Seven Scarves for arranging our interview and providing some photos.)


Read more than 40 additional interviews, in the Super-Hair Q&A Archive!

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