Witt made her first appearance in a major international competition at the 1979 European Championships, finishing 14th at the event. At the 1981 World Championships, she placed 1st in the short, 3rd in the long, and 2nd in the combined free skate, missing a medal due to low placement in figures. She placed on a major podium for the first time in 1982, winning silver at both the European and World Championships. She had a great shot at winning the 1982 World Championships, which she only required winning the long program to do. However, she stepped out of three jumps, including the legendary triple flip, the complex element she was the very first woman to accomplish, and a relatively easy double axel, which cost her the long program win and the overall gold medal. The eventual winner of the competition was Elaine Zayak, who landed six triples. The next season, she won her first European title but finished off the World podium in fourth place, because she was 8th in compulsory figures despite winning the combined free skating. Had she placed 1st in the long program instead of 2nd (on a 5-4 split) to Sumners, she would have jumped to the silver over both Leistner and Vodorezova. Her free skate with a triple flip and five triples was technically superior to Sumners', and many believed she should have taken the crucial 1st place in this phase.
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