The Duo has two Leaders

Ottawa (TASS). World champions in a pair skating, Muscovites Ekaterina Gordeeva and Sergei Grinkov, are leading after the short program at the international figure skating competition Skate Canada which started in Regina, Canada.

Countrymen Natalia Annenko and Genrich Sretenski are leading after the compulsory dance. Vitaly Egorov from Kharkiv leads the men competition after the short program; Natalia Lebedeva from the city of Sverdlovsk in second after compulsories and the short program, Elizabeth Manley is first.

Before the start of a new figure skating season, we received many letters asking us to write about our current top skaters. Today we present World Champions in pairs figure skating, Ekaterina Gordeeva and Sergei Grinkov.

Their moms brought them to the CSKA skating rink. They did not follow a trend that was popular at the time; they just wanted sports to help in children’s development. Having learnt their children were accepted to CSKA, parents entrusted them to experienced coaches.

Katia is four years younger than Sergei. They came to school four years apart from each other. Training naturally comes to Sergei much easier. He became a highly perspective child right away. After he placed fourth at one of the international competitions, coaches’ opinion of him got even stronger.

Gordeeva’s success was more modest. Her career as a figure skater almost ended because her father, a dancer with the Alexandrov dance company, passionately wanted his daughter to become a ballet dancer. And he has insisted that Katia participate in Bolshoi Ballet choreography competition. The girl passed three stages of exams and suddenly declared: "I will do only figure skating."

The disappointed parent could not do anything except say: "It is your will, daughter…"

After Katia returned to the ice, a CSKA coach came up with an idea to create one more duo in pairs. Gordeeva and Grinkov became the candidates everybody agreed upon. In theory this new pair looked quite well; in practice however, not everything was so smooth.

"You really cannot do a single pull up?"- Coach asked Katia looking at the helplessly hanging girl on a crossbeam.

Instead of an answer, she tried to disprove the disappointed coach, but convulsive efforts to bend her elbows were unsuccessful.

"No, sweetie, that’s not good. You cannot do without strong arms in pairs skating. You need to become stronger, Katyusha. Can you do that?" – The coach asked.

The girl nodded in agreement. I don’t know, what "recipes" Katia used (I think, the only one - persistence), but the fact is now Gordeeva pulls up 26 times and does it with a stop watch.

"I was no super-hero (bogatyr in Russian - I.S.) myself," - Sergei recollects those days. "I admit, my knees shivered in fear, when I thought about lifting a partner with my arms, or even with just one arm."

After a year of training, Sergei has unrecognizably changed. He is an athlete now.

Strength, superb skating skills and difficult elements came to the young skaters in due course, but it was not easy. Katia and Sergei work with such intensity and fascination for the sport! I write that because I see them every day on the ice and in the gym. It would be unimaginable for them not to succeed.

Their fate is fair; they confidently move up and have many victories. World Junior champions just have won their senior Worlds. It is especially significant that moving to the top Sergei and Ekaterina have managed to surpass the current Olympic Champions, Elena Valova and Oleg Vasilev.

Yes, the World champions are hardworking and very gifted. A modern athlete is inconceivable without these qualities as well as without people who help to reach the glory. Therefore, when we write about the World champions’ success, we should remember the names of their coaches without whom it would not be possible. And it is a whole group of people: V.Zakharov, N.Shevalovskaya, S.Leonovich, M.Zueva, S.Zhuk.

Usually, when talking about a pair, a question about who is the leader comes up. For every pair there is a different answer, sometimes it is she, sometimes it is he. With Gordeeva and Grinkov, it seems like there is no leader. They are equally involved in defining their performing style. They only compete with each other at the tennis court or when fishing. There they are very fierce competitors.

Sergei and Katia train together with Alexander Fadeev and Anna Kondrashova, figure skaters who left champion autographs on ice themselves. Who else would know the young skaters better than them?

"Katia’s character traits such as - kindness, earnestness, compassion and sensitivity, I would wish to any of my friends," - told me Anna Kondrashova. "I know firsthand how difficult it is to go to school and train in a professional sport at the same time. I respect Katia very much for her determination; she does not ask for special treatment. All her good grades at school are honestly earned just like her marks on the ice.

"I like Sergei for his calm confidence," said Alexander Fadeev, - "He is a very decent and open guy. You won’t be able to get bored with him. He always has a joke or a funny story for you. Sometimes even smiley Katia gets frustrated. But I don’t remember it ever happening to Sergei. He is such an optimist, no matter the circumstances."

... When figure skaters travel to competitions with Katia Gordeeva, they try to take the closest seat to her. The reason is Gordeeva likes to bake, and always has a cake or two on the road with her. She comes up with a new cake recipe for each of their victories with Sergei. I think that with every year there are going to be more recipes.

V. Ryzhkin. © Soviet Russia, 1986.
Translated by ©
Special thanks to Yulia for this article.