A love poem


At this year's European Championships in Leningrad, Soviet pairs grabbed all the medals. Muscovites, Ekaterina Gordeeva and Sergei Grinkov, Olympic and world champions, received gold medals. Silver and bronze went to the athletes from Leningrad, Larisa Selezneva/Oleg Makarov and Natalia Mishkutenok/Artur Dmitriev.

What is today's pair skating, what are the prospects of its future? Both, experts and spectators argue about it. Its tendency cannot just be reduced to the extra-difficult elements. In my opinion, the essence of figure skating is in beauty, elegance, expressiveness and speed. I think, to be successful you need all of that. The present European Championships and particularly the performance of a winning long program, that used music from Romeo and Juliet ballet, have given a similar answer. The question is about a creative dialogue between partners, about beauty of sensuality and experiences, about feeling of music.

During the Gordeeva and Grinkov's performance the arena was transfixed by their presence. The audience enjoyed the art between the partners, going through the program with the athletes. It is a vivid example of educational influence of sport, as well as art! But, as they say, it is only one side of a medal. There were also some obstacles. Very few people know that the young athletes were in a difficult situation before the start, when some newspapers advancing the events wrote that Gordeeva and Grinkov will not perform in Leningrad. Despite that, the skater and their instructors Stanislav Leonovich and Marina Zueva have set themselves on performing. The situation became more complicated after their unexpected failure in the original program during the first day of competition. Even some experts and professional journalists have started believing that Katia and Sergei have no chances to compete for gold, and Leningrad pairs have an advantage. In this heated situation, also felt by the athletes as they later admitted to me, the champions have shown their strong personality. On the ice, they forgot everything and presented a poem about love and youth to the arena spectators.

V. Ryzhkin - Honored coach of Russia. Leningrad.
Photo by A. Fedorov. Copyright © January 1990.
Special thanks to Irina Bulgakova for this article.