Ekaterina Gordeeva and Sergei Grinkov: Twosome

Sergei's last words, heard only by Katia who fell with him on the ice from the unfinished lift, were: "I feel bad..."

In Lake Placid, Gordeeva and Grinkov prepared for the Stars on Ice tour, which they left for the amateur sport two years ago and where they returned after becoming Olympic champions in Lillehammer. I remember less than a year before the Olympics we decided to meet while the figure skaters came to Moscow as usual for a very short time. But only Sergei came for the interview: Katia stayed at home with little Dasha. In response to all of my questions about their return to the amateur sport and upcoming Olympics, Sergei again and again changed the topic and talked about his wife. Even after I made a light comment: "How come living in America you still have not learnt the language?" - he said very seriously: "I have Katyusha and she talks in English very well. And I don't go anywhere without her. I'll have time to learn the language".

Sergei and Katia were everything for each other. They had their small separate island of absolute happiness. Of course, they had problems and troubles on the inside. But to the outside world they were the spoilt children of fate: success, fame, adorable little daughter, home - the full plate, love... Who new that the fate will ask for that high of a price? "There is no greater happiness for a sport journalist than seeing a victory of a friend and write about it. And there is no greater grief than feeling with your heart an upcoming misfortune of a dear one and have no right to look away," - a very good journalist Stanislav Tokarev once said. And what can I say now? When the words that I try to put on paper won't even get to my head? Sergei is no more. And there is never going to be that Katia who lived twenty out of her twenty four years close to him. Because it is impossible to grow into a person with all of your being and not to die if he died. Maybe you begin to realize that cynicism is in a journalist profession only when you have to look for the last time in the archive to find photos for the post mortem. Alive photographs. Here is the first Olympics in Calgary, here is the second in Lillehammer. Here Gordeeva and Grinkov are not champions yet, Sergei made a lot of mistakes in the short program ("At one moment I felt that cannot stand on my legs because of too much pressure, then I grabbed on to Katyusha"). But the next day they were the best again, they just couldn't disappoint each other. Here is one more photograph: Sergei and Katia on the steps of bitten by the autumn wind CSKA. The thickness of blinding happiness...

That day after the interview, Sergei hurried home so much, that he forgot a video tape, that he filmed at an American rink, at my office. There was "Katia and Dasha. Stars on Ice" written in Sergei's handwriting on the tape cover. On the video - the most important that he had in his life: the wife and daughter. And when I, returning the tape, mentioned that we still didn't have their family photo in our news paper archive he promised: "I'll definitely bring one to you." And he didn't even have chance to do it. Informational agencies kept it very short: the heart have stopped. A few years ago similarly suddenly from a heart failure died a great platform diver David Ambartsunian. And those of us, who were training with him remembered only after his death how often, standing on the platform, he rubbed the left side of his chest as if he was trying to get rid of a splinter that was somewhere deep inside. He never complained: all athletes suffer from tired muscles and and joints. Grinkov had suffered from pains in his back. Sometimes to the point that he had to cancel his performances during the tour. He definitely didn't even know himself that behind this pain that he used to was another one. And when the pain stopped he was glad to be on the ice again. Maybe because all of his life he was really happy on the ice, where there was nobody else, just he and Katia.

It seems paradoxical, but the whole time during their performances starting from their first appearance on the serious international ice in Copenhagen in 1986 where they won their first European silver and finishing with Olympic Lillehammer, not even one photographer ever tried to take a picture of Sergei separately from Katia or Katia from Sergei. Photographs made during the performances always gave an impression that figure skaters constantly were in each others arms. Except maybe when she was flying over him and making high speed pirouettes, knowing that down there his strong and familiar hands are definitely waiting for her. My friend, a German journalist, who have fell in love with skating of Gordeeva and Grinkov just as me, once during a hot discussion about another legendary pair - Ludmila Belousova and Oleg Protopopov - said that only them he could not imagine without each other. Everybody else could be separated: Gordeeva and Grinkov are not an exception. Who knew then what kind of a separation the fate was preparing for Sergei and Katia? The picture where Sergei was by himself nevertheless came up. This picture came from the US from the AP archive, but the words under the photograph said "Sergei Grinkov. The part of the photograph made at Lillehammer on January 19, 1994." On this picture, he as usual was with Katia. And nobody could have ever imagine that in twenty two months their duo will be cut alive.

Elena Vaitsekhovskaya. Copyright by © 1995 Sport-Express
Special thanks to Oksana Volikova for this article.