Ice skating. I can't even stand up on a pair of skates, but it's a sport I've always marveled at and enjoy watching. And never has the world been more entranced than when Olympic Pairs champions Ekaterina Gordeeva and Sergei Grinkov took to the ice. They won gold for their native Russia in pairs skating at the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary (Katia was just 16, Sergei, 21) and at the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer.
They were paired together on the ice at the young ages of 10 and 14. Over the course of their career, they would compete 31 times at the senior and professional levels, finishing first a remarkable 24 times. Their skating partnership also blossomed into a romance. They were married in 1991 and welcomed daughter Daria in September 1992. Apart from their Olympic victories, Gordeeva and Grinkov also toured extensively with Stars on Ice in the early '90s.
Gordeeva and Grinkov are widely regarded as the finest skating pair ever. They remain the youngest pair to win Olympic Gold. They are one of the few pair teams in history to successfully complete a quadruple twist lift in international competition (at the 1987 World Championships). In addition to their technical excellence, Gordeeva and Grinkov seemed to possess a magical quality that allowed them to move together in (almost) perfect harmony.
Sergei Grinkov died, tragically, of a massive heart attack in November 1995, the result of severely clogged coronary arteries and a genetic risk factor linked to premature heart attacks. He is buried in Moscow. Ekaterina Gordeeva returned to the ice in 1996, skating a solo tribute to her husband. She has continued her career as a solo skater and still honors Grinkov's memory; in 2007 she was the headliner for the event "Skate for the Heart," which was aimed at raising awareness of heart disease. She remarried in 2002; her husband is the 1998 Nagano Olympic Champion Ilia Kulik, with whom she has a young daughter named Elizaveta.
Ekaterina Gordeeva, Daria Grinkova, and Ilia and Elizaveta Kulik currently reside in Newport Beach, CA. (Fun fact: They still speak Russian at home.)
Video: My favorite Gordeeva and Grinkov program, Vocalise, skated at the 1994 Canadian Pros.
1.) Laura Foster and Keri Dillet: Recording of the composition dialogue. See porfolio for script.
2.) Laura Foster and Keri Dillet: Recording of Dialogue #3 - p. 23