Figure Skating - Grinkov and Gordeyeva prove a match made in heaven

Adversity can either drive sporting partners apart or pull them closer together, and that is never truer than in pairs figure skating, where couples work intensely in such close proximity for such long periods that things inevitably go wrong at times.

Picture by Getty (2)

So it was with Sergei Grinkov and Katya Gordeyeva. They were considered one of the best partnerships in the world, having been skating together for five years, but they were constantly attempting to improve and perfect their routines.

The 16-year-old Gordeyeva stood at just 1.45m tall, and was unsurprisingly very light. Her partner, Grinkov, was five years older and 55cm taller, which meant he was able to produce some impressive lifts during their routines. But one day in training, three months before the 1988 Winter Games, things went rather badly wrong. Grinkov lost his footing, dropped his partner and she landed on her head. Gordeyeva spent six days in hospital recovering. But she bounced back, and remarkably the confidence and understanding between the two skaters appeared to be stronger than ever.

Not long after the accident, they won the European title, establishing themselves as the clear favourites for the Olympic tournament. They duly produced superb performances in both the short and free programmes, taking top marks from every judge in the latter. The gold medal was theirs.

The pair turned professional in 1990, married in 1991 and had a baby daughter in 1992. Two years later, with the rules on eligibility having changed, they returned to Olympic competition in Lillehammer and won a second gold medal. Tragically, though, Grinkov died the following year of a heart attack. He was only 28 years old.


Free live sport events. Unlimited access to series. Unrivalled Olympic news & highlights.
Sign up here Sign up here