Sunday, February 15, 2009

A Fairy Tale: Gone Too Soon

This is a beautiful love story of a Russian skater, Ekaterina Gordeeva, whose true love, Sergei Grinkov, was taken away from her too quickly. Fortunately, she was able to move on and find another love. I believe what sorely missed by the whole world after the tragedy was Sergei's megawatt smiles. 



A Tribute to G & G

Daria, Sergei and Ekaterina.

Ekaterina Gordeeva was born in 1971 in the Soviet capital of Moscow. In 1982, when Gordeeva was eleven years old, she began skating with Sergei Grinkov, who was four years her senior, at the Central Army Club in Moscow. They developed a close relationship, much like that of a brother and sister. According to E. M. Swift in Sports Illustrated, they skated "lyrically, harmoniously, but without emotional tension."



Skating champion and choreographer Sandra Bezic said, "He presented her so beautifully, like a cherished little sister. They are everything pairs skating should be. After winning their fourth world championship, in 1990, the pair quit amateur competition and joined Tom Collins's Tour of World Champions, planning to skate for four or five years, make some money and then move on to separate careers. However, their plans changed when they fell in love during the Collins tour. Collins told Leigh Montville in Sports Illustrated, "You could see it happen. It was all very sweet. They were with each other all the time."


Gordeeva told Joanna Powell in Good Housekeeping, "There was something special about us. We never changed partners. I never skated with anyone else. I never touched anyone else, only Sergei. After we became lovers, our skating started to become more sensitive and more beautiful. The two skaters were married in April of 1991, in Moscow; in 1992 they had a daughter, Daria.


Sergei Grinkov
Husband, Father, Friend
February 4, 1967 - November 2
0, 1995.

Historically, professional athletes were not allowed to compete in the Olympics, but in 1992, these rules were changed, making Gordeeva and Grinkov eligible to compete in the 1994 Olympic Games in Lillehammer, Norway. Skating to Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata, the pair, now married and parents, won another gold medal.



On November 20, 1995, tragedy struck when the 28-year-old Grinkov died unexpectedly while he and Gordeeva were rehearsing for a Stars on Ice show at a rink in Lake Placid, New York. Gordeeva later wrote in her memoir, My Sergei, "Sergei was gliding on the ice, but he didn't do the crossovers. His hands didn't go around my waist for the lift…. He couldn't control himself. He tried to stop, but he kept gliding into the boards. He tried to hold onto the boards…. Then he bent his knees and lay down on the ice very carefully. I kept asking what was happening…. But he didn't speak at all."
Grinkov, who had appeared to be completely healthy except for a problem with high blood pressure, had suffered a massive heart attack. After his death, doctors determined that two of the arteries in his heart had been completely blocked. Heart disease ran in his family; his father had died from a heart attack in his fifties.


The mourning wife.

The funeral.

Gordeeva took Grinkov's body home to Moscow for the funeral and spent three months in Russia. Although she considered giving up skating forever, she realized that she was not trained to do anything else. In addition, she missed the feel and flow of skating, and she decided to return to the ice.
In early 1996, three months after Grinkov's death, she skated again, solo, at a tribute to Grinkov in Hartford, Connecticut. The transition from pairs skating to solo skating was difficult, but Gordeeva told Lopez, "You can't lock yourself inside yourself or you'll die. My mother told me you have to get up now. You have a daughter to live for." When Gordeeva returned as a single skater, observers were impressed by what Powell called her "elegant fusion of raw emotion and gentle, ballerina-style grace."

According to Mark Starr in Newsweek, Gordeeva said after that performance, "I want you to know I skated tonight not alone. I skated with Sergei. That's why it was so good."


However, she also said, "My life of great skating, and skating with him, is over.", according to Steve Lopez in Time. "I don't try to go now for Olympics. I take skating for a job."
In 1996, Gordeeva published My Sergei, a tribute to her late husband and partner. By 1998, the book had sold more than one million copies in both hardcover and paperback, testifying both to Gordeeva's popularity and to the public's fascination with the intensely romantic relationship between the two skaters. For Gordeeva, writing the book helped her express her love and her grief, but it also reminded her of his death; she quit her book tour early because she found it too difficult to be constantly reminded of the tragedy.



In that same year, Gordeeva met Ilia Kulik, who had won a gold medal in Men's figure skating at the 1998 Olympic Games in Nagano, Japan. Eventually, they became romantically involved.



Daria Grinkova, the daughter of the famous pairs skaters Sergei Grinkov and Ekaterina Gordeeva follows her parents' paths as a professional ice skater.

Gordeeva and Kulik had a daughter, Elizaveta, born in June of 2001, and Gordeeva cut back her skating in order to spend more time with Elizaveta and Daria.

Adopted from Source: http://sports.jrank.org/pages/1701/Gordeeva-Ekaterina.html

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