Figure skating is one of the most popular sports in Russia and some of the best figure skaters throughout history have been Russian, and it is a known fact that the coaching techniques that came from the Soviet figure skating "machine" did work. Russian pair and ice dance champions reigned internationally for decades.
Ice Skating Beginnings in Russia:
Tsar Peter the Great brought ice skating to Russia when he brought samples of skates from Europe to his homeland. He is also credited for inventing new ways of attaching ice skating blades directly to boots. After Tsar Peter died, ice skating was forgotten for several years, but in 1865, a public skating rink opened in St. Petersburg. The first Russian figure skating competition took place in 1878.
The Russian used a unique group training system to train its figure skaters. Instruction took place both on and off the ice. Skaters were chosen at a young age to participate and attended special schools geared for athletes.
Russian Pair Skaters and Ice Dancers Reigned:
The Soviet Union produced many Russian figure skating champions especially in pair skating and ice dancing. In 1964, the USSR began celebrating Olympic success when Lyudmila Beloussova and Oleg Protopopov won gold. The Protopopovs won a second Olympic gold medal in 1968, and Russian pair skaters won the pair skating event at every Winter Olympic Games from 1964 to 2006. Russian ice dancers won Olympic gold in 1976, 1980, 1988, 1992, 1994, 1998, and in 2006.
Some Famous Russian Figure Skaters:
- Irina Rodnina - Three Time Olympic Pair Figure Skating Champion
- Evgeni Plushenko - 2006 Olympic Figure Skating Champion
- Marina Klimova and Sergei Ponomarenko - 1992 Olympic Ice Dance Champions
- Ekaterina Gordeeva and Sergei Grinkov - 1988 and 1994 Olympic Pair Skating Champions
- Oksana Grishuk and Evgeny Platov - 1994 and 1998 Olympic Ice Dance Champions