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Lyudmila Belousova and Oleg Protopopov - Pair Skating Legends


The Protopopovs - Two-Time Olympic Champions

The Protopopovs - Two-Time Olympic Champions

Photo © Tracy Marks - http://www.webwinds.com/skating/skating.htm

Olympic Pair Skating Champions:

Lyudmila Belousova and Oleg Protopopov won two Olympic gold medals in pair skating.

Artists on Ice:

Lyudmila Belousova and Oleg Protopopov were known for being creative and for being artistic on the ice. They brought ballet to pair skating.

Known as "The Protopopovs":

Lyudmila Belousova and Oleg Protopopov were a pair on and off the ice. They competed as a married couple and were known as "The Protopopovs." They were married in 1957.

Dates and Places of Birth:

Lyudmila Belousova was born on November 22, 1935 in Ulyanovsk and Oleg Protopopov was born on July 16, 1932 in Leningrad.

Previous Partners:

Oleg Protopopov won a bronze medal at the 1953 Russian pairs championships with Margarita Bogoyavlenskaya. Lyudmila Belousova skated with Yuri Nevski until 1957. She was originally trained to be an engineer.

Became a Pair Team:

Lyudmila Belousova and Oleg Protopopov began skating together in 1957. They never had an official coach or choreographer. Lyudmilla designed and made their costumes and Oleg did their choreography.

Older Than Most Pair Skaters:

Lyudmila Belousova and Oleg Protopopov were older than most pair skaters, but the beauty and artistry that they exhibited changed pair skating.

Trademark Move:

Lyudmila Belousova and Oleg Protopopov are known for their beautiful back outside death spiral. Lyudmila's head came very close to touching the ice when they did that move.

The Protopopovs are also credited for inventing other variations of the death spiral. They gave their death spirals three different names: "the life spiral, the love spiral and the cosmic spiral."

Skated to Classical Music:

The Protopopovs always skated to slow and beautiful classical music.

Competition Highlights:

  • 1968 World Championships - 1st
  • 1968 Olympic Games - 1st
  • 1968 European Championships - 1st
  • 1967 World Championships - 1st
  • 1966 World Championships - 1st
  • 1965 World Championships - 1st
  • 1964 World Championships - 2nd
  • 1964 Olympic Games - 1st

Protopopovs Today:

In late 1979, the Protopopovs defected from the Soviet Union and moved to Switzerland when the Soviet skating officials required the team to stop performing and begin coaching. Switzerland is where they live today. Lyudmila and Oleg Protopopov continue to skate and perform.

They spend five months of each year in Lake Placid, New York. Age hasn't stopped the pair from skating. They skate everyday and they are honorary members of the Skating Club of Lake Placid. They spend the other part of the year at their home in Switzerland and they vacation in Hawaii. Also, once a year, in October, they perform at Harvard in "An Evening With Champions."

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