Two-time Olympic gold-medal winner sergei grinkov died suddenly at 28 from an apparent heart attack during practice for a figure skating show in Lake Placid, New York. His death shook the figure skating world and left many of his friends, teammates, and admirers wondering how the champion could have so quickly died. This article, which draws on personal accounts from those who knew him best, examines the man and his legacy.
'He was pure soul on and off the ice,' said Elena Bechke, who competed against Gordeeva and Grinkov as a pair in the early 1980s. 'He gave you everything he had, and that was why people loved him.'
The couple, who both grew up in Moscow, burst onto the international scene in 1986, when they won their first of four world championships. They were known for their balletic grace, a telling trait of the Moscow school, and for their ability to make even the most difficult jumps look effortless.
The elated couple was the uncontested favorite for the 1988 Olympics in Calgary, and they won the gold medal with an immaculate free skate to Mendelssohn's 'Wedding March.' During their time as professional skaters, they began dating and eventually married in 1989. They had one daughter, Daria. Their life together off the ice was as idyllic as it was on the ice. They owned a home in the upscale Hunter's Green neighborhood of Simsbury, Conn., and often had dinner with neighbors, including other Russian-born athletes.