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Skating Legends & Lake Placid Residents, Oleg and Ludmila Protopopov to Receive Tribute at Lake Placid’s 1980 Rink

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A Tribute to the Protopopovs, 1980 Rink, Lake Placid

Skating Club of Lake Placid Pays Tribute to Oleg and Ludmila Protopopov

Oleg and Ludmila Protopopov When I moved to Lake Placid in 2003, I was immediately enamored of the historical figures that had skated in this town. I was standing in the 1980 Rink mezzanine one day, watching skaters on the ice. “Wow, who’s that older couple on the ice? They’re really good,” I exclaimed. I had no idea that I was watching one of figure skating’s royal couples, two skaters who had paved the way for future skaters and had created their own amazing legacy–Oleg and Ludmila Protopopov.

In the 1960s, the Protopopovs were on their way to figure skating glory. They won the 1964 and 1968 Olympic Gold Medals in Pairs Skating, and the World Championships from 1965-1968. All of this came after being disowned by the Soviet Skating Federation.

After meeting at a skating seminar in the 1950s and skating with other partners, Oleg and Ludmila began skating together in 1957. They were renegades, training on their own after being told by the Russian Skating Federation that they were “too old” to be a legitimate contender for Russian Pairs Skating. So Oleg choreographed, Ludmila made their costumes, and they trained themselves. Their efforts resulted in Olympic gold medals, and four World Championship titles.

Their troubles continued even after the Olympic and World wins. Their style was unique–a combination of athleticism and unsurpassed artistry, an unusual mix for pairs skaters at the time. They were ready and willing to defend their Olympic title in 1972, but the Russian Federation blocked them from competing because they had come in third during the previous year’s World championships. They turned professional, and eventually defected from the Soviet Union in 1979. The Protopopovs joined the Ice Capades, and they amazed the world with their unique moves. One move, now called the “Death Spiral” (originally called the “Cosmic Spiral” by the Protopopovs), has become a compulsory move in Pairs Competition.

Now the Skating Club of Lake Placid is paying tribute to these Lake Placid residents with “A Tribute to the Protopopovs.” On Saturday, September 3, 2011 at 7pm in the 1980 rink, local and regional skaters of all ages and abilities will pay tribute to the skating legends. The program will also include special guests, such as skating icon Dick Button.

Admission is $10 for adults, and $8 for Juniors and Seniors. All proceeds will benefit the Skating Club of Lake Placid. For more information, visit their Facebook event page.

Christie Sausa is a Contributor to The Free George.

The Free George is the online magazine and visitors’ guide of Upstate NY, covering things from Albany to Lake Placid, including Saratoga, the Lake George region and the Adirondacks. Check out our new City Blogs section for our extended coverage areas as well.

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