Sergei Grinkov

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Olympic medalist
Medal record
Figure Skating
Competitor for  Soviet Union
Gold 1988 Calgary Pairs
Competitor for  Russia
Gold 1994 Lillehammer Pairs
Sergei Grinkov
Personal information
Country represented  Russia
Former country(ies) represented  Soviet Union
Born (1967-02-04)February 4, 1967
Moscow, Soviet Union
Died November 20, 1995(1995-11-20) (aged 28)
Residence Moscow, Russia
Simsbury, Connecticut, U.S.
Height 6 ft 0 in (1.83 m)
Former partner Ekaterina Gordeeva
Former coach Stanislav Zhuk, Stanislav Leonovich
Choreographer Marina Zueva
Former choreographer Tatiana Tarasova
Skating club Philadelphia SC & HS

Sergei Mikhailovich Grinkov (February 4, 1967 – November 20, 1995) was a Russian pair skater. Together with partner and wife Ekaterina Gordeeva, he was the 1988 and 1994 Olympic Champion and four-time World Champion.


Sergei Grinkov was born in Moscow to Mikhail Kondrateyevich Grinkov and Anna Filipovna Grinkova. The younger of two children, he had an older sister named Natalia Mikhailovna Grinkova.

He first took the ice at the age of five, entering Children and Youth Sports School of CSKA in Moscow.[1] As Grinkov was not a strong solo skater, his coach decided to try him in pair skating, and in August 1981, at age fourteen, he was paired with eleven-year-old Ekaterina Gordeeva at the Central Red Army Club (CSKA) in Moscow by coach Vladimir Zaharov.[2]

The pair won the 1985 World Junior Championship in Colorado Springs, Colorado. The following year they won the first of their four World Figure Skating Championships. They became repeat world champions the following year and won gold at the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary, Alberta.

After a fall in their long program, they took silver at the World Championships in 1988, but they reclaimed that title in 1989 and successfully defended it again in 1990.[3] They turned professional in the fall of 1990. They won their first World Professional Championship in 1991, and went on to win that title two more times (1992 and 1994).[4]

Gordeeva & Grinkov won virtually every competition they entered.[5] In the 31 competitions they completed at the Senior and professional levels, they finished first 24 times and finished off the podium only once; from the time they won their first World Championships, they never placed lower than silver and took gold in all but four of the competitions they completed.[5] They are one of the few pair teams in history to successfully complete a quadruple twist lift in international competition, at the 1987 World Championships. They also completed the difficult maneuver at the 1987 European Championships, but due to a problem with Grinkov's boot strap and a misunderstanding about the rules, they were disqualified from that event.[6]

By 1989, their skating partnership had blossomed into romance. They married in April 1991 (the state wedding was on April 20, the church wedding was on April 28).

The following season was the first year they toured with Stars on Ice. They skated throughout the United States and Canada with the show, which ran from November 1991 through April 1992. On September 11, 1992, Gordeeva gave birth to their daughter, Daria Sergeyevna Grinkova (nicknamed "Dasha"), in Morristown, New Jersey. Shortly after Daria's birth, the pair was back on the ice training for the new season of Stars on Ice, which debuted that November and ran through April 1993.

In 1994, Gordeeva and Grinkov took advantage of a one-time rule change that allowed professional skaters to regain their Olympic eligibility. Skaters in every discipline, including G&G, returned to Olympic competition. Gordeeva and Grinkov captured their second gold medal at the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer, Oppland, Norway. They were the only reinstated skaters to win gold. After these Olympics, they returned to professional skating and took up residence, along with their daughter, in Simsbury, Connecticut. During the 1994-95 season, they toured again with Stars on Ice, this time as headliners. They won the World Professional Championships for the third time in December 1994, earning ten perfect 10s (and nothing lower than a 9.9). Their last competition was at the 1995 Challenge of Champions, which took place on January 7, 1995 in Tokyo, Japan where they skated to Verdi's "Requiem Mass". They won, earning four perfect 10s in their artistic mark. In the fall of 1995, they were preparing new programs and getting ready to return to Stars on Ice for a fourth season. On November 12, 1995, they appeared in an exhibition called Skates of Gold III in Albany, New York. They skated two numbers: Verdi's "Requiem Mass", and the Rolling Stones' "Out of Tears". It would be their final public performance together.

Sudden death[edit]

On November 20, 1995 Grinkov collapsed and died from a massive heart attack in Lake Placid, New York, while he and Gordeeva were practicing for the upcoming 1995–1996 Stars on Ice tour.[7] Doctors found that Grinkov had severely clogged coronary arteries (to the point where his arterial opening was reportedly the size of a pinhole), which caused the heart attack; later testing revealed that he also had a genetic risk factor linked with premature heart attacks. The risk factor is called the PLA-2 variant and is also known as the "Grinkov Risk Factor".[8] Grinkov was 28 years old. His wife was 24 and their daughter was 3 years old.

A 1998 stamp commemorating Gordeeva & Grinkov

Grinkov is interred in the Vagan'kovskoye Cemetery in Moscow. Gordeeva, his widow, along with an all-star cast, skated a tribute in his honor titled "Celebration of a Life" in February 1996, which was later televised. Gordeeva also authored a book about their life and partnership titled My Sergei: A Love Story, which was later turned into a television movie/docudrama titled "My Sergei" and released on DVD.[9] He was also the subject of a book, geared towards the 9–12 age group, titled They died too young: Sergei Grinkov written by Anne E. Hill.

Gordeeva and Grinkov have garnered significant mention in numerous books about the world of figure skating, and Grinkov was featured as one of the athletes in People magazine's book, Gone Too Soon. Fans around the world continue to commemorate Grinkov and G&G, and their skating lives on in countless videos available online and commercially. They are frequently mentioned during telecasts of pairs skating competitions, and even made their way to number 4 on Sports Illustrated's 2009 Thrill List: Figure Skating. They were known for the quality of their basic skating technique: "Grinkov and Gordeeva had something special that was more easily appreciated in person. They didn't make noise when they skated. They moved so fluidly that their blades whispered over the ice rather than scratching at it."[10]

Sergei's father predeceased him. Sergei's mother died in Moscow in 2000. His sister and niece still live in Russia. Gordeeva and Daria now reside in Southern California. Daria took up skating seriously at the age of 9, appearing with her mother in several skating shows from 2003–2007, but quit skating to pursue other interests in 2007. Gordeeva remarried in 2002. She and her second husband, fellow Russian skater Ilia Kulik, have a daughter named Elizaveta.

She has had a long and successful career as a solo artist, and continues to skate professionally as well as pursuing coaching and choreography. In the fall of 2007, she was the headliner for "Skate for the Heart" a skating show televised nationally in the United States with the goal of raising awareness of heart disease. She skated in honor of Grinkov. She starred in the show a second time in 2008, this time dedicating her performance to her late father who, like Sergei, died of a sudden heart attack in 2008.[11]


Our honor depends on our honesty.” — Sovetskiy Sport (April 15, 1987).

In Russian: “Наша честь зависит от нашей честности.” — Советский спорт от 15 апреля 1987 года.


With Ekaterina Gordeeva[12][13]

Season Short program Long program Exhibition

From Requiem:



  • Cha Cha Cha
1987–1988 From Carmen:
  • Jazz medley


Paired with Ekaterina Gordeeva.

Event 1983–84 1984–85 1985–86 1986–87 1987–88 1988–89 1989–90 1990–91 1991–92 1992–93 1993–94
Olympics 1st 1st
Worlds 1st 1st 2nd 1st 1st
Europeans 2nd WD 1st 1st 1st
Goodwill Games 1st
Skate Canada 1st 2nd 1st
NHK Trophy 1st
Moscow News 4th 1st
International: Junior
Junior Worlds 5th 1st
Russian Champ. 1st
Soviet Champ. 6th 2nd 1st
World Pro. 2nd 1st 1st 1st
WD = Withdrew


  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ (Yu, Sylvia "Marina's Muse", Grace & Gold Newsletter, Winter 1999 (Scans available at: (retrieved August 3, 2010)
  3. ^ World Figure Skating Championships
  4. ^ World Professional Figure Skating Championships
  5. ^ a b Gordeeva & Grinkov Results Summary at Pairs on Ice [2] (retrieved August 3, 2010)
  6. ^ Gordeeva, Ekaterina with E.M. Switft, My Sergei: A Love Story, 1996.
  7. ^ Kennedy, Helen (November 22, 1995). "Old Man's Heart Killed Skater". New York Daily News. 
  8. ^ Blumenthal, M.D., Roger S. and Simeon Margolis, Heart Attack Prevention (2007), p. 13
  9. ^ 'My Sergei' Region 1 DVD (1999) ASIN#:B00000I208
  10. ^ Knapp, Gwen (February 25, 2006). "A golden princess: Quiet deserving winner". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved August 21, 2010. 
  11. ^ Korobatov, Yaroslav (2007-11-01). "We didn't want to advertise our love affair with Ilia Kulik" (in Russian). Komsomolskaja Pravda. Retrieved 2008-01-28. 
  12. ^ Programs
  13. ^ Music


External links[edit]