|Vladimir Nikolaevich Kovalev
|| Soviet Union
2 February 1953 |
||5' 9" (175 cm)
Vladimir Nikolaevich Kovalev (Russian: Владимир Николаевич Ковалёв) (born 2 February 1953) is a retired figure skater who competed internationally for the USSR. He is an Olympic silver medalist and 2-time World champion. He trained at VSS Trud in Moscow. Kovalev is pronounced, "ko-va-lyov."
Kovalev placed second behind his British rival John Curry at the 1976 Winter Olympics. However, Kovalev's short and free programs were filled with mistakes and the audience was displeased when the results were announced that he had placed ahead of such skaters as Toller Cranston and Jan Hoffmann. Kovalev went on to win the gold at the World Championships in 1977 and 1979, and he was also the winner of the European Championships in 1975.
While Kovalev entered the 1980 season as a top contender for the 1980 Lake Placid Olympics title, he was clearly poorly trained, overweight and uninspired. As a result, his jumps had become too inconsistent. For example, weeks prior to the Olympics, Kovalev had placed 3rd at the 1980 European Championships with poor short and free programs, far behind his chief rivals, Robin Cousins and Jan Hoffmann. Once in Lake Placid, skating officials and news reporters took note of the fact that Kovalev, perhaps unmotivated and skeptical of his chances, missed most of the practice sessions. When he did show up, he was even unable to complete basic jumps. After observing his practices, an American reporter asked Kovalev at the pre-competition press conference, "Aside from the fact that you are the best-looking male skater in the competition, do you think you have what it takes to win here?", Kovalev burst out of the conference, never to be seen in public again as a competitor. The Soviet officials soon withdrew him from the competition after placing 5th in compulsory figures. Kovalev retired from competitive skating, and began his career as a skating coach.
Kovalev, along with his chief student, Kira Ivanova, were both considered high risks for defecting to the West. Kovalev also coached Natalia Lebedeva and Maria Butyrskaya, when her first coach, Sergei Volkov, died of cancer.