Gorsha Sur

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Gorsha Sur
Personal information
Alternative namesGeorgi Sur
Country represented United States
Former country(ies) represented Soviet Union
Born (1967-01-01) January 1, 1967 (age 56)
Moscow, Russian SFSR, Soviet Union
Former partnerRenée Roca
Svetlana Liapina
Former coachSandy Hess
Medal record
Figure skating: Ice dancing
Representing  United States
Bronze medal – third place 1995 Skate America Ice dance
Bronze medal – third place 1994 Skate Canada Ice dance
Bronze medal – third place 1993 Skate America Ice dance
U.S. Championships
Silver medal – second place 1996 San Jose Ice dance
Gold medal – first place 1995 Providence Ice dance
Gold medal – first place 1993 Phoenix Ice dance

Georgi "Gorsha" Sur (born January 1, 1967) is a former ice dancer who represented the United States and the Soviet Union. With Svetlana Liapina for the Soviet Union, he is a two-time World Junior medalist. With Renée Roca for the U.S., he is a two-time U.S. national champion (1993, 1995).

Life and career[edit]

Partnership with Liapina[edit]

Early in his career, Sur competed in partnership with Svetlana Liapina. The two won bronze at the 1984 World Junior Championships in Sapporo, Japan. The following season, they were awarded silver behind Elena Krykanova / Evgeni Platov at the 1985 World Junior Championships in Colorado Springs, Colorado.[1]

After moving up to the senior ranks, Liapina/Sur won silver at the 1986 Nebelhorn Trophy, 1987 NHK Trophy, and 1988 Skate America. They were awarded gold at the 1989 Winter Universiade. Due to the depth of the Soviet ice dancing field, the duo decided to leave amateur competition for professional skating.[2]

Move to the United States[edit]

In January 1990, Sur was taking part in a month-long Russian All-Stars skating tour in the U.S., headlined by Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean,[3] when he defected to the U.S., on January 24, 1990.[3][2] He was joined by Elena Krikanova, Igor Shpilband, Veronica Pershina and a tour official.[3][4] The group moved in with Russian immigrants in Brooklyn and eventually pooled their money to rent a one-bedroom apartment.[3] With Sur's funds running out, American friends put him in touch with the Detroit Skating Club where he was offered a coaching job.[3]

Partnership with Roca[edit]

Belgian skater Jirina Ribbens advised Sur to contact Renée Roca if he was looking for a skating partner.[2] Ribbens stated, "Of all the U.S. ice dancers, Renee's style is the most European. She has a classically elegant and dramatic flair, more like a ballerina than a ballroom dancer."[2]

Roca/Sur worked together in Detroit for two weeks and were soon invited to audition for tour organizers and to compete at professional competitions.[2] A year later, the International Skating Union changed its eligibility rules, allowing professional skaters to reinstate as amateurs to compete at the World Championships and Olympics; Sur convinced Roca to return to eligible competition.[2]

The duo choreographed the free dance that Elizabeth Punsalan and Jerod Swallow used to win the 1991 U.S. Championships.[5]

Roca/Sur began competing in the 1992–93 season. They were coached by Sandy Hess in Colorado Springs, Colorado.[2][6] Roca and Sur won the 1993 U.S. national title. Roca and Sur hoped to win the United States' single berth to the ice dancing event at the 1994 Winter Olympics. To do so, the couple had to not only win the 1994 U.S. national title but also receive accelerated citizenship for Sur due to the Olympics' citizenship requirements.[3]

A Republican Representative and Democratic Senator, both from Colorado, lent their support to speed up Sur's naturalization in Congress.[3] It was argued that his case differed from other athletes because not speeding up the process would hurt an American citizen, Renee Roca.[3] However, their efforts were stymied in late December 1993 when the United States Olympic Committee denied a request for a waiver to the requirement that athletes be citizens by the national championships.[7] In addition, their main rivals for the Olympic spot, Punsalan and Swallow, were involved in a letter-writing campaign to Congress to attempt to prevent Sur from receiving expedited citizenship.[5][8]

During a warm-up at the 1994 U.S. Championships, Roca was skating backward and collided with the team of Galit Chait and Maksim Sevostyanov, fracturing a bone in her left arm.[6]

Two hours later, she returned from the hospital with her arm in a cast and decided to try to compete. They placed second to Punsalan and Swallow in the rhumba, however, Roca was unable to secure a firm grip with her left hand.[6] The couple was ultimately forced to withdraw from the rest of the competition. Roca/Sur returned to competition the following season and defeated Punsalan and Swallow at the 1995 U.S. Championships to reclaim their national crown.[citation needed]

At the 1996 U.S. Championships, their fortunes reversed again and Roca/Sur placed second to Punsalan/Swallow.[9] Roca/Sur retired from eligible competition at the end of the season and toured with Stars on Ice.[citation needed]

Sur has been credited as being the indirect cause of the Rent-A-Russian phenomenon in American skating,[10] although he had moved to the United States with no intention of ever competing again.

Education and later work[edit]

After retiring from competition, Sur worked as a coach and choreographer at the Oakland Ice Center. He enrolled at the University of California, Hastings College of the Law in 2003 and graduated in 2006.[11][12] He studied international commercial arbitration law at Stockholm University.[12]

Sur served as the head of sports law practice at a Russian leading law firm, Egorov Puginsky Afanasiev & Partners.[13] He advised and represented national and multinational entities in international arbitration, litigation, and mediation. In early 2016, he returned to the United States to work at Versus Advocates, a legal practice in Los Angeles.[12]


With Liapina for the Soviet Union[edit]

Event 83–84 84–85 85–86 86–87 87–88 88–89
NHK Trophy 2nd
Skate America 2nd
Nebelhorn Trophy 2nd
Prize of Moscow News 8th
Winter Universiade 3rd 1st
International: Junior
World Junior Champ. 3rd 2nd
Soviet Champ. 5th 5th

With Roca for the United States[edit]

GP: Champions Series (Grand Prix)

Event 1992–93 1993–94 1994–95 1995–96
World Champ. 11th 10th 14th
GP Nations Cup 4th
GP Skate America 3rd
NHK Trophy 5th
Skate America 3rd
Skate Canada 3rd
U.S. Champ. 1st 1st 2nd


  1. ^ "World Junior Figure Skating Championships: Dance" (PDF). International Skating Union. Archived from the original (PDF) on October 30, 2008.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Harvey, Randy (January 19, 1993). "Defector Finds New Life, and New Partner". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved September 7, 2011.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h Longman, Jere (December 5, 1993). "OLYMPICS; Sur, a Russian Ice Dancer, Is Pursuing U.S. Citizenship". The New York Times. Retrieved September 7, 2011.
  4. ^ Rosewater, Amy (May 24, 2011). "Shpilband, Zoueva at forefront of dance revolution". IceNetwork.com. Retrieved June 18, 2011.
  5. ^ a b Kent, Milton (February 16, 1995). "Skating squabble plays to soap opera background". The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved September 7, 2011.
  6. ^ a b c Longman, Jere (January 6, 1994). "OLYMPICS; Roca, Ice Dancer, Breaks Arm But Comes Back to Skate On". The New York Times. Retrieved September 7, 2011.
  7. ^ "SPORTS PEOPLE: FIGURE SKATING; A Setback for Sur". New York Times. December 22, 1993. Retrieved September 7, 2011.
  8. ^ Blount, Terry (February 17, 1995). "Latest skating controversy will be detailed on ABC". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved September 7, 2011.
  9. ^ Harvey, Randy (January 20, 1996). "Punsalan, Swallow Win Dance Title". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved September 7, 2011.
  10. ^ Sivorinovsky, Alina (2000). Inside Figure Skating. MetroBooks. ISBN 1-58663-005-9.
  11. ^ "Background Checks: Gorsha Sur '06 - Competitive by Nature". University of California, Hastings College of Law Magazine. Spring 2010. Archived from the original on March 6, 2012.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  12. ^ a b c Elfman, Lois (October 13, 2016). "Sur joins fellow former skaters in legal practice". IceNetwork.com.
  13. ^ "Georgy Sur". Egorov Puginsky Afanasiev & Partners. Archived from the original on March 11, 2014.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)

External links[edit]