Veteran Figure Skaters Prove They've Still Got Skills In Spectacular Exhibition Performance
Ludmilla Belousova and Oleg Protopopov were World Champions 4 years in a row from 1965–1968. They were also two-time Olympic Champions in both 1964 and 1968 representing the Soviet Union. In 1979, they defected to Switzerland where they became household names due to their success in competitions and exhibitions.
In 2015, the pair took to the ice again for an exhibition called “An Evening With Champions". Even after all this time, it's clear they still have a level of talent, grace, and skill that can make younger generations jealous.
The husband and wife pair were known as The Protopopovs during their competition days, and it's clear they still have strong chemistry as a couple and as skating partners. At the time of the 2015 exhibition, Ludmilla was 79 years old and Oleg was 83. He had suffered a stroke 4 years prior to this, and she would sadly pass away two years after this final exhibition. However, all their years and medical challenges seem to melt away as they glide across the ice in perfect harmony.
The name Protopopov may not be readily recognizable anymore, especially outside of Russia, but the impact this pair has had on pair skating and the figure skating world in general cannot be denied. In addition to their accomplishments on the ice that helped push the bar higher for pair skaters, the two also invented the Death Spiral, which has since become a staple move for pair skaters in any major competition.
Dick Button, himself a two-time Olympic Champion, had this to say about the Protopopovs: “I have always said that a great skater is one who not only reaches the top, either as a competitor or a performer, but more important also leaves the world of figure skating better and different just because they were in it. The Protopopovs are great skaters not only because they were the finest of Olympic champions, but also because their creative impact was extraordinary.”
According to Lake Placid News, once they retired from competition skating, this extraordinary couple moved on to teach at a rink in Lake Placid where they lived. They have always been eager to pass their skills and knowledge on to the next generation and have always been big advocates of the sport as well, encouraging a love of skating in the subsequent generations that are attempting to following in their skate-clad footsteps.
The Protopopovs had been performing on the ice together for 50 years when they returned for their final exhibition. Obviously, there were no dramatic jumps or spins, but the grace, poise, and romanticism they were able to demonstrate after being romantic and athletic partners for so long was a sight to behold, and a reminder that performances don't need to be over the top to have an impact.
One Youtube commenter called the video “One of the most beautiful and moving things I have seen! Thank you for posting this. I will say it was a wonderful treat to see them skate at their ages. Maybe there were no jumps or lifts but who cares. That was great classic skating at its best. Something for younger skaters to pay attention to. You [don’t] always have to be crazy jumping to create a moment that people will remember.”
Be sure to watch this moving video for yourself and pass it along to your friends and family!
After skating together for 50 years, husband and wife duo prove they still have it in their final exhibition. Former Olympic and World Champions known as the Protopopovs wow in this romantic and sweeping performance.