With the 2010 Winter Olympics and Valentine’s Day right around the corner, I couldn’t help but think of one of my favorite love stories—that of champion pairs skaters Katia Gordeeva and Sergei Grinkov.
I was still in high school when “G&G” were at the height of their career and I remember vividly the shock and sadness I felt upon hearing the news of Grinkov’s untimely death.
In the opening chapter of the book, which was first published in 1996, Gordeeva says she’s “writing this memoir now, before [Grinkov’s] lovely echo fades, as it inevitably will, with time.” Gordeeva and Grinkov’s skating career, from their initial pairing and first competitions through their second Olympic gold medal, is chronicled with great attention to details such as costumes, music selection, and choreography. Gordeeva discusses their intense training under the Soviet sports regime and their evolution as athletes and performers. Integral to their growth as skaters is their private journey from young co-workers to lovers to husband and wife to parents. When Grinkov died in November 1995, Gordeeva lost her husband and partner, and the father of her three-year-old daughter, rendering a heart-breaking conclusion to love story that should have had a happily ever after.
Of course figure skating fans will enjoy Gordeeva’s perspective on the sport, but for other readers, this is a timeless romance. The simple language used throughout (Gordeeva spoke little English at the time that this book was written), combined with Gordeeva’s candidness, gives the book an innocent quality.
Truly a bittersweet story.