I wanted to take a moment and talk about how completely amazing it is to me that Ludmilla and Oleg Protopopov are still performing. They were announced as once again being among the cast members at this year's "An Evening With Champions" fundraiser for the Jimmy Fund at Harvard University, a show they have been performing in for decades. To give people who aren't really familiar with who the Protopopovs are some scope, they won the gold medals in the 1964 and 1968 Winter Olympics, four World Championships, defected to Switzerland from the Soviet Union in 1979 and have been performing as professional skaters since 1973. That's FORTY YEARS! The only other skaters even nearing that kind of longevity as performers are Dorothy Hamill, Robin Cousins, Scott Hamilton and Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean... that said, none of these skaters were winning World titles in the 1960's! The duo actually won their first senior medal at the Soviet Championships in 1955, meaning that they are pushing SIXTY YEARS skating. Now 77 and 81 years old respectively, the duo truly epitomize that skating is a lifelong sport and that like a fine wine, it gets better with age.
Oleg and Ludmilla performing at the 2005 An Evening With Champions show
Oleg and Ludmilla performing at the 2011 An Evening With Champions show
There's a certain elegance, a charm, a sophistication that these two bring to the ice to these very day. The very best skaters of all time all have that... an understanding of music and how to move to it. The Protopopovs don't rush through their movements, they take time and care to express each note and don't need to still perform jumps and lifts to show what makes their skating magical. I want to applaud what they represent and who they are and the fact they still love skating so much that they get out there and create new programs to perform to audiences that appreciate them not as a novelty but as the legends they are. There is something so truly beautiful and awe inspiring about that.
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