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  1. #21

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    That's from "Skates of Gold" II. There were three programs (1993, 1994, 1995) saluting the Olympic Gold Medalists.
    Participants did individual programs; followed by a group number for each discipline, where each highlighted a "signature" move.

    Several versions were broadcast: US, UK, CAN, JPN, RUS, etc.
    If anyone has any of the "world" telecasts. please let me know.

    All were special; but the first was more so.
    Most of the OGM's then living were in attendance. and such gatherings were very rare; if they had ever happened, previously.

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    Moskvina called V/V "mediocre skaters" (talentwise) and complained that unlike Zhuk she couldn't pick and choose and had to work with whoever she had Interestingly, it was with them that she made a breakthrough as a top pairs coach. T/M were clearly superior to V/V in terms of talent, they were finer skaters, too.

  3. #23
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    I always thought that the '80s era of Soviet pairs was fascinating wild ride, at least from a political perspective -

    Rodnina/Zaitzev competed in and of course won '80 Olympics, but she injured her shoulder and they didn't bother to go to '80 Worlds in Dortmund, and just retired.

    Cherkasova/Shakrai looked like the anointed ones, having been world silver medalists in '79 to Babilonia/Gardner and winning the '80 Worlds crown. But, they completely fell apart by '81 Worlds, finishing off the podium. BTW, what was their back story? They just faded away.

    Vorobieva/Lisovski won the '81 Worlds crown fairly easily, but they also fell apart by '82 Worlds with a bad, sloppy performance and finished off the podium. The Carruthers' snuck ahead of them for the bronze. They disappeared after that.

    Pestova/Leonovich were bubbling underneath all the teams mentioned above, just missed the podium at Lake Placid '80 and popped up on the podium again at '82 Worlds, winning the silver behind Baess/Thierbach and when their teammates Vorobieva/Lisovski stumbled, but they were no longer relevant by Sarajevo '84. I think they had to sit out '83 due to an injury, and just never made it as a team again?

    Valova/Vasiliev broke out onto the scene by '83 and won worlds. I think what helped V/V a little was the fact that all the above teams were probably a bit unstable on the world stage for various reasons, much to the chagrin of the Soviet Fed., which was passionate about their Pairs program. They could throw their weight behind this team and it worked out...for a while until something 'better' came along: Gordeyeva/Grinkov

    Selezneva/Makarov were cool, inventive skaters cursed with competing behind V/V in the same time-frame and thus solidly but frustratingly #2 from '83 - '85. To make matters worse, they were pushed down further by the emergence of G/G. I often sensed frustration from S/M on-camera. They may have felt that no matter what they did, they were never going to beat either G/G or V/V. In fact , The Soviet Fed probably didn't care too much by '86 and their reaction was reflected in some of their performances.

    AS the '80s progressed, it looks like the USSR found the 'right' pairs [G/G and V/V] and things returned to normal - no more Soviet pairs jumping around in the standings year to year and it lasted until the end of the decade.

    BTW, didn't V/V and G/G trade titles in the early part of G/G's career. I seem to remember that one year [perhaps '86], G/G won Soviet Nats but V/V won Euros, then G/G got the world crown

    ETA - one top pair no one talks about is Riegel/Nischwitz from West Germany. They won '81 Worlds bronze IIRC. What happened to them?
    Last edited by olympic; 05-27-2011 at 03:11 PM.

  4. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by olympic View Post
    I always thought that the '80s era of Soviet pairs was fascinating wild ride, at least from a political perspective -

    Rodnina/Zaitzev competed in and of course won '80 Olympics, but she injured her shoulder and they didn't bother to go to '80 Worlds in Dortmund, and just retired.
    R&Z were absolutely in Dortmund and - so the story goes - wanted to compete. After all 11 world titles would have made her the most be-medalled skater ever. I don't know whether she was really injured or if they could have skated with the injury, but they were withdrawn, apparently against their wishes. Plans were put in place for them to skate a special exhibition during the gala but the ISU put a stop to it and when it was announced to the audience that they would after all not appear, there was a chorus of booing from the crowd.

    Quote Originally Posted by olympic View Post
    Cherkasova/Shakrai looked like the anointed ones, having been world silver medalists in '79 to Babilonia/Gardner and winning the '80 Worlds crown. But, they completely fell apart by '81 Worlds, finishing off the podium. BTW, what was their back story? They just faded away.
    As far as I know there were plans to pair her with someone taller. She simply outgrew him. I think they maybe competed at 1981/82 USSR Nationals but not sure on that.

    Quote Originally Posted by olympic View Post
    ETA - one top pair no one talks about is Riegel/Nischwitz from West Germany. They won '81 Worlds bronze IIRC. What happened to them?
    Loved Riegel and Nischwitz. She had wonderful knees and was cute as a button, but a knee injury pretty much ended her career in 1982.

  5. #25
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    I think VV were bad-ass in a lot of ways. I mean, Valova had to compete the 1988 Olys with a hole in her landing foot! And they still got a bronze. Plus they pushed the sbs triples. I do think they get a bit lost having come chronologically between Rodnina and GG, and they were victims of 1980s music/costumes (as so many skaters were). But I admire them a lot.

    It may be too because I know them both pretty well, and just like them as people. But I find them to be fairly remarkable.

    If any of you haven't heard my podcast with Oleg Vassiliev, it's worth a listen. The guy has confidence to spare, and some pretty great stories, especially about Valova's foot injury
    In my spare time, I like to interview figure skating legends.

  6. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by manleywoman View Post
    I think VV were bad-ass in a lot of ways. I mean, Valova had to compete the 1988 Olys with a hole in her landing foot! And they still got a bronze. Plus they pushed the sbs triples. I do think they get a bit lost having come chronologically between Rodnina and GG, and they were victims of 1980s music/costumes (as so many skaters were). But I admire them a lot.

    It may be too because I know them both pretty well, and just like them as people. But I find them to be fairly remarkable.

    If any of you haven't heard my podcast with Oleg Vassiliev, it's worth a listen. The guy has confidence to spare, and some pretty great stories, especially about Valova's foot injury
    They got silver at '88 Olys


    Good analysis of them, though. They were caught between the great R/Z, then G/G but they were the best at their peak '83 - '85.

    I think it would be great to see Vasiliev coach some promising US teams.

  7. #27
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    Ack! Of course. Sorry.
    In my spare time, I like to interview figure skating legends.

  8. #28
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    This thread asks a good question.

    I think V/V probably don't get enough credit for their impact on the sport. If you look at the pairs free skates from 1980, they really look quite different from what V/V were doing just a few years later. While the other top pairs deserve some of the credit too, I think of V/V as the team that really dragged pairs into the modern era of skating in terms of technical content and program structure (kind of like Kristi & Ito did for ladies a few years later).

    That said, I do agree that they are not in a league with the skaters you named in terms of their elegance or pair-ness.

    BTW, didn't V/V and G/G trade titles in the early part of G/G's career. I seem to remember that one year [perhaps '86], G/G won Soviet Nats but V/V won Euros, then G/G got the world crown.
    I kind of agree with judgejudy27 - for V/V to win after 86, they usually needed an error by G/G. V/V did sometimes win (like Worlds in 88), but I think G/G were unquestionably the world's top pair. V/V usually had more technical content (SBS triples while G/G were doing 2As, 2 throw triples while G/G were doing one triple & 2A), but G/G had everything else, and in pairs that counts for a lot. Basically, if G/G did their whole program clean, nobody was going to beat them.

  9. #29
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    If V/V had skated cleanly though they probably would have won in 86 it seems. They won Europeans earlier that year and didnt even skate that well, so it seems the balance of power didnt shift until after G/G won Worlds. I wonder if that were the case if they would have had a better shot of staying in front of G/G or would have been overtaken anyway. Then again skating like they did in Calgary for instance they would have no hope of winning regardless.

    V/V btw didnt even do a triple twist while G/G did a quad twist at one point, and G/G had harder lifts so I am not sure if V/V had more technical difficulty or not.

  10. #30

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    I posted the following before reading some of the other posts, particularly the ones just above this one. So some of this may sound repetitive.


    I think V&V were very underrated as a pair. They were the rightful world champions in their first appearance, repeat world champions (3x total?), Olympic champions in 1984 and they were second to only G&G in the 1988 Olympics. They beat G&G at the 1988 worlds.

    They brought a lot to pairs skating. They were perhaps the first pair in the 1980s to land sbs triples, throw triple toe (other pairs were doing throw double axels) and use creative choreography while most others were doing vanilla pairs elements. They were obviously good enough to stay on top for years, so they were no flash in the pan.

    They were upstaged by young Gordeeva-Grinkov, and I think their own fed may not have supported them after 1986. I liked their programs in the 1984 Olympics and the 1988 worlds LP performance was very good. As pros they did not have much success, mainly due to the dominance of Underhill-Martini.
    I thought V&V were often undermarked, but that's the way the pro competitions have always been.

    I also think they may have been hated outside of the USSR for being part of the USSR tradition in pairs skating. They were very good in many respects as far as skating was concerned, but they did not have the charm of G&G, the passion of M&D, and they did not have the balletic beauty of the Protopopovs or the beauty & lyricism of B&S. They were not purely athletic like Rodnina-Zaitsev either. I think that like V&V, T&M did not get the respect they deserved. However, T&M retired very soon and did not go through a pro career that was not particularly rewarding. V&V were around a long time but were never mentioned in the same breath as the other great Russian pairs that the original poster mentioned.

  11. #31
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    In pro events even the Carruthers regularly beat them which was kind of strange IMHO.

  12. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by judgejudy27 View Post
    In pro events even the Carruthers regularly beat them which was kind of strange IMHO.
    I didn't find any of their pro programs to be memorable, and they let down their technical skills once they turned pro. Granted the Carruthers were no artist on the ice but at least they had some really energetic pro numbers that got the crowd - and the judges - going. I did feel bad for V/V in the Dick's World Pro competitions though; They were former Olympic and World champion but yet were consistently placed in 3rd or lower.

  13. #33
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    Brasseur and Eisler in their book insinuate all of Dick Buttons events are fixed. The placements are decided before hand, and largely based on appearance fees and popularity of the skaters. Elizabeth Manley does as well. While I would take what Lloyd Eisler and Liz Manley say with a grain of salt only since they are known for the large chip they carry on their shoulders, it still isnt that far fetched to believe they are telling the truth either.

    Not just in pairs either. I dont think Hamill and Thomas deserved to win all the pro competitions they won either. In fact Biellmann was better than Thomas almost every year at the World Pros and lost all but once. I like Debi alot but most of the time as a pro she was undertrained and not really into it, her best pro performances were in her final months in fact. While Hamill was doing much easier jumps than Sumners and Fratianne were doing, even though none were doing triples, they were atleast doing double axels and more jumps than Hamill, and yet her marks would always be through the roof and by far the highest. Hamill was the one with an Olympic Gold unlike the other two who missed out on it, and Thomas was the most recent American star made famous by her rivalry with Witt, so I guess they just had to show up most of the time.

  14. #34
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    I do agree some results at World Pro were "fixed" in the sense that the judges had their favorites. For example, Debbie Thomas competing for the first time since her Calgary disappointment arguably did not deserve to win the title that year, but she got some 10s for one of those generic, boring, pretty princessy LP; However, regarding B/E and Liz Manley, their performances at the World Pro were not worthy of winning at all, in spite of what they thought of their performances.

  15. #35
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    Well Manley only competed at the World Pros once and admited she didnt skate well so I am pretty sure she never meant she deserved to win there (she complained about never being invited back after her poor debut though). Dick Button had other events besides the World Pros though, he had the Challenge of Champions, and didnt he have one or two others too. The World Pros was the only one I followed annually though so I am not sure how many of these others Manley was in or how she skated. Even if it doesnt relate to her (inspite of her feeling jaded), her comments could well relate to other skaters.

  16. #36

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    Quote Originally Posted by olympic View Post
    I always thought that the '80s era of Soviet pairs was fascinating wild ride, at least from a political perspective -

    Rodnina/Zaitzev competed in and of course won '80 Olympics, but she injured her shoulder and they didn't bother to go to '80 Worlds in Dortmund, and just retired.

    Cherkasova/Shakrai looked like the anointed ones, having been world silver medalists in '79 to Babilonia/Gardner and winning the '80 Worlds crown. But, they completely fell apart by '81 Worlds, finishing off the podium. BTW, what was their back story? They just faded away.

    Vorobieva/Lisovski won the '81 Worlds crown fairly easily, but they also fell apart by '82 Worlds with a bad, sloppy performance and finished off the podium. The Carruthers' snuck ahead of them for the bronze. They disappeared after that.

    Pestova/Leonovich were bubbling underneath all the teams mentioned above, just missed the podium at Lake Placid '80 and popped up on the podium again at '82 Worlds, winning the silver behind Baess/Thierbach and when their teammates Vorobieva/Lisovski stumbled, but they were no longer relevant by Sarajevo '84. I think they had to sit out '83 due to an injury, and just never made it as a team again?

    Valova/Vasiliev broke out onto the scene by '83 and won worlds. I think what helped V/V a little was the fact that all the above teams were probably a bit unstable on the world stage for various reasons, much to the chagrin of the Soviet Fed., which was passionate about their Pairs program. They could throw their weight behind this team and it worked out...for a while until something 'better' came along: Gordeyeva/Grinkov

    Selezneva/Makarov were cool, inventive skaters cursed with competing behind V/V in the same time-frame and thus solidly but frustratingly #2 from '83 - '85. To make matters worse, they were pushed down further by the emergence of G/G. I often sensed frustration from S/M on-camera. They may have felt that no matter what they did, they were never going to beat either G/G or V/V. In fact , The Soviet Fed probably didn't care too much by '86 and their reaction was reflected in some of their performances.

    AS the '80s progressed, it looks like the USSR found the 'right' pairs [G/G and V/V] and things returned to normal - no more Soviet pairs jumping around in the standings year to year and it lasted until the end of the decade.

    BTW, didn't V/V and G/G trade titles in the early part of G/G's career. I seem to remember that one year [perhaps '86], G/G won Soviet Nats but V/V won Euros, then G/G got the world crown

    ETA - one top pair no one talks about is Riegel/Nischwitz from West Germany. They won '81 Worlds bronze IIRC. What happened to them?
    Nice summary. I think what happened to those young upcoming Russian pairs was puberty/growth spurt for the lady. Their bodies could not adjust and they just faded away- particularly Cherkasova-Shakrai and Pestova-Leonovich(later he became famous as G&G's coach). Quite possibly V&V and S&M were the only ones that could handle the growth spurt, or may be they were not that young to begin with (I don't know their ages in that time frame). G&G's arrival on the scene pretty much ended S&M's career. In 1984 they had looked very promising and they were very good even in 1988, but like V&V they seemed to like that little extra something that the other great pairs had.

  17. #37
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    I think Valova & Vasiliev were an outstanding pair team, it wasn't just their record, as impressive as it was, but also their style on the ice. I do think that in the view of history, V&V have gotten lost in the shuffle between Rodnina & Zaitsev and (especially) Gordeeva & Grinkov. This is unfortunate, because while I don't consider V&V to be "legends" in the same way as the Protopopovs, Rodnina, G&G, M&D or B&S, they were epoch changing skaters in their own way.

    All of the great pair teams, in addition to being great skaters, have a unique style that distinguishes them from the others. With V&V, it was their ability to combine athleticism and artistry. As strong single skaters, they were able to perform the difficult (and rare) sbs triple jumps, more importantly though, they were the first pair to really become successful utilizing Moskvina's choreography on the international stage. What I consider to be the hallmark of Mosvkina's style: intricate choreography with a lot of interesting connecting moves and unique elements (such as the Valova somersault) really took off with V&V. V&V, in many ways set the stage for M&D, K&D and B&S to follow.

    As it was mentioned earlier, Elena & Oleg were sometimes victims of the weird and sometimes jarring muzak choices that were pretty much the hallmark of much of skating in the 80s, but the occasional music combo aside, they were a pretty great team. Their skate at the 1988 World Championships was amazing, especially since V&V were in G&G's shadow since 1986, what a great way to end their eligible career.

    BTW: the story of Valova competing in Calgary with a hole in her foot is freakin' impressive. Not, to mention, their rivals & teammates, Selezneva & Makarov were also dealing with the effects of a bad injury at the Calgary games-talk about your bad ass pair teams.

    So, to answer the original question: V&V, underrated & under-appreciated (?)-IMVHO, yes. In the same league as the very top tier pair teams, IMVHO-no, but still a great pair team, with a unique style that helped set the stage for the other pair teams to follow.
    Last edited by lulu; 12-26-2012 at 01:52 AM.

  18. #38
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    I think why most people like them less than the other pairs teams is because they miss the emotions, they don't bring across that special bond between people, romantically involved or not, there is always this special connection that audiences can feel too between the pairs skaters (and ice dancers) who are the most popular amongst more people. V/V lacked that imho.

    However, when I watched their programs for the first time (thanks to fsvids and later YouTube), I was surprised by their original choreography and they pulled it off well. It's one thing to have someone do the choreography for you, but you have to be able to perform it well or else it still doesn't work. V/V executed all their elements very well and performed the choreography very well too. I still enjoy watching their programs every now and then. Every time I watch I discover something new.

    If they could have let the audience feel their own emotions too, they could have been one of the greatest ever like G&G, M/D, K/D, B/S, etc. Now they are simply a great pair. Even that is an amazing accomplishment. How many people have won worlds and euros and Olympics?

  19. #39
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    Valova and Vassiliev look MUCH better to me in hindsight on YT now. Their 83 Worlds LP was pretty strong, and doing sbs 3toes put them over. Elena might have been a really nice person, but back in those Cold War-ish 80s days she looked like the stereotypical mean communist right out of central casting. I swear Uta Mueller played a communist spy in a James Bond movie, she also was straight out of central casting. Also, IMO they didn't skate with each other either as much as against each other. I laughed when Dick Button referred to her in Calgary as being "plump", she was ripped and couldn't have been more than 105 pounds. I mean, sure anyone compared to an 82# Gordeeva will look bigger, but plump? Gillian was always fighting her weight, but I didn't get that sense with Elena Valova. Their choices of music were so 80s, too bad.

  20. #40
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    I like them better than G&G and I always will.

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