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  1. #1
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    The five-time Olympians - will they be the only ones ever, forever?

    Whenever the Olympics come around, I can't help but think about the only dance team I've ever loved more than Meryl and Charlie - Margarita Drobiazko and Povilas Vanagas. They are the only figure skaters in the history of the sport who made it to 5 Olympic Games. It's pretty impressive.

    Do you think it is still possible for anyone to equal them? I mean, first off they were kind of lucky cause there was only a two-year cycle between 1992 and 1994, secondly skaters tend to retire at a much younger age than they used to in Rita and Povilas's times. I mean, ok, Plushenko and Joubert are on their way to their 4th Games, but they're already considered veterans way past their primetime, whereas D/V competed in 2006 like happy shiny 20-year-olds. Do you think the sport is getting too hard and demanding for anyone to ever come close to D/V's achievement?

    Anyway, I just kinda wanted to bring this amazing fact to the light of day. What makes me sad is that probably the only reason that they did go to 5 Olympics was that they were chasing a dream that never came true (although probably should have). I loved this team to pieces and to this day, even after all these years, my heart still breaks when I think of all the times they were undermarked, all the medals they should've won but didn't.

    So here it is - the Drobiazko/Vanagas appreciation thread, with a question mark whether someone will ever equal their 5 Olympic trips.

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    Lloyd Eisler went to four games without being considered "a veteran way past his prime."

    My question is: is 4-5 trips to the Olympics more or less unusual in other sports (winter and summer) than in figure skating? I don't see figure skating being as conducive to athletes wanting to return multiple times to the games. It's not like swimming or track and field where your enemy #1 is the clock, a distance jumped/thrown or other objective measure, where besting yourself is a major motivational tool and factor.

    Edit: I also think that being an ice dancer takes less of a toll on the body (and has a lower risk of serious injury than, say, pairs) and makes it a easier to make it to 4-5 games.

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    There's an Australian speed skater (not Bradbury!) who did six. Actually, he was at the sixth as the coach of the Australian team, but was so disgusted by the performances of his team that he strapped his speed skates back on at the age of 40-something and qualified faster. (the more you know from under drink lids!)

    I think for a singles skater to make five, they would have to debut bang on 16, and be miraculously injury free, and then defy all norms for their last Olympics at 32. The minimum age makes it very unlikely anyone will do it, but the prospect of successfully doing triples (or in the men's case, quads) for five Olympiads without major injury is almost completely impossible.

    Look at Plushenko. No guarantees he'll make his fourth Olympics, and his body is so battered that he is giving up immediately afterward.

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    Jan Hoffmann made it to four Winter Games. Love this video of him, at age 12, competing at the 1968 games in Grenoble, France:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0pFP23B_qQg
    "I hit him with my shoes... if he had given me the medal like I told him to, I wouldn't have had to hit him!" -- 8-year-old Rhoda Penmark in "The Bad Seed"

  5. #5
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    The 1992/1994 thing definitely gives D&V an advantage that would make it hard for anyone to repeat.

    Others who skated in the Olympics from 1994-2006 were Elena Liashenko and Tatiana Navka (Min Zhang did too but he missed 1998; hope I didn't miss anyone else). D&V were able to compete in 1992 because Lithuania wasn't part of the CIS like Ukraine and Belarus were. They would not have made the CIS team otherwise. Navka & Gezalian had gold at Skate America and Nation's Cup in 1991-92 and surely would've made the team had Belarus existed. Liashenko would've been 15 in 1992 and might have made the Ukranian team. I can't find any results on her from that time, but it is said that Baiul went from not being able to make the Soviet team to being World Champion, so I think Liashenko not making the CIS team wouldn't bar her from being tops in Ukraine. She came 6th at 1994 Worlds so she was already a pretty strong skater.

    Plushenko is close. He went to 1998 Worlds and won bronze so I guess he would've been on the Olympic team if only they had 3 spots (Urmanov did not compete in the 1997-98 season) so Sochi could've been his fifth.

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    Quote Originally Posted by unchat123 View Post
    My question is: is 4-5 trips to the Olympics more or less unusual in other sports (winter and summer) than in figure skating? I don't see figure skating being as conducive to athletes wanting to return multiple times to the games. It's not like swimming or track and field where your enemy #1 is the clock, a distance jumped/thrown or other objective measure, where besting yourself is a major motivational tool and factor.
    There are sports where a long career looks more possible than in others. I know two Finnish athletes who went to six winter olympics. One was an ice hockey player (Raimo Helminen) and the other a cross country skier Marja-Liisa Kirvesniemi who was a mother of two in her last games in 1994.

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    Pang/Tong and Aliona Savchenko will also be in their fourth Olympics (Savchenko competed in 2002 with Stanislav Morozov). BTW, Joubert was the youngest French Olympian at those games, and now, of course, he's a veteran competitor. Shen and Zhao did four and age-wise could have done 5 if they'd been good enough to compete in 1994; they did do Worlds that year.

    While five Olympics would be tough - D/V might not have been able to do it without the two-year gap between Albertville and Lillehammer - it could be done. I think the most likely scenario would be a skater from outside the major skating powers who won't have much competition, so that it's possible to start young and continue/come back later on. It would probably be more realistic in dance and pairs, but is doable in singles, too - someone like Denis Ten, who debuted young and doesn't have any real in-country competition for Olympic spots could be a candidate.

    Fencing, sailing, shooting and equestrian sports are the most conducive to long Olympic careers, apparently, and of the winter sports, cross-country skiing. And if you're a two-sport athlete like Clara Hughes, you have a shot at both winter and summer games.
    Last edited by Zemgirl; 08-28-2013 at 07:15 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mia joy View Post
    W

    D. I loved this team to pieces and to this day, even after all these years, my heart still breaks when I think of all the times they were undermarked, all the medals they should've won but didn't.

    S
    I still remember in the KNC when they lost the bronze to C/S Margarita taking the paper crown off her head when they realised they hadn't won
    Last edited by nuge; 08-28-2013 at 08:33 PM.

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    Awww, D/V At last, they are first!
    Last edited by Loves_Shizuka; 08-28-2013 at 11:33 AM.

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    Hmm if the skater goes to his first Olympics at 16, he will be 32 at his 5th Olympics. Probably not very likely for singles.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zemgirl View Post
    Pang/Tong and Aliona Savchenko will also be in their fourth Olympics (Savchenko competed in 2002 with Stanislav Morozov). BTW, Joubert was the youngest French Olympian at those games, and now, of course, he's a veteran competitor. Shen and Zhao did four and age-wise could have done 5 if they'd been good enough to compete in 1994; they did do Worlds that year.
    Thanks for that. For some reason I completely forgot about these pairs. So is it most likely that if someone ever does it, it will be a pair skater? I mean, it's not completely impossible for a pair skater to be 16, even 18 at their first Olys and 32-34 at their last.
    I'd say it's pretty impossible for singles. For dance teams, well, who knows. The age dance teams enter the senior level is getting lower and lower, but they do not stick around until past their 30s anymore either.

    Quote Originally Posted by nuge View Post
    I still remember in the KNC when they lost the gold to C/S Margarita taking the paper crown off her head when they realised they hadn't won
    You mean bronze? They riddiculously lost bronze to Chait/Sakhnovski at the 2002 Worlds. Everyone thought bronze was the least they could get, with A/P and F-P/M absent. Losing to C/S was like a punch in the face for them, it was so out of the blue.

  12. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by mia joy View Post
    Thanks for that. For some reason I completely forgot about these pairs. So is it most likely that if someone ever does it, it will be a pair skater? I mean, it's not completely impossible for a pair skater to be 16, even 18 at their first Olys and 32-34 at their last.
    I'd say it's pretty impossible for singles. For dance teams, well, who knows. The age dance teams enter the senior level is getting lower and lower, but they do not stick around until past their 30s anymore either.
    I do think it's far more likely that a pairs skater or ice dancer would be able to accomplish this, but I figure a singles skater could too - probably it would need to be a freak of nature like Plushenko or, as I wrote earlier, someone with little in-country competition, and they'd probably have to take some breaks from competition, but it is doable. Just not very likely.

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    Laetitia Hubert did four (1992, 1994, 1998, 2002) as did Elena Liashenko (1994, 1998, 2002, 2006)... I'm trying to think of who else off hand.

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    Quote Originally Posted by N_Halifax View Post
    Laetitia Hubert did four (1992, 1994, 1998, 2002) as did Elena Liashenko (1994, 1998, 2002, 2006)... I'm trying to think of who else off hand.
    Peggy Schwarz 1988, 1992, 1994, 1998.

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    Quote Originally Posted by N_Halifax View Post
    Laetitia Hubert did four (1992, 1994, 1998, 2002) as did Elena Liashenko (1994, 1998, 2002, 2006)... I'm trying to think of who else off hand.
    Julia Sebestyen (1998, 2002, 2006, 2010). Tatiana Navka (1994, 1998, 2002, 2006) has already been mentioned, but it's worth pointing out that she did so with three different partners, representing two different countries, and had a baby in the middle!

    Also, Gillis Grafström
    Last edited by Zemgirl; 08-28-2013 at 01:10 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Zemgirl View Post
    Tatiana Navka (1994, 1998, 2002, 2006) has already been mentioned, but it's worth pointing out that she did so with three different partners, representing two different countries, and had a baby in the middle!


    Never understimate the power of a headband

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    Quote Originally Posted by N_Halifax View Post
    Laetitia Hubert did four (1992, 1994, 1998, 2002) as did Elena Liashenko (1994, 1998, 2002, 2006)... I'm trying to think of who else off hand.
    Shen and Zhao--1998, 2002, 2006, 2010

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    Drobiazko & Vanagas actually peaked for their 4th Olympics in 2002. It was the only one they were actual medal contenders at (although in hindsight coming nowhere near beating a team for the bronze who fell, and finishing behind another who fell, they probably werent medal contender). In 2006 they werent medal contender really, those were N&K, D&S Bulgarian, D&S French, G&G, D&L, B&A, and maybe F-P&M, but they were very strong competitors, and probably atleast what they were in 98. So considering all the Olympics they competed at they were very strong as time went on.

    2014 should be Plushenkos 4th Olympics but insane Russian depth and the fluke of only 2 spots kept him out of the 98 Games. He is definitely past his prime but might have an outside shot at a bronze in Sochi if he makes it there in once piece which shows remarkable longevity. He is probably atleast as competitive as D&V were in 2010, but he just started at a much higher standard to begin with.

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    Quote Originally Posted by unchat123 View Post
    Lloyd Eisler went to four games without being considered "a veteran way past his prime."

    My question is: is 4-5 trips to the Olympics more or less unusual in other sports (winter and summer) than in figure skating? I don't see figure skating being as conducive to athletes wanting to return multiple times to the games. It's not like swimming or track and field where your enemy #1 is the clock, a distance jumped/thrown or other objective measure, where besting yourself is a major motivational tool and factor.

    Edit: I also think that being an ice dancer takes less of a toll on the body (and has a lower risk of serious injury than, say, pairs) and makes it a easier to make it to 4-5 games.
    The only way it could happen today, in a strong country, is if it were an ice dance team. No freestyle skater in the US, Russia or Japan could be that fit, doing 3/3's and quads, for 20 years. In a less-competitive country where you don't need 3/3's and quads to make the team, it might be possible, but you also have to meet the minimum score.

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    Sonja Henie ( like Gilles Grafstrom) attended 4 Olympics...1924/28/32/36...and won 3

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