M&D's Technical Program from the 1992 World Professional Championships. The music is Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini by Sergei Rachmaninov
Natalia Mishkutenok & Artur Dmitriev
Oksana Kazakova & Artur Dmitriev
^^Their story was sad. I saw a fluff piece (don't know if it is the same one as mentioned in previous post) where Natalia was in love with Artur but he got someone else pregnant and married her. It happened between Albertville and Lillehammer. I don't know if they ever had a romantic relationship or if her feelings were just never reciprocated, but that had to be horrible for her. And I remember Artur and Tamara discussing the situation and trying to decide how and when they would tell Natalia that Artur was getting married and having a baby. If she was "moody" this might have explained it.
The privilege of a lifetime is being who you are--Joseph Campbell
According to Artur he waited until they won the gold medal to tell her. He told her on the bus back to the Olympic village. Even if Natalia was not Gordeeva tiny Artur should not have publicly complained about Natalia's weight. Natalia is about the size of Tessa today.
Nevertheless I am a huge fan M&D and still get chills when watching them.
Part of M&D's charm was that Natalia was not as tiny as other pairs ladies, but she was so flexible and so unique in her movements and expression, and Artur had such passion and presence that it made M&D a very special pair, different from any that preceded them.
"Corporation, n. An ingenious device for obtaining individual profit without individual responsibility." - Ambrose Bierce
I recall commentators mentioning how heavily Artus smoked as a young man and competitor, and what an effort (naturally) it was for him to stop (or taper at least) his smoking in order to get in appropriate shape for the competitive season; especially the 1994 comeback.
So it's not like Artur really had so much over Natalia in terms of fitness as an athlete. She struggled with her weight; he struggled with smoking. Maybe those lifts would have been easier if he'd had better stamina and conditioning.
I definitely felt Artur & Tamara were too hard on Natalia--just not very nice to her. I mean, first there was the thing of Artur concealing his marriage, then there were the public comments about her weight later on. Of course, if Natalia was really in love with Artur, that may have created a lot of difficulty in the day-to-day training. But I've always wondered if that was even true. Wasn't Natalia dating Alexei Urmanov during that time period? At any rate, everyone has moods, I just have always questioned this portrayal of Natalia as being "difficult," any more so than many creative/high-powered individuals. It could have been as simple as Artur & Tamara just got along better, and Natalia became the odd man out.
Your last sentence may have been the most accurate. It seems Tamara and Artur always got along very well, even when he skated with Oksana. It was that bond that may have made his partnerships so successful, but clearly Oksana's personality did not get in the way. IMO Oksana was more extroverted than Natalia, and that may have suited Artur better. There may have been a personality conflict when he was skating with Natalia. I think she was a shy and sensitive person and Artur may not have been that sensitive, but when they skated together, they seemed like such a perfect fit.
In one fluff I remember Tamara saying that after winning the 92 OGM Natalia felt lost, like what do I now? It happens to many after they achieve their biggest goal. They don't know what to live for, and it showed in their conflict when they skated as pros. They were not as magical as they were in 91 & 92. When they came back though (in 94) I thought they were better than ever.
M&D was a magical pair that comes along once in several decades.
Tamara and Artur definitely seemed like they had a perfect coach and student bond, and that their personalities and ambitions were so much alike. It probably takes a certain peresonality to be in the midst of that 3 way relationship of coach, skater, and skater, and not feel bothered by being the odd duck in a way. Oksana did seem more extroverted, carefree, and easy going than Natalia, so that situation was probably easier for her to slide by and not be bothered with than it was for Natalia who always seemed a more emotional and sensitive person to me. Oksana was probably thrilled to even be brought in the situation, and since she was not a champion caliber pairs skater when she was first teamed with Artur both Tamara and Artur probably gave her alot of special care at first (they definitely did as they even spoke about it often), and that probably helped too.
I think Natalia's not being tiny worked in M&D's favor because what they lacked a bit in throws and lifts they made up for in creative spirals and spins. I love their variations on the death spiral. Just so creative and different from what pairs were doing back in the day.
Thank you so much for starting this thread! I had only ever seen M/D's LP from Lillehammer, but now I have all these gems right here to enjoy!
Natalia had excellent basic skating skills too. Deep edges, excellent spins, ability to hold form while jumping/twisting. I loved her death spiral -- maybe the best ever. Glad to hear she's a pretty successful coach.
I think Artur's form sometimes lagged -- he was sloppier. But he had energy and passion. It was a great if odd combo.
I thought Miskutienok & Dmitriev were the more strong in artistic of the two, while Kazahkova & Dmitriev were the more strong in technical. So combine the two it makes them about equal.
Disagree that K/D were stronger technically. Oksana had more consistency on her SBS jumps. But in terms of basic skating skills, Natalia was by far the stronger skater -- she had deeper edges, faster, more centered spins, better form, was able to generate speed. Just look at the difference in their death spirals or SBS spins.
This is an analogy that might get me in trouble but Oksana reminds me of Meryl Davis -- small, light, hard-working, but not inherently an interesting skater. Natalia reminds me more of Tessa Virtue -- larger, with a more "troublesome" build, more inconsistent, but a great basic skater.