Ice dancing's most golden duo: Grishuk and PlatovSole two-time Olympic dance champs speak about triumphs, state of sport
Nearly 16 years have passed since Oksana Grishuk and Evgeni Platov won gold in Nagano, Japan, making them the only duo in Olympic history to win two gold medals in ice dancing. Despite the passage of time, the Olympic flame still burns within these two ferocious competitors.
"As soon as I see Olympic rings anywhere, that's bringing me something, a memory," said Platov, 46, who will be at the boards in Sochi with British ice dancers Penny Coomes and Nicholas Buckland, his third trip to the Olympics as a coach. "Of course, when I see and feel Olympics, I get nostalgic and excited."
Grishuk, 42, said what she misses most about competition is the appreciation and respect from people around the world. She and Platov went undefeated for four years between Lillehammer and Nagano -- winning four world championships, three European titles and numerous other competitions. The Olympic victories hold a special place.
"Title of an Olympic champion is much stronger," she noted. "It is like you are chosen as the best athlete on the planet in your sport, and it stays with you forever.
"Both medals were super special but had different effects on me," she added. "I had to admit that there were many amazing teams there, and winning gold over all of them was such a huge victory. Also, meeting incredible people from all over the planet who were putting their souls and hearts into sport, and sport bringing people together."
As Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir of Canada aim to equal Grishuk and Platov's achievements and Americans Meryl Davis and Charlie White try to achieve their own piece of history, the veterans offer some thoughts on the difference between ascending the top step of the podium the first time and making a return appearance.
"To defend Olympic medal, I would say I have no words to explain how big the weight on your shoulders is," Platov said.
When asked what made their own skating stand out, Grishuk and Platov gave similar answers: speed, edge quality, consistency and chemistry.
"Technique can be cleaned in a couple of years. Chemistry makes you stand out," Platov said. "If we look at Olympics, we were the fastest. ... Oksana was unique in her technique. It was special. She was born twizzling."
In 1994, they defeated Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean in a come-from-behind victory.
"Beautiful feeling that you're coming up and you beat the legends," Platov said. "After first win, we were happy -- laughing and smiling. In Nagano, we saw the marks. And when we realized we won, we literally cried so loud and hard that we start laughing after."
Platov and Grishuk also competed at the 1992 Olympics in Albertville, finishing fourth. He said the Olympics are massive and athletes realize the scope when they arrive at the Olympic Village. Watching Coomes and Buckland experience it for the first time in Vancouver (where he also coached Sinead Kerr and John Kerr) was great fun to watch.
Grishuk is not as involved in skating on a daily basis. The mother of an 11-year-old daughter, Skyler Marie Grace, she's selective with her time and teaches and choreographs when a project interests her.
"Ice dancing these days needs some changes," she said. "Of course, many dance teams make it look so beautiful with their unique personalities and styles, but the rules part of ice dancing is not so creative and needs some renovations.
"Every team has its own amazing style, and they are all different," she added. "I also like some other teams that are placed lower, like, for example, Elena Ilinykh and Nikita Katsalapov (second at the European championships). I spent a very short time working with them, and those two young people are amazingly talented and absolutely magnificent on the ice. You can't take your eyes off them when they skate."
Platov concurred that current rules preclude a team from doing something utterly individual, like Torvill and Dean's "Bolero" or his and Grishuk's "Memorial Requiem."
"When skaters, coaches and choreographers manage to put even with these very hard rules, all these elements we have -- twizzles and step sequences -- on the music, you forget the required elements," he said. "Americans and Canadians, they're really ahead of everybody, and everybody understands that.
"There's going to be an amazing fight, and nobody knows who's going to win it," he continued. "These two couples, they fulfill all the rules. They're doing everything pretty much perfect."