Press Release

Lake Placid honors figure skating legends

Protopopovs to be celebrated in Lake Placid

The careers of Lyudmila and Oleg Protopopov will be celebrated in Lake Placid.
The careers of Lyudmila and Oleg Protopopov will be celebrated in Lake Placid. (STAFF/AFP/Getty Images)

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(08/18/2011) - LAKE PLACID, N.Y. --- The Village of Lake Placid, N.Y. and the Skating Club of Lake Placid will celebrate the careers and achievements of pairs figure skating icons Lyudmila and Oleg Protopopov during a special figure skating show, Saturday, Sept. 3, to be held in the Olympic Center's 1980 Rink Herb Brooks Arena.

Local village and town officials will also present the pair with a joint proclamation from the Village of Lake Placid and the Town of North Elba, along with the esteemed Key to the Village of Lake Placid. In addition to a USFS presentation, New York State Olympic Regional Development Authority (ORDA) president/CEO Ted Blazer will present and honor the couple with an Olympic Regional Development Authority Executive Office Citation commending the skaters on their excellence and dedication to building upon such a wonderful sporting tradition throughout the years.

The event begins at 7 p.m. Admission for adults will be $10 and $8 for junior and seniors. All proceeds from this event to benefit the Skating Club of Lake Placid (SCLP).

Ludmilla Belousova and Oleg Protopopov are beloved around the world and are best know for their romance and artistry on the ice. Their beauty of line and perfection of unity, along with their harmony with the music, have often been emulated by many pairs' teams but duplicated by few. Many pairs innovations have been attributed directly to them including but not limited to the lovely "death spiral" which they feel should be more aptly named the "cosmic" spiral.

The Protopopovs were six-time USSR National Champions, 1965, 1966, 1967 and 1968 world and European Champions and two-time Olympic champions in 1964 and 1968. Additionally, after retiring from eligible competition, they went on to become four-time world professional champions.

In 1979 Oleg and Ludmilla defected from the then Soviet Union to seek asylum in Switzerland, which is now their winter home and where they hold citizenship. Lake Placid holds the happy distinction to be the summer home of the Protopopovs as well as their training center.

Featured Skaters:
• 1984 Olympic Bronze medalists and World competitor in pairs from the former USSR Larisa Selezneva and Oleg Markarov
• 1980 Olympic ice dance competitor and 3-time Canadian ice dance Champion Lorna Wighton-Aldridge • 2007 Swiss Ice Dance Champion David De Fazio

These skaters represent the past and present of the Protopopovs.

Oleg and Larisa, like the Protpopovs, represented the former Soviet Union in their international career, where as David, along with his former partner Nora von Bergen represented Switzerland, the country that Ludmilla and Oleg now call home.

As a special tribute Lorna Wighton-Aldridge and David De Fazio will team up for this performance and she, his former ice dance coach in Lake Placid and he, her former student, will skate to a musical selection from the Protopopovs' 1964 Olympic program.

Selezneva and Markarov will skate to music from the 1968 Olympic Champions long program.

"As life-long ambassadors of figure skating, the Protopopovs have been exemplary in maintaining the integrity and the purity of the sport," said De Fazio. "I have been truly blessed, to have known them on both a personal and professional level."

Special Guest:
1948 & 1952 Olympic Champion Richard "Dick" Button was the first man from the United States to win an Olympic title. Button, first performed the double axle at the '48 Games in St. Mortiz and then as a repeat winner at the 1952 Oslo Olympics, he unveiled the triple loop jump. Button trained in Lake Placid with Coach Gus Lussi.