Ludmila Belousova passed away today at the age of 81. With her husband and skating partner, she won two Olympic gold medals and four World Championships in the 1960’s. They were the first Soviet or Russian pair to win the Olympics, starting the longest streak in Olympic history, in any sport. (Soviet or Russian pairs won every Olympic gold from 1964 through 2006.)
Known for their balletic lines and creativity, the Protopopovs invented variations on the death spiral. Their influence is seen in the sport to this day, although the perfection of their unison is unrivaled, even now.
The Protopopovs eventually defected to Switzerland and became Swiss citizens. They split their time between Switzerland and Lake Placid, New York.
A true inspiration for ageing gracefully and never giving up on your passions, the Protopopovs continued to perform in shows until quite recently, always retaining their beautiful lines and elegance. Every pair competing today could learn a lot about basic skills and presentation from these amazing legends. Their marriage of nearly 60 years is an inspiration to all.
Ludmila’s beauty and grace will be missed, and my thoughts and prayers are with Oleg.
A lovely tribute, including an old interview, can be found here.