Most skating fans know the tragic story; in November 1995, while training with coach Marina Nueva and partner and wife Ekaterina “Katia” Goordeeva in Lake Placid for the Stars on Ice tour’s traditional opening show, Sergei Grinkov collapsed in the US rink. Initially reports suggested that he collapsed, but later reports stated that he “dropped to the ice gently”, sitting down after feeling dizzy. He passed away a little over an hour later after being transported to the Adirondack Medical Center nearby. Cause of death was found to be a heart attack; Grinkov was only 28 years old.
Gordeeva and Grinkov, called “G&G” by their fans, are considered one of the greatest pairs teams of all time, and as stated by Dick Button in this New York Times article :
“They were the quintessentially perfect pair,” said Dick Button, the two-time Olympic champion. “They had the strength, power and flow that so many skaters at the top of the world simply don’t have. He was superb in holding himself back to highlight the efforts of his partner. You could always see him pointing the focus of your eye to her.”
Grinkov’s sudden death was a shock to all the cast members, and the show was postponed.
As stated in Barry Wilner’s book “Stars on Ice: An Intimate Look at Skating’s Greatest Tour”:
Sergei was buried in Moscow on the same day Stars on Ice was to debut for the season in Lake Placid. The cast had continued rehearsing, then everyone left upstate New York for Thanksgiving weekend. When they returned, their heavy hearts told them the right thing to do. “We have to put on a great show for Sergei and Katia,” Scott said. Then days after Sergei’s death, the 1995-96 tour debuted at the Olympic Center in Lake Placid. “We couldn’t get it done fast enough, and I hope you understand,” Scott told the crowd. “What we’re presenting on Sergei’s shoulders, is the best we’ve got, and I’m sure it’s going to be good enough. We’re going to give you something real special.” The show’s first act closed with a tearful introduction by Scott of “G&G,” inviting the spectators to close their eyes and imagine the pair was on the ice. Grieg’s “Concerto in A Minor,” the music to which Katia and Sergei would have skated, echoed throughout the arena.”
These poignant moments have become part of Stars on Ice–and figure skating–history. Later, Gordeeva wrote “My Sergei-A Love Story” about her relationship with Grinkov.