After spending the last couple of weeks profiling Japanese skaters in my tribute to the people of Japan, for the next week or so, I'm going to focus on highlighting some exquisite ice dancing routines. I have a tribute to Japan part 2 in mind, but that will come a bit later down the road. I want to change things up, and there's nothing more refreshing and invigorating to the spirit than watching sublimely beautiful dancing on ice.
The first program that came to mind for me was Marina Klimova and Sergei Ponomarenko's 1991-1992 freedance to Johann Sebastian Bach's "Air from Suite No.3" and "Toccata and Fugue in D-Minor." Bach's music is emotional, haunting, grand and soft all at once, making it a unique blend of beauty that mirrors all that makes up the sport and the art of ice dance.
Marina and Sergei, a married couple from Moscow Russia (who now reside and coach in California), had an incredible amateur career that spanned from the early 1980s until the early 1990s, in which they steadily climbed up the ranks. They won the Olympic bronze medal in the 1984 Olympics in Sarajevo, the silver medal at the 1988 Olympics in Calgary, and finally the coveted gold medal at the 1992 Olympics in Albertville. Along the way, they also amassed eight World Championship medals (five silvers and three golds), and seven European Championship medals (three silvers, four golds).
Though I did ever see them compete as amateurs, I saw them skate many times as professionals, both on TV, and once on Champions on Ice, and was always blown away by their dynamic, dramatic, passion-infused programs. This 1992 Olympic freeskate is a perfect example of that. It is art come to life; a magnificent artistic achievement that I haven't seen matched in the Olympics since perhaps Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir's ethereal freeskate in Vancouver last February. (Tessa and Scott do not have a bold, dramatic style, like Marina and Sergei, but their athletic and artistic virtuosity moved me in the same way that this Klimova and Ponomarenko program does. Both are stunning displays of excellence and heart.)
A comment from a viewer of this video on You Tube sums this program up best: "One of the most passionate, seamless, and elegant free dances ever performed, to one of the most beautiful pieces of music ever."
Marina and Sergei represent all that is superb about ice dancing.
Enjoy this masterpiece of Olympic proportions!
If you enjoyed that Marina and Sergei performance, check out their "Romeo and Juliet" program that I featured in my 12 Days of Christmas countdown in December: