Often called "Katia", Ekaterina Gordeeva was born in Moscow, Soviet Union (now Russia) to Alexander Alexeyevich Gordeev and Elena Levovna Gordeeva. She has a younger sister, Maria Alexandrovna Gordeeva (born 1975), who lives in Moscow. Gordeeva began skating at the age of four, in skates many sizes too big, wearing multiple pairs of socks because skates small enough for her feet were unavailable in the Soviet Union.
Gordeeva began figure skating at age four, when she entered Children and Youth Sports School of CSKA Moscow. She was not a particularly strong jumper, and in August 1981, coach Vladimir Zaharov paired the 10-year-old Gordeeva with the 14-year-old Sergei Grinkov. At one point, however, a coach insisted that Gordeeva pair with someone else, because Grinkov frequently missed practice. She refused. Instead, the pair changed coaches.
They won the 1985 World Junior Figure Skating Championships in Colorado Springs, Colorado. The following year they won the first of their four World Figure Skating Championships. They are one of the few pair teams to win back-to-back Junior and Senior World Championship titles. They successfully defended their World title in 1987 and then won gold at the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, in spite of a nasty accident. In November 1987, Grinkov caught a blade on the ice during a practice session and dropped Gordeeva on her forehead. She was hospitalized for a time, but they were still able to compete in, and win, the 1988 Winter Olympics which began the following February. They remain the youngest pairs team ever to win Olympic Gold. After a fall in their long program, they took silver at the World Championships in 1988, but reclaimed the title in 1989 and 1990. They turned professional in the fall 1990, winning their first World Professional Championship in 1991. They also won that title in 1992 and 1994.
Gordeeva and Grinkov won almost every competition they entered. In the 31 competitions whose results are known at the senior and professional levels, they finished first 24 times, and never lower than second from the time they won their first senior world title. They are one of the few pair teams in history to successfully complete a quadruple twist lift in international competition. They landed the difficult element with ease at the 1987 World Championships. They also completed the element at the 1987 European Championships, but due to a problem with Grinkov's boot strap and a misunderstanding about the rules (the referee signaled them to stop, going so far as to turn off their music but they continued skating), they were disqualified from that event. They stopped performing the quad twist because it was not significantly improving their marks, making the added physical stress unnecessary.
By 1989, the skating partnership had blossomed into romance. They shared their first kiss on New Year's Eve 1988. They were married in April 1991. Their state wedding was on April 20, and the church wedding was on April 28. From November 1991 through April 1992, they toured with Stars on Ice for the first time. On September 11, 1992, their daughter, Daria Sergeyevna Grinkova, was born in Morristown, New Jersey. Shortly after Daria's birth, Gordeeva recommenced training for the new season of Stars on Ice, which premiered in November 1992 and continued through the following April.
When a new ISU rule allowed professional skaters to regain their Olympic eligibility, the pair decided to return to amateur competition for the 1993-94 season and skate in the Olympics. In 1994, the couple won their second Olympic gold medal in Lillehammer, Oppland, Norway. Arguably the most influential, celebrated, and highly decorated pair team in the history of the sport, many consider them to be the greatest pair team ever to take the ice. They are often referred to simply as "G&G".
After the Olympics, the pair returned to professional skating and moved to Simsbury, Connecticut. During the 1994-95 season, they toured with Stars on Ice, this time as headliners. That year, Gordeeva was named one of the "50 Most Beautiful People" by People Magazine. That summer, Gordeeva and Grinkov were chosen for induction into the World Figure Skating Hall of Fame and the pair planned to return to Stars on Ice for their fourth season with the tour.
On November 20, 1995, Sergei Grinkov collapsed on the ice and died at age 28 from a massive heart attack. The pair were on the ice in Lake Placid, New York rehearsing for opening night of the upcoming tour. Doctors later discovered that Grinkov had a congenital heart condition which caused his death.
Sergei Grinkov was born in Moscow to Mikhail Kondrateyevich Grinkov and Anna Filipovna Grinkova. The younger of two children, he had an older sister named Natalia Mikhailovna Grinkova.
He first took the ice at the age of five, entering Children and Youth Sports School of CSKA in Moscow. As Grinkov was not a strong solo skater, his coach decided to try him in pair skating, and in August 1981, at age fourteen, he was paired with ten-year-old Ekaterina Gordeeva at the Central Red Army Club (CSKA) in Moscow by coach Vladimir Zaharov.
The pair won the 1985 World Junior Championship in Colorado Springs, Colorado. The following year they won the first of their four World Figure Skating Championships. They became repeat world champions the following year and won gold at the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary, Alberta. They remain the youngest pairs team ever to win Olympic Gold.
After a fall in their long program, they took silver at the World Championships in 1988, but they reclaimed that title in 1989 and successfully defended it again in 1990. They turned professional in the fall of 1990. They won their first World Professional Championship in 1991, and went on to win that title two more times (1992 and 1994).
Gordeeva & Grinkov won virtually every competition they entered. In the 31 competitions they completed at the Senior and professional levels, they finished first 24 times and finished off the podium only once; from the time they won their first World Championships, they never placed lower than silver and took gold in all but four of the competitions they completed. They are one of the few pair teams in history to successfully complete a quadruple twist lift in international competition, at the 1987 World Championships. They also completed the difficult maneuver at the 1987 European Championships, but due to a problem with Grinkov's boot strap and a misunderstanding about the rules, they were disqualified from that event.
By 1989, their skating partnership had blossomed into romance. They married in April 1991 (the state wedding was on April 20, the church wedding was on April 28).
The following season was the first year they toured with Stars on Ice. They skated throughout the United States and Canada with the show, which ran from November 1991 through April 1992. On September 11, 1992, Gordeeva gave birth to their daughter, Daria Sergeyevna Grinkova (nicknamed "Dasha"), in Morristown, New Jersey. Shortly after Daria's birth, the pair was back on the ice training for the new season of Stars on Ice, which debuted that November and ran through April 1993.
In 1994, Gordeeva and Grinkov took advantage of a one-time rule change that allowed professional skaters to regain their Olympic eligibility. Skaters in every discipline, including G&G, returned to Olympic competition. Gordeeva and Grinkov captured their second gold medal at the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer, Oppland, Norway. They were the only reinstated skaters to win gold. After these Olympics, they returned to professional skating and took up residence, along with their daughter, in Simsbury, Connecticut. During the 1994-95 season, they toured again with Stars on Ice, this time as headliners. They won the World Professional Championships for the third time in December 1994, earning ten perfect 10s (and nothing lower than a 9.9). Their last competition was at the 1995 Challenge of Champions, which took place on January 7, 1995 in Tokyo, Japan where they skated to Verdi's "Requiem Mass". They won, earning four perfect 10s in their artistic mark. In the fall of 1995, they were preparing new programs and getting ready to return to Stars on Ice for a fourth season. On November 12, 1995, they appeared in an exhibition called Skates of Gold III in Albany, New York. They skated two numbers: Verdi's "Requiem Mass", and the Rolling Stones' "Out of Tears". It would be their final public performance together.
On November 20, 1995 Grinkov collapsed and died from a massive heart attack in Lake Placid, New York, while he and Gordeeva were practicing for the upcoming 1995–1996 Stars on Ice tour. Doctors found that Grinkov had severely clogged coronary arteries (to the point where his arterial opening was reportedly the size of a pinhole), which caused the heart attack; later testing revealed that he also had a genetic risk factor linked with premature heart attacks. The risk factor is called the PLA-2 variant and is also known as the "Grinkov Risk Factor". Grinkov was 28 years old. His wife was 24 and their daughter was 3 years old.
Grinkov is interred in the Vagan'kovskoye Cemetery in Moscow. Gordeeva, his widow, along with an all-star cast, skated a tribute in his honor titled "Celebration of a Life" in February 1996, which was later televised. Gordeeva also authored a book about their life and partnership titled My Sergei: A Love Story, which was later turned into a television movie/docudrama titled "My Sergei" and released on DVD. He was also the subject of a book, geared towards the 9–12 age group, titled They died too young: Sergei Grinkov written by Anne E. Hill.
Gordeeva and Grinkov have garnered significant mention in numerous books about the world of figure skating, and Grinkov was featured as one of the athletes in People magazine's book, Gone Too Soon. Fans around the world continue to commemorate Grinkov and G&G, and their skating lives on in countless videos available online and commercially. They are frequently mentioned during telecasts of pairs skating competitions, and even made their way to number 4 on Sports Illustrated's 2009 Thrill List: Figure Skating.
Sergei's father predeceased him. Sergei's mother died in Moscow in 2000. His sister and niece still live in Russia. Gordeeva and Daria now reside in Southern California. Daria took up skating seriously at the age of 9, appearing with her mother in several skating shows from 2003–2007, but quit skating to pursue other interests in 2007. Gordeeva remarried in 2002. She and her second husband, fellow Russian skater Ilia Kulik, have a daughter named Elizaveta.
She has had a long and successful career as a solo artist, and continues to skate professionally as well as pursuing coaching and choreography. In the fall of 2007, she was the headliner for "Skate for the Heart" a skating show televised nationally in the United States with the goal of raising awareness of heart disease. She skated in honor of Grinkov. She starred in the show a second time in 2008, this time dedicating her performance to her late father who, like Sergei, died of a sudden heart attack in 2008.