There are few skaters in history that possess such ethereal beauty and grace as Ekaterina “Katia” Gordeeva. Like a quiet ballerina, she floats on the ice seemingly in a world of her own creation, and we are the lucky participants, fortunate enough to be touched by her soulful athleticism. It is with her former partner and late husband, the great Sergei Grinkov, that Katia first seduced the world with her elegance. In their thirteen years together, they came to define pair skating, lifting the sport to new heights, artistically and athletically. With a style all their own, Gordeeva and Grinkov made a name for themselves as the most recognizable pair team ever from the former Soviet Union.
Born May 28, 1971 to Elena and Alexander Gordeev, Katia’s life seemed blessed from the start. Her father was a dancer with the Moiseev Dance Company, a world-famous folk dancing troupe. It is perhaps from him that Katia derives her single-minded determination and graceful flair. Alexander instilled in his daughter a remarkable work ethic that has served Katia well in her career. Even as a young girl, she took her training very seriously; indeed, she was the one that would often have to raise her parents at 5 AM, determined not to miss a second of vital ice time. From Elena, Katia borrows her beauty and gentle soul. It is through her mother’s eyes that Katia sees the world, and through her mother’s spirit that she raises her children.
Though Alexander wished for his young daughter to become a ballerina, it was the former Soviet Union’s Central Red Army Club (CSKA), the elite body that developed the country’s great athletes, that determined Katia’s destiny. From the tender age of 4, Katia exhibited a potential on the ice worthy of her selection to the elite sports club, and due to her slight stature she would forever remain on the ice, never fulfilling her father’s original dreams.
Katia’s early years were defined as much by her happy home life as they were by her determination to become an accomplished skater. She grew up with her parents and younger sister, Maria, in a
It wasn’t long before the CSKA determined that Katia was more suited to the demands of pair skating. On a fateful day at age 11, she was paired with a slender, golden-haired young boy named Sergei Grinkov, four years her senior. From that point on, the serious young girl and the carefree, talented Grinkov formed a partnership that would define both their own lives and the world of figure skating.
Three years later, after countless hours of rigorous on and off-ice training, Gordeeva and Grinkov joined forces with Marina Zueva who would become their longtime choreographer and perhaps the most influential force in their skating careers. Soon after this partnership formed, the pair won the World Junior Championships in
Though the successes of this young pair quickly mounted, their off-ice relationship proceeded at a more gradual pace. The two spent little time together away from their training, and while the playful Grinkov was constantly testing authority and exploring life with a large group of friends, Katia’s existence was more isolated. Her eyes turned not to those around her, but inward. Due to her relative youth (in comparison with the other skaters) and shyness, Katia found solace on the ice and in her training. Though Sergei would become the anchoring force in their partnership, Katia’s steadfast determination and remarkable work ethic was an integral factor in the pair’s enormous success. She focused almost exclusively on a single goal: capturing Olympic Gold in
Gordeeva and Grinkov successfully defended their World title in 1987 in
1988 proved to be a heady year for Katia. Things changed rapidly, both on and off the ice. Her trip to
Gordeeva and Grinkov won Worlds again in 1989 in the romantic city of
The next few years brought more dramatic changes to Gordeeva and Grinkov as life began to move at a faster, more hectic pace. In addition to an increase in skating tours (Champions on Ice through North America, Russian All-Stars through South Africa), there arrived a barrage of responsibilities new to the couple: simple financial and housing matters previously handled by the old Soviet Regime. And on September 11, 1992 came the most precious responsibility of all, their daughter Daria. Though thrilled with parenthood, the couple needed to support themselves, which meant more touring. During the 1991-1992 season, Gordeeva and Grinkov decided to join the Stars on Ice tour, the world’s most prestigious figure skating production. The sixty city, three-month road show made travel virtually impossible with their newborn, so they entrusted Daria’s care to Katia’s mother, a difficult but necessary decision for the young parents.
In 1994, Gordeeva and Grinkov took advantage of a new rule allowing professional skaters to be reinstated for Olympic eligibility and headed for
Life for Katia and Sergei was complete, both personally and professionally. During their career, they had amassed two Olympic Gold Medals, four World Amateur Championships, and three World Professional Championships in addition to various other first and second place finishes. Now, finally settled in their new home and in their new country, they looked forward to the future.
Despite Sergei’s nagging back injury, 1995 was destined to be a wonderful year. Again, they decided to rejoin Stars on Ice, and though this meant another long three months on the road, at least this year they were able to bring their daughter Daria along with them to the lengthy Stars training sessions in
Though the next year was extraordinarily difficult for Katia, she again found her solace and inspiration on the ice. In February of 1996, she began her solo career with a heartfelt tribute to her late husband in A Celebration of a Life, which aired on CBS. In November 1996, Katia chronicled her life and love affair in her book My Sergei, A Love Story (Warner Books), which became a national best seller. That same year, she starred in her first television special Disney’s Beauty and the Beast along with friend and fellow skater Scott Hamilton.
Since then, Katia has emerged as one of the world’s most familiar faces. She signed a multi-year partnership with Target Stores that includes commercials and product endorsements. Katia’s first project with Target was a starring role, along with her daughter Daria, in the holiday musical Snowden on Ice, which aired in November 1997 on CBS. In February 1998, CBS aired the television docudrama My Sergei, (based on the book), and in April 1998 Little Brown published Katia’s second book A Letter for Daria. Target’s 1998 sequel to Snowden on Ice, The Snowden Raggedy Ann and Andy Holiday Show was equally as successful.
Target introduced a fragrance and bath and body line, simply called “Katia”, in March of 1998. Katia is only the second athlete (Michael Jordan being the first), to have a fragrance named after them. “Katia” was distinguished with a Fifi award nomination, the prestigious perfume industry’s award for fragrances. A second fragrance, called “Katia Sport”, was released exclusively in Target Stores in April 1999. Target also displayed their support for Katia by dedicating a memorial to Sergei named the “Sergei Garden” within Target House, a 50-unit apartment complex and a home-away-from-home for long-term patients and their families while receiving treatment at the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee.
During this period, Katia also signed a multi-year agreement with Rolex. She has appeared in a print ad campaign solo and with female skating legend Peggy Fleming. She also was featured in the popular “Milk Mustache” ad campaign with her daughter Daria.
This will mark Katia's twelfth season as a solo skater on the Stars on Ice Tour. Katia continues to perform in figure skating exhibitions throughout the world. She briefly returned to pairs skating during the 2008-09 season when she participated in Russian reality television show, Ice Age 2 a figure skating version of Dancing with the Stars. She and her partner, Russian actor Egor Beroev won the show. In November 2010, Katia and her partner hockey star, Valeri Bure, won season two of CBC’s hit reality show, Battle of the Blades.
Currently, Katia resides in the