Protopopov and his wife, Ludmila Belousova, broke records in the then-Soviet Union for their international success as a pair
Oleg Protopopov, one of Russia's most decorated figure skaters, died on Tuesday. He was 91.
The Russian Figure Skating Federation announced the news of Protopopov’s death on Saturday. They reported that he died in his sleep.
Protopopov was a two-time Olympic gold medalist who competed as a pair skater alongside his wife, Ludmila Belousova, throughout the 1960s.
The couple, who wed in 1957, won gold at the 1964 Winter Olympics in Innsbruck, Austria, and then again at the 1968 Olympics in Grenoble, France, according to the International Olympic Committee.
Protopopov and Belousova made history as the first pair of skaters from the then-Soviet Union to reach international success. From 1965 to 1968, they won the World and European Championships four times, but were eventually “eased” out of the competition world after placing second and third at consecutive international appearances.
They made their final joint showing in a competition in 1972, winning bronze at the Soviet Championships before retiring from competition.
The couple then worked for several years at the Leningrad State Ballet on Ice (now called the St. Petersburg State Ballet on Ice) before moving to Switzerland, where they continued to skate both recreationally and in professional ice shows.
In 2017, Belousova died at age 81 after battling a “long illness,” per the Russian Figure Skating Federation. Up until her death, she and Protopopov had been regularly skating and performing in Switzerland.
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In the announcement, the Russian Figure Skating Federation expressed its “deep condolences” to Protopopov’s family and loved ones.
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