Two-Time Gold Medal Pairs Figure Skater Dies At 91

Back in the 1960s, Oleg Protopopov and his wife Lyudmila Belousova made history in the world of figure skating. Representing the then-Soviet Union, the couple won the Olympic gold medal in 1964 and 1968. They also won 6 championships in the USSR, 4 European championships, and four world championships.

Sadly, the Russian Figure Skating Federation has announced the news that Protopopov has died. He was 92 years old. He was living in Switzerland at the time of his death. He reportedly died in his sleep on Saturday, November 4, 2023.

After retiring from competitive skating, Protopopov and Belousova worked at the Leningrad Ice Ballet for four years. Eventually, they moved to Switzerland and became citizens of the country in 1995.

Protopopov’s wife, Belousova, died back in 2017. The Russian Figure Skating Federation didn’t specify an exact cause of death, just mentioning a “long illness.” She was 81 years old at the time of her death.

Until that “long illness,” Protopovo and Belousova continued to perform together, skating for their fans at gala performances. For example, in 2015, they performed in the United States at a performance called “Evening with Champions.”

In their announcement, the Russian Figure Skating Federation shared that they express “deep condolences” to not only Protopovo’s family but also to “everyone who knew” him.

Protopovo began skating later than most Olympians. He was 15 years old when he first set foot on ice, but he had natural talent. He met Belousova in 1954, and and they trained together as partners. They had chemistry on and off the ice and ended up getting married in 1957.

Now, the couple is finally reunited.

Relive Protopovo and Belousova skating in the prime of their career in the video below.

While the couple is no longer on earth, their contribution to figure skating lives on. They created three moves known as “death spirals” that are still used by figure skaters in competitions today.