Three stars of the figure skating world -- Tatiana Tarasova, Robin Cousins and the late Gillis Grafström -- will be inducted into the World Figure Skating Hall of Fame during a ceremony at the 2008 World Championships being held in Gothenburg, Sweden March 18-23.
Tarasova grew up around the ice as her father, Anatoly Tarasov, was the coach of the Soviet ice hockey team in the 60s and early 70s. Her father introduced her to figure skating at the age of 5. She competed in pairs skating and with her second partner, Georgi Proskurin, placed seventh at the 1965 World Figure Skating Championships and fourth at the 1966 European Figure Skating Championships. A knee injury forced her to retire early and at 19 she began to coach within the Soviet Union figure skating system.
Her talent has been perfected from over four decades of coaching. She has coached World medalists and Olympic champions in all four disciplines of the sport. Her career highlights include working with Olympic champions in men's, pairs and ice dancing. Her former Olympic gold medalists include: Ilia Kulik and Alexei Yagudin; Irina Rodnina and Aleksandr Zaitzev; Oksana (Pasha) Grishuk and Evgeny Platov; Marina Klimova and Sergei Ponomarenko; and Natalia Bestemianova and Andrei Bukin. Grishuk and Platov are the only two-time Olympic ice dancing medalists since this discipline became an Olympic sport in 1976.
More recently Tarasova assisted in coaching 2006 Olympic gold-medalist Shizuka Arakawa and silver-medalist Sasha Cohen; two-time Olympic medalist Michelle Kwan; and three-time U.S. champion Johnny Weir. She has also provided advisory assistance to athletes and coaches of the Russian National Team and other world-class skaters.
1988 Olympic gold medalist Kulik feels Tarasova's greatest strength is her ability to see exactly what it is her skaters need. For Kulik that meant Tarasova utilized her talents as a choreographer to help him feel the music. Tarasova recalled her experience working with Kulik prior to the Olympics in a 1998 article in International Figure Skating (IFS) magazine. "He was still young enough that there was malleability," she told IFS. "You could change him. . . You could mold him like a sculpture."
In the same article Kulik told IFS, "She knows everything about figure skating, all the techniques. And as a choreographer, she is perfect."
There is also a soft side to her reputation as Tarasova worries about her students as if they were her own. Grishuk, who trained with Tarasova in Massachusetts, spoke affectionately of her. "She was like my mom," Grishuk told IFS in 1998. "She talked to me and gave me good advice." Other former students have cited how she cooked for them and made them feel at home when they were training outside their native land.
In the mid 1990s, she launched a successful ice ballet show entitled "Russian All-Stars."
1980 Olympic champion Robin Cousins
Cousins has enjoyed an illustrious career as both an amateur and professional. After winning his Olympic medal, Cousins won the World Free Skating Championship gold medal three times. He was a special guest performer with Holiday on Ice and Ice Capades.
He is known worldwide for his choreographic work for film and television including the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics closing ceremony where he also performed. He choreographed two hit shows for his own production company, Ice Company, in 1983 entitled "Electric Ice" and "Ice Majesty." In addition, Cousins has performed in major Broadway productions in the United States and his native England.
He is a regular guest presenter and commentator for BBC television and other networks for the European, World and Olympic Championships. He is currently the head judge on ITV's "Dancing on Ice" for both the live tour and television show entering its third season in spring 2008.
His awards are numerous including his 1980 award at Buckingham Palace of the Ordinary Member of the Civil Division of the Order of the British Empire (M.B.E.) and his appointment in 2006 as honorary vice president of the National Ice Skating Association.
Cousins was elected in 2005 to the World Figure Skating Hall of Fame, but will be formally inducted this year.
Three-time Olympic champion Gillis Grafström
Grafström was the three-time Swedish champion (1917, 1918 and 1920). He won three World Championships in 1922, 1924 and 1929. Grafström never competed at the European Championships. He chose instead to focus on the Olympics winning gold in 1920, 1924 and 1928. In 1932 at age 38, he closed his competitive career with an Olympic silver medal.
Grafström is credited with inventing the forward inside spiral and the flying sit spin. His advanced concepts of choreography and musicality were years ahead of his time. Grafström passed away in 1938 at age 45. He is a World Figure Skating Hall of Fame member since 1976.