Skater Alexander Zaitsev: biography, sporting achievements

Skater Alexander Zaitsev: biography, sporting achievements
Skater Alexander Zaitsev: biography, sporting achievements

What names, what surnames come to mind when mentioning the name of the legendary Alexander Gennadyevich Zaitsev, who was born on June 16, 1952 in Leningrad! This is Irina Rodnina, and Stanislav Zhuk, and Tatyana Tarasova! And what achievements! Two-time Olympic champion (Innsbruck 1976, Lake Placid 1980), six-time world champion (1973-1978), seven-time European champion (1973-1978, 1980)!


In those years when Alexander Zaitsev started training, there were no indoor ice rinks with artificial ice. Winter in Leningrad, where the skater started, is short and rainy. The main part of the training in spring and summer took place in tennis and athletics. Classes with Stanislav Zhuk began with a lack of understanding: the coach kept shouting at the skater. Alexander Zaitsev decided that he was not suitable until they explained to him that Zhuk was deaf. And being carried away by work, he demanded a lot from his students - perfected technique in the first place. The beetle looked after Zaitsev,when Rodnina was still skating with Ulanov. But the coach constantly called Alexander to him and all the time told him something. In single skating, there are different approaches to rotations: the skater both jumps and rotates in one direction, while in pair skating, which Alexander Zaitsev later took up, the requirements are completely different.

Creating a new pair

Like a bolt from the blue in 1972, Stanislav Zhuk issued an order that now Irina Rodnina and Alexander Zaitsev are a couple. And it spun! It was necessary to work right off the bat: to take and raise a partner, to do all the elements. Incredible challenges - all at once. But Sasha was a very gifted person, not to mention perseverance and determination. The beetle gave only two weeks for “grinding in”: if it works, they will work, no, there will be another pair. The main thing is to find out everything, and if the couple works quickly, show it to the leaders.

Alexander Zaitsev

And there was a simple daily training, and in the stands there was a leadership that Alexander Zaitsev did not know by sight and therefore skated calmly. Management was delighted and approved. So a new couple was born.


For Irina, all the elements were familiar and worked out, but the first year was incredibly difficult for Sasha. For three whole hours we were engaged only in sliding, and then steps, movements, elements. After a workout, I had leg cramps. I woke up in the winter, it was dark outside, I didn’t understand whether it was morning or evening. The rise was at six in the morning. There is nowhere to eat. Only the dumpling shop opened at 7ᴼᴼ (in four years he ate dumplings for the rest of his life). By eight in the morningI went to the warm-up, the training began at 9. I got up, went to train, came, fell and slept, and in the evening - the second training. After the evening training, there was also nowhere to eat especially. Only one restaurant on Sokol closed late. Sasha ordered what was left.

He didn't get any favors. The perfect technique was required. But he was a wonderful partner: Ira only held out her hand without looking back, and he was already grabbing it and strength was felt with him. And the skating was in the style of the Beetle - whirling.

Alexander Zaytsev figure skater

Beetle forged from a simple, very capable young Skater, extremely technical, for only technique was the true criterion for objective assessments. Everyone could understand artistry in their own way, and technique is visible at a glance, you can’t reinterpret it in any way: either it exists or it doesn’t. She was completely mastered by Alexander Zaitsev, a figure skater from God.

Paired with Rodnina

Unexpectedly, a new tall, handsome, talented partner suddenly appeared in the very beloved Rodnina and immediately won the hearts of both the audience and the judges. Their first joint performance in Bratislava in 1973 was just terrible. During the ride, the music stopped. It became quiet, it was only audible how the skates cut the ice. The skaters finished their program as if nothing had happened.

Irina Rodnina and Alexander Zaitsev

The hall applauded furiously, and the judges all as one gave the highest score. Then it became known that turning off the music was special, for failure. So for the first time together they became champions.


They first became friends. Sasha had a wonderful sense of humor, which even Zhvanetsky noted. And then friendship grew into family life. They got married in 1975. Alexander Zaitsev (photos are presented in the article) had a very easy character both on the ice and in life, which saved him from insults and quarrels.

In 1979, Rodnina felt unwell. It turned out that it was a long-awaited pregnancy. There was no end to the joy of future parents. They had a son, Sasha (now he is an artist, he lived in America for a long time, and then returned to Moscow, in 2008 his daughter Sofia was born). Therefore, in 1979, the couple did not perform.

Alexander Zaitsev biography

Irina had to recover after giving birth and re-enter the world of big sport with its crazy loads. After two (!) months, she returned to the ice.

Since 1976 - with Tatyana Tarasova

At the 1978 World Championships in Ottawa, the world saw Kalinka-Malinka for the first time.

alexandra zaitsev photo

And ahead - the Olympics in Lake Placid in 1980, where they want to get a victory, but what's there - American athletes are simply sure of it. After all, Zaitsev and Rodnina missed a year due to the birth of a child. In the press and on TV there were article after article, speech after speech, where it was said that gold does not shine for the Soviet couple. The Americans have already "won" it. But at the competitions themselves, the Americans suddenly began to fall, and then the partner generally ran off the ice. Complete failure. Our performance was brilliant.

It was their best performance everhistory. The hall gave a standing ovation. Zaitsev did his best so much that he almost lost consciousness, and Ira was crying on the pedestal. But in 1980 they stopped performing together, and not only the sports couple broke up, but also the family. They divorced in 1985, but have always remained friends.

After leaving the big sport

At first, Alexander Zaitsev worked in the Sports Committee. Then he started working as a coach in Moscow, at Dynamo. Talented athletes of different ages were selected. It was very interesting. But the restructuring came. There was no money, and, despite sponsorship, everything fell apart. Someone went to the show, someone - to the ballet, someone went to America. So there was no figure skating in Dynamo. After the students left, they had to look for work abroad. He was so tired of figure skating that after leaving the sport he did not skate for 5 years. Then he worked as a coach, but having given all his best as a figure skater, Alexander could not devote himself to coaching with the same ardor. He fully realized himself and now he simply gave his experience in different countries and on different continents: in Australia, Italy, England, Austria, Turkey, the USA. He repeatedly came to America and worked as a coach at the rinks in Lake Arrowhead, in Colorado Springs, in Detroit. He trains everyone - both pensioners and kids. Doesn't make champions. He just honestly earns his living. Alexander Zaitsev also comes to Moscow. The biography is not over. Life, with its joys and sorrows, goes on.

His sports awards will forever remain in the history of sports, especially since they are all gold.

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