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Alexander Zaitsev (pair skater) facts for kids

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Alexander Zaitsev
Personal information
Country represented Soviet Union
Born (1952-06-16) 16 June 1952 (age 71)
Leningrad, RSFSR, Soviet Union
Height 5 ft 10 in (1.78 m)
Former partner Irina Rodnina
Former coach Tatiana Tarasova
Stanislav Zhuk
Retired 1980

Alexander Gennadyevich Zaitsev (Russian: Александр Геннадьевич Зайцев, born 16 June 1952 in Leningrad) is a retired pair skater who represented the Soviet Union. With partner Irina Rodnina, he is a two-time (1976, 1980) Olympic champion, six-time World champion and seven-time European champion. They were coached by Stanislav Zhuk and later Tatiana Tarasova in Moscow.

From 1973 to 1980 they won every event they entered and are, to date, the most decorated pair team of all time.


In April 1972, Zaitsev was recommended by Stanislav Zhuk to Irina Rodnina as a potential partner. She was already a four-time World champion and 1972 Olympic gold medalist with her previous partner Alexei Ulanov, who had left her to skate with Lyudmila Smirnova. Zaitsev was three years younger than Rodnina and was much less seasoned but learned quickly. He was from Leningrad (Saint Petersburg) while she was from Moscow.

Rodnina / Zaitsev's music stopped during their short program at the 1973 World Championships, possibly due to a Czech worker acting in retaliation for the suppression of the Prague Spring. Known for intense concentration, they finished the program in silence, earning a standing ovation and a gold medal upon completion, ahead of Smirnova / Ulanov, whom they again defeated in 1974.

In 1974, Rodnina / Zaitsev left Zhuk, with whom the working relationship had become strained, to train with Tatiana Tarasova. They won six consecutive World titles together, as well as seven European gold medals, and won their first Olympic title together in 1976. Rodnina / Zaitsev did not compete during the 1978–79 season because she was pregnant with their son, who was born on February 23, 1979. They returned in 1980 to capture their second Olympic title together and Rodnina's third. They then retired from competitive skating. In 2023, Zaitsev's medal for the 1980 Olympics was sold at the RR Auction auction house for $93,000 (including the buyer's premium). Zaitsev himself said that he had nothing to do with the sale, the medal was kept by the parents of his ex-wife.

After retiring from competition, Zaitsev became a coach and for a time was involved in the administration of the sport.

Personal life

Rodnina and Zaitsev were married in April 1975. Their son, also named Alexander, was born in 1979. The pair later divorced.



Pairs with Irina Rodnina

Event 1972–73 1973–74 1974–75 1975–76 1976–77 1977–78 1978–79 1979–80
Winter Olympics 1st 1st
World Championships 1st 1st 1st 1st 1st 1st
European Championships 1st 1st 1st 1st 1st 1st 1st
Soviet Championships 1st 1st 1st 1st
Prize of Moscow News 1st

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Aleksandr Záitsev (patinador) para niños

  • USSR at the Winter Olympics


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