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by Alina Adams

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Monday, August 11, 2008


The Summer Olympic Gold Medal of Figure Skater Nikolay Panin.

Translation of an article by Elena Dolgopolova printed in Russian language publication “Rossijskaya Gazeta” on August 8, 2008.

It is hard to believe that the first Russian Champion of the summer Olympics was a figure skater. Nikolay Panin-Kolomenkin won a Gold Medal exactly 100 years ago at the London Games of 1908.

At that time, the schedule of the 4th Olympic Games for the first time included a non-summer sport – figure skating. It was classic figure skating where the sportsman drew special figures upon the ice. As it was required, Panin sent the drawings of the figures that he was planning to draw on ice to the Olympic committee.

The figures were so complicated that some of the judges did not believe that they could be drawn on ice. The seven time world champion in figure skating, Mr. Salhov from Sweden, believed in Panin and decided not to participate in the Olympics. Panin won in London very easily. The official report of the Games stated that Panin “superseded his competitors in the complexity of the figures that he drew on the ice as well as in the ease with which he performed them.”

Testimony of the spectators stated that the figures were performed with mathematical precision. There was a reason for this. Panin graduated with honors from the physical and mathematical college at St. Petersburg’s University, the School of Natural Sciences.

In 1907, Mr. Panin constructed special skates for figure skating which became the model for contemporary skates.

After his Gold medal in London, Mr. Panin left figure skating and in 1910 he published his Figure Skater’s Manual. He had chapters on the theory and practice of figure skating. The book became a very popular handbook and is being used even now by coaches of figure skating. The International Union of Figure Skaters made the book an official manual for figure skaters and issued a Gold Medal to the author. In 1914, Mr. Panin was a judge at the World Figure Skating Championship in Stockholm.

Mr. Panin passed away in 1956.


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