#Unearthed: The CSKA Moscow Children's School

When you dig through skating history, you never know what you will unearth. In the spirit of cataloguing fascinating tales from skating history, #Unearthed is a once a month 'special occasion' on Skate Guard where fascinating writings by others that are of interest to skating history buffs are excavated, dusted off and shared for your reading pleasure. From forgotten fiction to long lost interviews to tales that have never been shared publicly, each #Unearthed is a fascinating journey through time. This month's edition comes to you from the January 1974 issue of "Soviet Life" magazine and is a very brief look at the children's figure skating school at the Soviet Army Central Sports Club (CSKA Moscow) penned by none other than Irina Rodnina, then the reigning Olympic and World Champion in pairs skating.


Irina Rodnina and Alexander Zaitsev

High speeds and giddy leaps, graceful movements, music, sparkling ice - that is figure skating. But how much energy goes into the training for this beautiful spectacle? In our country figure skating is one of the most popular winter sports. Thousands of girls and boys train at the many rinks.

Soviet figure skating is world famous and so are the leading skaters: Lyudmila Smirnova and
Alexei Ulanov (pair skating), Lyudmila Pakhomova and Alexander Gorshkov (ice dancing),
Sergei Chetverukhin and Yuri Ovchinnikov. They have won repeatedly at world and European
championships and at the Olympics. I'm happy that I too have been able to contribute to this

The figure skater's career begins at the children's skating schools, whose number is increasing from year to year. There used to be only two main figure-skating centers - Moscow and Leningrad - but at the recent junior championships youngsters from Sverdlovsk, Kiev, Kirov, Kazan, Tallinn, Gorky and
other cities competed. Over 60,000 children now go in for figure skating.

Irina Rodnina with young CSKA Moscow skaters

The future skaters I am going to tell about attend the children's skating school at the Soviet Army Central Sports Club. I began studying there at the age of six and still train at its rink. Applicants to the school must pass intensive tests for physical fitness, musicality, rhythm and plasticity. Skilled
specialists train the children, among them Stanislav Zhuk, a former figure skater, silver medal
winner at three European championships and the best coach in the Soviet Union; Alexander Gore-
lik, silver medal winner at the 1968 Olympics; and Victor Ryzhkin, several times the champion
of the USSR. Choreographers, composers, musicians and costume designers create the compositions and plan the programs.

At the disposal of the students are all the necessary equipment, facilities and medical services. The tuition fee is a token five rubles a month; after two years instruction is free.

It's not easy to become a good figure skater; both the students and coaches must follow an intensive regimen. Success comes only to the most persistent and stubborn. But the years spent at the school leave their mark. Though not all the youngsters become champions, they grow up healthy, resourceful, with a keen sense of beauty, the goal of sports.

Skate Guard is a blog dedicated to preserving the rich, colourful and fascinating history of figure skating. Over ten years, the blog has featured over a thousand free articles covering all aspects of the sport's history, as well as four compelling in-depth features. To read the latest articles, follow the blog on FacebookTwitterPinterest and YouTube. If you enjoy Skate Guard, please show your support for this archive by ordering a copy of the figure skating reference books "The Almanac of Canadian Figure Skating", "Technical Merit: A History of Figure Skating Jumps" and "A Bibliography of Figure Skating": https://skateguard1.blogspot.com/p/buy-book.html.