Human Limits

Exploring performance and health with Michael J. Joyner, M.D.

Photo of Michael J. Joyner, M.D.

Beyond Balance: The Protopopovs

During the 2012 Summer Olympics I did a number of posts on all-time greats like the sprinter Bob Hayes and perhaps the most underrated distance runner in history Bob Schul.  Both won gold medals in the 1964 games at Tokyo.


One of the points I have made with both men is that when you make a few adjustments for equipment, their performances are probably as good as the best performances are today.  The same can be said of the miler Jim Ryun and of course Secretariat is perhaps the greatest and most dominant “athlete” ever.   One shining example from the Winter Olympics is the incomparable Russian figure skating pair, the Protopopovs who dominated pairs skating in the 1960s with golds in 1964 and 1968.


The video clip below shows their winning performance in 1968 at Grenoble, France.  It is a long clip but note their incredible balance, tempo, synchrony, and timing.  The lines of their skating are absolutely beautiful.   You will see more impressive throws and acrobatic maneuvers in the 2014 skating events, but you will not see a more beautiful performance.  Enjoy watching the Protopopovs!




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