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Two former Soviet Olympic gold-medal figure skaters now living in

February 21, 1988

CALGARY, Alberta (AP) _ Two former Soviet Olympic gold-medal figure skaters now living in Switzerland have been dropped from Winter Olympic closing ceremonies after talks between organizers and the Soviet Union’s top sports official.

Bill Payne, media general manager for OCO ’88, said organizing committee chairman Frank King had been contacted by Soviet Sports Minister Marat Gramov about the scheduled appearance of 1964-68 pairs champions Igor and Lyudmila Protopopov.

The Protopopovs were to have been featured in an Olympic nostalgia segment of the ceremonies, set for Feb. 28.

Payne said Gramov never pressured King to drop the skaters, who moved to Switzerland nine years ago. He said the decision was made because the figure skating portion of the closing ceremonies was running too long.

″Frank King met with Mr. Gramov regarding the inclusion of the Protopopovs in the closing ceremonies,″ Payne said. ″Mr. Gramov never asked that the Protopopovs be replaced but said that other skaters representing the Soviet Union’s and Czechoslovakia’s great history of figure skating excellence be included also.″

King then asked Paddy Sampson, executive producer of the opening and closing ceremonies of the Games, whether more skaters could be included, Payne said.

″The executive producer told Frank that he already was running out of time, and there was no room to add anyone,″ Payne said. ″Reflecting on his conversation with Mr. Gramov, Frank then suggested that it would be best not to have them (the Protopopovs).″

Payne said the Protopopovs were still in Switzerland and that their invitation to Calgary had been withdrawn.

The nostalgia segment will feature about 20 former Olympic and world- champion figure skaters. Although their names have not been announced, most are said to be from Canada and the United States, with none from the socialist bloc.

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