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Protopopov closes Adult Week with tribute to Ludmila

August 31, 2018
By CHRISTIE SAUSA - Correspondent , Lake Placid News

LAKE PLACID - Adult Skating Week ended with a standing ovation when the legendary 1964 and 1968 Olympic pairs champion Oleg Protopopov closed the adult skating exhibition with a poignant tribute - Long Live the Woman - to his late wife Ludmila Belousova Protopopov, who passed away last year. The Protopopovs were fixtures of the Lake Placid summer skating scene, coaching skaters young and old and training daily.

They were always particularly busy during Adult Week, so it was fitting that Oleg returned to skate and coach this summer after residing in Switzerland during the winter and spring months.

Although the adult skaters are a particularly supportive group that cheers loudly for fellow skaters, after a brief initial enthusiastic applause, there was a respectful silence when Protopopov glided onto the ice, commanding the attention of all in attendance. At the end of his performance, the audience and staff stood to give him an ovation. Afterward, when skaters took their customary end-of-show group picture, Protopopov presented each skater with a postcard picturing him and Ludmila, and took part in the group picture.

Article Photos

Oleg Protopopov performs during an exhibition during Adult Skating Week at the Olympic Center in Lake Placid.
Provided photo — Christie Sausa

Protopopov will be starring in An Evening with Champions Sept. 14 and 15 at Harvard University.

For Protopopov student and close friend Nancy Armstrong, the poignant performance reminded her of her time spent learning from the pair. Taking lessons with Oleg Protopopov all week, she was greatly moved by his solo return to performing in tribute to Ludmila.

"The program on Saturday was very emotional for me," Armstrong said. "I had watched him practice all week so I knew the program. But to see him perform for everyone, and see how emotional everyone was, made me cry even more. I think and hope that all realized what a great skater and treasure he is."

These special moments are somehow standard in Lake Placid, which is part of the reason their skating programs remain so popular with skaters of all ages.

Adults skate too, and nowhere is this more apparent than in Lake Placid, where 75 skaters participated in the annual Adult Skating Week.

After the Lake Placid Summer Figure Skating camp for children and teens ended last week, the Adult Week was the last official week of summer skating, giving adult skaters the opportunity to enjoy dedicated ice time to improve their skating skills. At least six hours of on-ice sessions and 10 on-ice classes were offered daily. Off-ice, skaters can take part in yoga, ballet, fitness and stretch classes.

Most adult skaters travel not only for the abundance of ice time, but also for the experienced and highly qualified coaches, all of which have experience working with adult skaters and can help address their unique skating needs. Additionally, there is the camaraderie, the shared passion for a common pursuit. Fun activities included this year's Wednesday evening curling party on the USA rink, and the adult skating exhibition Saturday, where skaters could demonstrate their new skills and sometimes, new programs, for an audience in the 1980 rink.

Most of the Lake Placid Adult Week skaters come from the East Coast, but several made the trip from international locales to participate. Two such skaters are Michael Robbins of Australia and Andrea Hillyer of the Netherlands, both making return trips after skating in previous Adult Weeks.

Robbins is an ice dancer who started skating in 1960, and after a break, resumed skating regularly in the 1990s. He has been skating ever since, and not even a total left hip replacement stopped him from skating for long.

"I started ice dance because my wife was keen for us to try, since we had both skated a bit previously," Robbins said.

He came to Lake Placid because the camp was recommended by a fellow skater at his rink, and he found a great opportunity to learn and time to skate.

"My favorite parts of the adult camp were the amount of time available (to skate) on well-prepared ice and the opportunity to work with different coaches," Robbins said.

For Hillyer, who started skating in 2009 while her daughters were learning to speed skate, the camp is appealing for the skating components and social opportunities.

"I enjoy meeting old friends and making new ones," Hillyer said. "I like the format of the Lake Placid adult week in that you can choose what you want to do. You are not forced to follow set lessons or specific classes for certain levels. It's all adults, the guest coaches are really good and normally the ice quality is really good too."

This adult week concludes summer skating in Lake Placid. The next major skating event is the North Atlantic Regional Figure Skating Championships Oct. 17-21. For more information on skating in Lake Placid, visit For information on the Regional Championships, visit the event website at



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