Bona Fide Member
I admit to having mixed feelings about the legacy of Irina Rodnina and her partners. Obviously her competitive record speaks for itself. But she took pairs skating in a different direction. Instead of "two skating as one" the discipline became "huge tricks." The "gorilla and flea" model was not far behind. It is interesting to me that the popularity of ice dance began to increase at about the same time that the allure of pairs skating diminished, at least in North America.
Here are Rodnina and Zaitzev at the 1976 Olympics.
As inconsistent as they were, they produced some clean programs at the biggest stage a few times. They are my favorite of all pairs.
Thanks for mentioning Shelley and Starbuck. They came a bit before I discovered figure skating, but I've seen them skate as a pro pair and also as soloist pros. I think they would vie for the title of best American pair ever as well. Just tremendously strong. Yes, indeed, Nicks has been a sensational pairs coach, and his singles coaching ain't bad either.
Originally Posted by lcd
Here are two ancient, grainy videos showing Nicks' four skaters, Starbuck, Shelley, Babilonia, and Gardner, skating as an ensemble. Their styles and heights were so compatible that they were able to exchange partners and also to do a breathtaking Ina Bauer a quatre. These videos show the same program skated six years apart. (They're in reverse chronological order.)