The Soviet Union, with an impressive record in international skating over the last decade, is preparing for the European figure-skating Championships, which start on January 29 at the sports Palace at Zagreb, in Yugoslavia.
SV Lyudmila Smirnova and Alexei Ulanov in international competition in Moscow
SV Couple continue routine
SV PAN Young skaters practising at training school
SV Teacher helping youngster with jump
Initials AE/21.07 AE/21.26
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Background: The Soviet Union, with an impressive record in international skating over the last decade, is preparing for the European figure-skating Championships, which start on January 29 at the sports Palace at Zagreb, in Yugoslavia. The Soviet team will include the winners of the recent international competition 'Moscow Skates - 73' -- Lyudmila Smirnova and Alexei Ulanov.
The two are widely tipped to win the event at Zagreb; they already hold the world silver medal for pairs figure skating. And at the Tokyo Winter Olympic Games Alexei Ulanov was the champion, and Lyudmila Smirnova a silver medallist.
The couple have been skating together for only about a year. Their confident victory at the Moscow competition proved they'd become used to each other's way of working -- their initial cautiousness and rigidness has disappeared.
The Soviet Union's success in the sport has stimulated great interest among youngsters.
The children learn to skate at sports stadiums, clubs, improvised rings, at schools, and on hosing estates, and at special training schools.
SYNOPSIS: Soviet skaters are preparing for the European championships, which start later this month in Yugoslavia. Widely tipped for high honours are the Soviet par Lyudmila Smirnova and Alexei Ulanov. The couple recently won the major international competition in Moscow called 'Moscow Skates - 73'.
There's wide interest in the sport and this particular couple, who've only been skating as a pair for just over a year, already hold a world silver medal.
Interest in skating has grown quickly during the last decade or so when Soviet skaters have been so dominant in the world competitions. Many young children learn the skill almost before they can walk properly. And almost any flat area covered with ice is used for practising. Skating rinks are improvised at schools and in housing estates and there are special training schools. At all of these the children learn the ABC of skating and gymnastics and choreography -- the skills they'd need to become top-class skaters; though many will not reach that level.
To reach international standards a skater has to be so enthusiastic that he, or she, is prepared to give up every moment of spare time to training to try to perfect all the necessary skills. The children who do go onto become great skaters usually have certain essential abilities in common. These include, a love of mucic, plenty of artistic imagination, graceful movements, a capacity for hard work, and above all a love of the sport.