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Ilia, at 6 years old, developing his Olympic form
at an outside rink in Moscow
Photo courtesy of the Kulik Family

Ilia's "big, crazy dream" becomes reality in Nagano,
Feb. 14, 1998

       When 20-year-old Ilia Kulik stood at the top of the Olympic podium in Nagano, Japan in February  
  1998, he was only the second man in figure skating singles history to achieve a Gold Medal on his first 
  trip to the Winter Games (the first being the United States’ Dick Button in 1948). 

        lIia’s “big, crazy dream” as he has called it, started when he was five-years-old in his hometown,
  Moscow.  His mother took him to a children’s skating class to see if skating might be his sport.  After
  watching her son fall and fall again at his first try on skates, Mrs. Kulik thought they should try out
  another sport right away.  She was surprised to hear the teacher ask her to bring little Ilia back. 

       “But why?  He keeps falling.”   

       “Yes,” said the teacher, “but he keeps getting up.”  

       Fifteen years later, with days marked by the same determination, an Olympic champion emerged.  
       Ilia’s talent in his formative years enabled him to work with the distinguished Russian coach, Viktor  
  Kudriavtsev.  Later in his eligible career, he also worked with Russian coach and choreographer, Tatiana
  Tarasova, who is well known to American skating audiences. 

       Ilia’s first significant international win, at the age of 13, was a gold medal in the 1990 Piruetten
  Juniors competition in Norway.  Early competitive achievements included gold at 1994 Russian Junior
  Nationals (age 16), 1994 Nebelhorn Trophy, 1995 Junior Worlds (age 17), and most importantly, a gold
  medal at 1995 European Championships in Dortmund, Germany.  On his way to the gold medal in  
  Nagano, Ilia won a wide variety of skating honors including two Russian national championships (1997,

       At the Nagano games in February, 1998 Ilia placed first with both his short and long programs, “Revolutions” and “Rhapsody in Blue.” “Rhapsody in Blue,”
  one of the most ambitious Olympic programs ever successfully skated, included a flawlessly executed quadruple toe loop, 8 triple jumps, intricate footwork,
  multiple spins and sweeping connective choreography.  In total, Ilia achieved an “overpowering” Olympic performance according to Time magazine.  

      As a professional skater, Ilia has distinguished himself as an innovative choreographer and as a mature performer who continues to stress technical
  excellence while offering audiences a breadth of styles and musical forms. For Stars on Ice in 2008, Ilia even skated to a composition of his own, "Something
  for Inspiration."  He has toured with both Champions on Ice and Stars on Ice in the U.S., Prince Ice World in Japan and performed with Stars on Ice and Art
  on Ice in Europe. Off ice, Ilia has explored other avenues of expression, the most noticeable being a major role in the popular 2000 dance film, Center
. Ilia is also an avid tennis player and a long-term student of Aikido, the Japanese martial art.

      In the past several years, Ilia has become more active as a coach.  He has often observed that he is committed to passing along the excellent coaching
  he received as a young skater.  Ilia is married to Olympic and World champion, Ekaterina Gordeeva.  They live in Southern California with daughters, Daria
  (Dasha) Sergeevna Grinkova (born 9/11/92 and Katia's daughter with the late Sergei Grinkov) and Elizaveta (Liza) Ilinichna Kulik (born 6/15/01).