Ever since the brightest flame of pair skating—G & G, was extinguished with the loss of Sergei Grinkov, the skating world has yearned for the day when another pair would come to sweep it off its feet. That certain blend of gentleness and refinement coupled with technical prowess which fueled the romantic fancy of an entire world has almost become an unconscious gauge against which the greatness of all pairs are measured.

A few pairs below the province of the most speculated crop of Olympic favourites is gem of a pair awaiting discovery—a radiant, innovative duo from one of the former Soviet States, national champs of Kazakhstan for the past 5 years, silver medalists at 97 Skate Canada, Marina Khalturina and Andrei Kroukov, too, have what is known as the G & G factor.

Skating since both were 5-year-olds and pairing up 7 years ago under coach Sergei Korovin, Marina and Andrei now train in the US at the Prince William Ice Forum in Woodbridge, Virginia. Wispy and petite with tall, dark and handsome, the relatively unknown pair sits down for an animated chat.

Who are your role models?
Andrei: Gordeyeva and Grinkov.
Marina: G&G!
A: We competed against them in 93 in Skate Canada, our 2nd international competition.
M: I was really happy I had this opportunity to be with them and watch them skate. It wasn't like we were competing against them, we just wanted to be with them!
A: I was just happy to share locker rooms with Sergei, warm up in one warm-up group.

As a pair, what do you both bring to the ice, to the team?
A: To this music we are skating now, it’s our personalities. For long program we decided to skate this music because it’s our style, we try to show the fun in our life, in dancing.
M: We’re skating to Be My Love in the short and music from Swing Kids and Love Story in the long.

What do you want to be remembered for as a pairs team?
M: "Those guys have their own style."
A: Like nobody can be like Gordeyeva and Grinkov, nobody can compare to them. For people to also say, "This couple was incredible, nobody can be like them." I would be happy if people would say like this about us.
M: Our trademark are our lifts. We named our favourite one the Tower.

You are students?
M: Actually Andrei, he graduated already.
A: I graduated in university in Russia. I have engineering degree and last summer I graduated form Physical Culture University in Kazakhstan so I have course degree now.
M: Now I'm studying in the same institute in Kazakhstan.
A: She'll go there next summer.

How do you divide your time being skaters and students?
M: Actually while we're here we're just skaters. But we have some times to sit with books. Basically, we are skaters.

What books do you read?
M: Not scientific. I like magazines, but books… maybe psychology, because when I graduated from college we had psychology. We had all these subjects I kind of liked, books about the human being.

What do you like to do outside of skating?
M: I like shopping. I love American malls. Shopping, music.
A: She has big collections of any types of music.
M: Not any types! Types that I like. I like tennis.
A: I like to play ball, pool, bowling, soccer, basketball volleyball, just for fun.

Any golfing?
M: I never even tried, Andrei tried once.
A: Mini-golf, we were at the ocean one time and I tried, it was fun.
M: I like astrology.
A: She's always reading and counting, what she expects for next weeks.
M: When new magazine, it’s like first page I go to—the horoscopes!

Are they ever right though?
M: I don't know… It’s like when you’re reading good stuff it’s like "Oh yeah!"

You’re certainly a beautiful team to watch. Marina, you don’t stop smiling!
M: Actually, when I was small, my mom and my relatives would come to the ice and they see me how I’m skating, even just simply practices. It’s just natural, when more people around it’s better, I just skate for them, and really love when they enjoy it.
A: What I have to learn from her is more smile, because sometimes too much concentration on my lifts and I forgetting about smile, but I will I will I will!
¨By Jenny Tong

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