Gorsha Sur

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Gorsha Sur
Personal information
Alternative names Georgi Sur
Country represented United States
Former country(ies) represented Soviet Union
Born (1967-01-01) January 1, 1967 (age 52)
Moscow, Russian SFSR, Soviet Union
Former partner Renée Roca
Svetlana Liapina
Former coach Sandy Hess
Retired 1996

Georgi "Gorsha" Sur (born January 1, 1967) is a former ice dancer who represented the United States and the Soviet Union. With Svetlana Liapina for the Soviet Union, he is a two-time World Junior medalist. With Renée Roca for the U.S., he is a two-time U.S. national champion (1993, 1995).


Georgi "Gorsha" Sur won two medals at the World Junior Championships with Svetlana Liapina[1] but the depth of the Soviet competitive ice dancing field led them to turn to professional skating.[2] In January 1990, Sur was taking part in a month-long Russian All-Stars skating tour in the U.S., headlined by Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean,[3] when he defected to the U.S. on January 24, 1990.[3][2] He was joined by Elena Krikanova, Igor Shpilband, Veronica Pershina and a tour official.[3][4] The group moved in with Russian immigrants in Brooklyn and eventually pooled their money to rent a one-bedroom apartment.[3]

With Sur's funds running out, American friends put him in touch with the Detroit Skating Club where he was offered a coaching job.[3] For a partner, he was advised to contact Renée Roca by Belgian skater, Jirina Ribbens.[2] Ribbens noted, "Of all the U.S. ice dancers, Renee's style is the most European. She has a classically elegant and dramatic flair, more like a ballerina than a ballroom dancer."[2]

Roca and Sur worked together in Detroit for two weeks and were soon invited to audition for tour organizers and to compete at professional competitions.[2] A year later, the International Skating Union changed its eligibility rules, allowing professional skaters to reinstate as amateurs to compete at the World Championships and Olympics; Sur convinced Roca to return to eligible competition.[2]

The pair choreographed for Elizabeth Punsalan and Jerod Swallow the free dance they used to win the 1991 U.S. Championships.[5]

Roca and Sur began competing in the 1992–93 season. They were coached by Sandy Hess in Colorado Springs, Colorado.[2][6] Roca and Sur won the 1993 U.S. national title. Roca and Sur hoped to win the United States' single berth to the ice dancing event at the 1994 Winter Olympics. To do so, the couple had to not only win the 1994 U.S. national title but also receive accelerated citizenship for Sur due to the Olympics' citizenship requirements.[3]

A Republican Representative and Democrat Senator, both from Colorado, lent their support to speed up Sur's naturalization in Congress.[3] It was argued that his case differed from other athletes because not speeding up the process would hurt an American citizen, Renee Roca.[3] However, their efforts were stymied in late December 1993 when the United States Olympic Committee denied a request for a waiver to the requirement that athletes be citizens by the national championships.[7] In addition, their main rivals for the Olympic spot, Punsalan and Swallow, were involved in a letter-writing campaign to Congress to attempt to prevent Sur from receiving expedited citizenship.[5][8]

During a warm-up at the 1994 U.S. Championships, Roca was skating backward and collided with the team of Galit Chait and Maksim Sevostyanov, fracturing a bone in her left arm.[6]

Two hours later, she returned from the hospital with her arm in a cast and decided to try to compete. They placed second to Punsalan and Swallow in the rhumba, however, Roca was unable to secure a firm grip with her left hand.[6] The couple was ultimately forced to withdraw from the rest of the competition. Roca and Sur returned to competition the following season and defeated Punsalan and Swallow at the 1995 U.S. Championships to reclaim their national crown.[citation needed]

At the 1996 U.S. Championships, their fortunes reversed again and Roca and Sur placed second to Punsalan and Swallow.[9] Roca and Sur retired from eligible competition at the end of the season and toured with Stars on Ice.[citation needed]

Although Sur has been credited as being the indirect cause of the Rent-A-Russian phenomenon in American skating,[10] he moved to the United States and settled there legitimately, with no intention of ever competing again.

Sur worked as a coach and choreographer and was based out of Oakland Ice Center.

Sur entered UC Hastings College of Law in 2003, graduating in 2006. [11]

Currently Georgy Sur heads Sports Law Practice at Russian leading law firm Egorov Puginsky Afanasiev & Partners. He advises and represents national and multinational entities in international arbitration, litigation, and mediation.


With Liapina

Event 1983–84 1984–85 1985–86 1986–87 1987–88 1988–89
NHK Trophy 2nd
Skate America 2nd
Nebelhorn Trophy 2nd
Winter Universiade 3rd 1st
Junior Worlds 3rd 2nd
Soviet Championships 5th 5th

With Roca

Event 1992–93 1993–94 1994–95 1995–96
World Championships 11th 10th 14th
U.S. Championships 1st 1st 2nd
Skate America 3rd 3rd
Skate Canada International 3rd
NHK Trophy 5th
Nations cup 4th


  1. World Junior Figure Skating Championships: ISU Results: Dance PDF (11.0 KB)
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 Harvey, Randy (January 19, 1993). "Defector Finds New Life, and New Partner". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved September 7, 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 3.7 Longman, Jere (December 5, 1993). "OLYMPICS; Sur, a Russian Ice Dancer, Is Pursuing U.S. Citizenship". The New York Times. Retrieved September 7, 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Rosewater, Amy (May 24, 2011). "Shpilband, Zoueva at forefront of dance revolution". IceNetwork. Retrieved June 18, 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. 5.0 5.1 Kent, Milton (February 16, 1995). "Skating squabble plays to soap opera background". The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved September 7, 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Longman, Jere (January 6, 1994). "OLYMPICS; Roca, Ice Dancer, Breaks Arm But Comes Back to Skate On". The New York Times. Retrieved September 7, 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. "SPORTS PEOPLE: FIGURE SKATING; A Setback for Sur". New York Times. December 22, 1993. Retrieved September 7, 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. Blount, Terry (February 17, 1995). "Latest skating controversy will be detailed on ABC". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved September 7, 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. Harvey, Randy (January 20, 1996). "Punsalan, Swallow Win Dance Title". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved September 7, 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. Sivorinovsky, Alina (2000). Inside Figure Skating. MetroBooks. ISBN 1-58663-005-9.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. "Background Checks: Gorsha Sur '06 - Competitive by Nature". University of California, Hastings College of Law Magazine. Spring 2010. Retrieved 2010-05-18.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links