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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Soviet Skating Star Ivanova Dead at 38

APIvanova performing at a figure skating championship in Moscow in February 1986.
Figure skater Kira Ivanova, a bronze medalist in the 1984 Olympics, was found dead in her apartment, the chairman of the Russian Figure Skating Federation said. She was 38.

Ivanova's neighbors found her covered with knife wounds, figure skating official Valentin Piseyev said Friday. He said police told him she was killed several days ago.

She had been battling alcoholism in recent years, he said.

"It's shocking," said Yelena Valova, who won three pairs world titles and the 1984 Olympic gold medal with partner Oleg Vassilyev. "We used to be really good friends. Best friends, I'd say."

Valova, speaking from the Pittsburgh area, said she and Ivanova began skating together when they were 11 as part of a program designed to produce a medal winner in ladies singles. While the former Soviet Union had won Olympic medals in men's, pairs and ice dance, it lagged behind the United States and other Western countries in ladies.

When Ivanova won the bronze at the Sarajevo Games, she became the first female skater from the Soviet Union to win a medal in Olympic singles. She finished behind Katarina Witt, who won the first of her two gold medals in Sarajevo, and American Rosalynn Sumners.

"Kira was very determined, eager," Valova said. "I knew she would get the medal because she wanted to be good. ... She was a great skater. A skater Russia was always proud of.

"She opened the door for everyone else, for those competing right now."

The next year, at the 1985 world championships in Tokyo, Ivanova won the silver medal. She again finished behind Witt, but placed ahead of American Tiffany Chin, the bronze medalist.

Valova said that when she thinks of Ivanova, she sees her skating an exhibition program to "Besame Mucho."

"She was pretty happy, a little bit sexy, very confident," Valova said, recalling Ivanova's program. "That's the way she skated, and that's the way, I think, she lived her life."

A member of the Soviet team from 1978 to 1988, Ivanova performed professionally after leaving amateur skating. She skated in an ice show called the Theater of Ice Miniatures, founded by four-time champion of the Soviet Union Igor Bobrin.

In 1991, she started coaching children at Dynamo Stadium in Moscow, but quit in August, Piseyev said.

"Ivanova became addicted to alcohol in recent years and underwent several treatments, but with no visible results," Piseyev said.

No information was available on survivors or funeral plans.