An Early Start
Gordeeva was born in 1971 in the Soviet capital of Moscow. Her mother was a teletype operator for the Soviet news agency, Tass, and her father was a dancer for the Alexandrov Song and Dance Ensemble of the Soviet Army. From her father, Gordeeva inherited a talent for graceful movement. She began skating when she was four years old.
In 1982, when Gordeeva was eleven years old, she began skating with Sergei Grinkov, who was four years her senior, at the Central Army Club in Moscow. They developed a close relationship, much like that of a brother and sister; according to E. M. Swift in Sports Illustrated, they skated "lyrically, harmoniously, but without emotional tension."
In 1984, they competed in the junior world championships, coming in fifth; in the year after that, they won a gold medal. In 1986, they won the first of four world championships. They would take the world title again in 1987, 1989, and 1990.