Aleksey Ulanov started to skate pairs with his sister Yelena and in 1968 they won a bronze at the Soviet Championships. In fall 1968 Ulanov teamed together with Irina Rodnina and they quickly rose to the top of world’s pairs skating. In 1969 they won a bronze at the Soviet Championships and won both the World and European Championships, which they would also win for the next three years. Ulanov and Rodnina won gold at the 1972 Olympic Games and garnered two Soviet titles in 1970 and 1971. After the 1972 Olympic Games Ulanov became romantically involved with Lyudmila Smirnova, another pairs skater who won a silver medal at the 1972 Olympics, behind Rodnina and Ulanov. Rodnina and Ulanov split up as skaters and Ulanov began to skate with Smirnova, and they would later marry. Ulanov and Smirnova won silvers at the 1973 World and European Championships and the 1974 World Championships and a bronze at the 1974 European Championships, always placing behind Rodnina and her new partner Aleksandr Zaytsev. They also won bronze at the 1973 Soviet Championships. After his competitive career Ulanov worked as a figure skating coach and also skated professionally in ice shows.