Ukrainian Skaters trying to continue their life and career at home and abroad
Ukrainian Skaters trying to continue their life and career at home and abroad. The emotive performances of Ukrainian skaters Oleksandra Nazarova/Maksym Nikitin, Ivan Shmuratko, and Sofiia Holichenko/Artem Darenskiy at the ISU World Figure Skating Championships 2022 in Montpellier in March last year moved hundreds of thousands of people in the arena and on television (FRA).
Skaters had left their war-torn homeland to perform in France and spread their message of courage and warning.
Russian-initiated hostilities in Ukraine have continued for three months. More than a million Ukrainians have been forced to flee their homes as a result of the conflict. Despite the dangers, some Ukrainian athletes have returned home despite the exodus to Europe. In the last several months, more than 100 skaters have fled the country and have taken up residence in countries around Europe ranging from Poland and Germany all the way down to Denmark, Estonia, and Romania.
Most skaters, no matter where they are in the world, want to keep training and preparing for the upcoming season, no matter where they are.
That’s true for Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games and ISU World Championships participants as well. Nazarova/Nikitin was invited to join the “Dancing on Ice” TV show in Romania as a choreographer for a month following the World Championships. Nikitin said, “This show helped Ukraine a lot.” “We had never done anything like this before, so it was a whole new experience for us.” For the show’s participants, the Skaters produced five unique programs each week. In Vienna, the Ice Dancers assisted their coach Galina Churilova in choreographing routines for the Ukrainian Junior couples in their training group after a month’s training had concluded.
While in Japan, Nazarova/Nikitin, who hails from Kharkiv, Ukraine, was invited to perform with luminaries such as Yuzuru Hanyu (JPN) till the end of June.
There are many things to see and do, and the atmosphere is wonderful. We are appreciative of the chance we have been given. For three days in four different cities, we gave three performances each day. In the words of Nikitin, “Japan is very essential to every skater.” While competing, the two Ukrainian skaters received a lot of encouragement from the crowds. “There were a growing number of fans waving Ukrainian flags during each performance. We’ve had a lot of messages from individuals on Instagram, and there were even some people who didn’t obtain tickets but showed up anyway to hand out Ukrainian flags.
In addition, there were several banners, which was a lovely touch. As a result, we were buoyed up. Many of our favorite songs from Worlds were playing in shopping centers around the country. The other cast members were also incredibly supportive. It was an offer of assistance, and they inquired as to what they might do. “Everyone understands quite well what is occurring, therefore there is probably not a single person in the globe who is not ready to help or at least show compassion,” Maksym Nikitin said. There is still no firm decision on where Nazarova/Nikitin will go or what they will do when they return to Europe.
He has been training in Oberstdorf since May at the International Skating Union Center of Excellence.
With Denis Strekalin, a Ukrainian-born French pair skater, in the Paris region, he spent some time following the ISU World Figure Skating Championships. Ivan, on the other hand, made the decision to migrate to Germany in order to be closer to his mother and brother, who had already made the move to Bavaria.
This is an exciting time for him, as he is working with Michael Huth and Robert Dierking. It’s difficult to raise the money to pay for training in a foreign country. Ukraine’s Skating Federation has limited financial resources. It’s obvious that sports aren’t the most important thing to focus on right now. Throughout the season, I’ve relied on the support of my Polish family. To keep my training going, I’m now looking for sponsors,” the athlete revealed.
There are other Ukrainians in Oberstdorf besides Ivan Shmuratko. As part of their preparations for the ISU European Championships, Maria Tumanovska-Chaika, and her partner Mariia Holubtsova/Kyryl Bielobrov have relocated to the ISU Center of Excellence. Anastasiia Fomchenkova, an ISU World Junior Championships competitor, is also present.
With her students, Marina Amirkhanova, Shmuratko’s longtime coach from Kyiv, has migrated to Tallinn, Estonia. “My family and friends stayed in Kyiv, but thank God, my daughter is in England,” the coach stated. As things settle down in Kyiv, everyone knows that the war hasn’t ended and that Russia will try to retake the city at some point. Even from where I am in Estonia, the Russian border is too close for comfort. It’s tough for me to live in an atmosphere of constant fear. Russia’s aggression towards the Baltic nations and other countries in Eastern Europe worries me. Nothing, not even my job, is able to take my mind off of these ideas. At the age of 62, I find it difficult to begin anew. There is nothing I can do. Despite her desire to return to Kyiv, Amirkhanova determined that it was too early.
The Skaters have a difficult time being away from home as the conflict rages on. As quickly as possible, we Ukrainians must do everything in our power to secure victory.” I’m a professional skater, and skating is the thing I like the most. Athletes in Ukraine need to keep practicing and competing to keep Ukraine on the international stage and put our flags on the podium, I believe now is the best time. Our house must support us, Shmuratko said. It’s challenging to feel accountable for my own safety when so many people are losing their lives there. Finishing our assignment is the only thing left to do.
All of my family members are really significant to me (in Ukraine). Talking to other individuals has always been beneficial to me. It can be really difficult at times. It makes me feel at home to listen to a lot of Ukrainian music. As a thank you, I’m working on putting together one of the shows. In order to avoid feeling guilty, one must put in the effort, be on the ice, and be active.
Back to Ukraine
Family and acquaintances back in Ukraine include the 20-year-old student’s dad in Kyiv and an uncle in Odessa, among others.
After competing at the World Championships in Torun, Poland, Pair Skaters Sofiia Holichenko/Artem Darensky and their coach Lilia Batutina returned to Dnipro, Ukraine on May 24th, 2022 despite the ongoing conflict and air attacks on cities such as Kyiv and Lviv.
“We are in the middle of the group.” Our area is raging with fires, and air alarms frequently sound in the city. It was just a few days ago when our city was hit by a missile,” Artem stated. Our minds can be diverted from bad thoughts by training.” The worst course of action is to do nothing and just wait it out. They are constantly there for us to help us to train and feel comfortable because of the continual support we receive from our families, coaches, and friends,” he said, noting the support they receive from the ice-rink management, the club, and the members of their family. This season is going to be a stimulating one for us. In spite of the difficulties, we will continue to train and to represent our nation.”
Keeping track of their skaters is a top priority for the Ukrainian Skating Federation. They started a campaign to gather money and keep an eye on the situation in their country. In Odessa, skaters practice on a small ice surface, and in Dnipro, there are two rinks, one of which is used for humanitarian relief, while the other is smaller and in a tent.
Several things have changed for the skaters and coaches as a result. Coach Aleksandr Artyshchenko lived in Irpin, a Kyiv suburb that had been extensively damaged and occupied during the conflict. Skaters’ and coaches’ apartments in Kharkiv were severely damaged or destroyed. Kharkiv had three ice rinks demolished, and the Federation does not know the present situation of the recently opened rinks in Melitopol and Mariupol in the south of Ukraine. They’ve most likely vanished. As Anastasiia Makarova, a judge and federation official pointed out, there were not many rinks in Ukraine, to begin with.
“Unfortunately, the news from Ukraine is not particularly encouraging, and the fighting is still going on,” said Nikitin. In addition, two ice rinks, as well as two arenas where we practiced, have been attacked in our city since the World Championships.” Even if the war is over tomorrow, our skaters in Kharkiv will not be able to train in their beloved city. However, we are confident that Ukraine will prevail.
We will win and return to our homes, where we will restore everything and continue to train. However, despite the fact that reading the news and calling home to ask how things are going or whether there have been any air raids are two of the most difficult things to do, you must. In spite of the prolonged nature of this conflict, we remain optimistic and confident that good will ultimately triumph over evil, as Ukraine will reclaim its lost territory, and not a single life will be lost or structure destroyed in vain.