by Anne Calder
Helena Carhart became an ice dancer by accident. She was a thirteen year old intermediate singles skater when she was injured. Ironically a similar situation happened to her older sister, Adrienne, who had incurred a hip injury and was now an ice dancer.
“I really enjoyed the skating aspect of singles, less so the jumps and spins,” Carhart explained. “Ice dance was a last hope for skating.”
In 2019 at age 14, Carhart left New York City and joined her sister to train with Marina Zoueva at the International Skating Academy in Florida. After ice dancing for only three months, she partnered with Volodymyr Horovyi.
“I, too, skated freestyle in the Ukraine before ice dance,” Horovyi said. “My dad took my brother to figure skating, and I wanted to go too. I did singles for six years, then I fell on my knee and had a bad injury, so I couldn’t jump any more. I took a one year break, then started missing it, so I began ice dance and have been doing it ever since.”
“I had a long, good relationship with my partner Anna Cherniavska. [They were 2018 Ukrainian Junior National bronze medalists]. In the end, it wasn’t the best, so we broke up,” Horovyi explained. “I was searching for a partner in Israel, Poland and Germany. I wanted to see the USA, and what it looks like.”
Horovyi chose Canton, Michigan where he trained with Coach Marina Zoueva before she relocated to Estero, Florida in early 2019. The young Ukrainian eventually followed.
One summer day at the International Skating Academy in Hertz Arena, he saw Carhart skating and asked Marina Zoueva for a tryout.
“The moment we skated together, I knew she was going to be my partner,” Horovyi said. “It was just a feeling. We have now been partners for three years.”
The duo skated on the novice level finishing second in November at the 2019 first U.S. Ice Dance Final in Hyannis, Massachusetts. The following season COVID invaded the world and the skating community faced closed ice rinks and canceled competitions.
In 2021, they competed at Chesapeake, Lake Placid and the Novice & Junior Challenge where they took home the gold medal. At the U.S. Championship Series in Alpharetta, Georgia, the team qualified for its first U.S. National Championships.
In early January 2022, they competed in Nashville, Tennessee and finished just off the podium in fifth place.
The team began the current season winning a gold medal at the Chesapeake Open, followed by bronze at the Lake Placid Ice Dance International and then another golden win at the Onyx Challenge.
Working with Internationally renowned Coach Marina Zoueva has been exciting for the teammates.
“It’s nice,” Horovyi said. “She has so much experience, you never know what she will say to you. I’m very thankful that I’m skating with her because I know I’m in good hands.”
Carhart added, “I agree. She has so much experience that she’ll just pull things out. She had us wear ankle weights one time to help lift our legs a little higher. Whether it’s skating or life, she has some good words of wisdom and advice. It’s really wonderful working with her.”
“She’s really good at talking to us about problems. She doesn’t get overly emotional. She’s able to connect with us on a deeper level. She’s not only our coach, she’s also a role model.”
Many people assist in choreographing their programs.
“Marina helps, but Ilya does a lot of the choreography,” explained Carhart. “Sometimes we get outside people to come, too. We have a ballroom dancer, a Broadway star. Yelena Sokolova is our amazing ballet teacher.”
“We have different specialists in figure skating and other areas,” added Horovyi.
Carhart and Horovyi discussed their rhythm and free dances beginning with her enthusiasm for the Argentine Tango pattern dance.
“I love it,” Carhart said. “We did it in novice our first year together. I’m not naturally a dancy person. It doesn’t come natural to me. It’s very natural to Vova. This was my year to redeem myself from novice, to really bring out the Tango, the face, the expression, so that’s why I’m happy to do it.”
“I have lots of experience with Tango because in the beginning with my skating I started with the Tango,” Horovyi explained. “I’m skating ice dance maybe 9 or 10 years, and I remember my first program was Tango. I know what to do for the judges. I like this dance.”
“The music is from Pirates of the Caribbean,” Carhart said. “When Vova first played it for me, he didn’t tell me what it was. We really like it because it’s different. Not everyone knows what it is.”
The songs are “Angelica” and “Angry and Dead Again” by Hans Zimmer, Rodrigo y Gabriela.
“Ilya did a lot of the choreography and, of course, Marina. We also had help from former professional ballroom dancer, Maxim Kozhevnikov, who specializes in International Style Latin ballroom dancing.”
“The free dance is a contemporary piece – kind of modernish – “Long Way Down” and “Another Love” by Tom Odell,” Carhart said. “Randi Strong [So You Think You Can Dance ] helped with the choreography along with Ilya and Marina.”
Carhart explained their process of making season goals. “We look at our program in layers, so a lot of our short term goals include adding more emotion or even though we’re tired in the second half of the program, making it sharper than the first. We like to add layers to the program by connecting more with the judges, the audience and each other.”
“We have a lot of goals, and we’re trying to do our best to have them come true,” Horovyi said. “Hopefully we will get to go to the JGP Final and Junior Worlds.”
There are four Carhart female siblings, and all are involved in figure skating: Adrienne, Helena and Marian are ice dancers. Veronica competes in singles. Recently at the Onyx Challenge, Helena and Marian with their partners each won the gold medal in the junior and juvenile ice dance divisions.
Helena Carhart & Volodymyr Horovyi will compete at the Junior Grand Prix Series Solidarity Cup September 28-October 1 and Baltic Cup October 5-8. Both events will be held in Gdansk, Poland.
“I am very excited to perform our programs on these international arenas because I haven’t travelled internationally for Team USA,” Carhart said. “We have been working very hard on our programs and are excited to take the next step in our career together and see how it propels us forward.”
“When we heard [about the assignments], we were excited and really happy,” Horovyi added. “We are looking forward to having the opportunity to go International and also to represent the United States.”
All Junior Grand Prix events are streamed on the ISU Youtube Channel.