Ekaterina Riazanova & Jonathan Guerreiro

riaz-guerTell us about how you formed your partnership.  
Jonathan: We met at summer skating camp in Moscow while we were with other partners. Two years later, our coach put us together for a tryout and we felt a connection immediately.

Tell us about the dynamic in your training group. Who else trains with you? How does it work with your coach spending time with each of you?
Both: We are lucky to have three senior couples as well as one other junior couple. There are no allocated times for lessons. We all come to practice at the same time and leave at the same time, so we have to compete for the coaches’ time and make sure we work hard and correct things quickly; because if we don’t, there’s always someone standing waiting for their turn.

So far we have no complaints. It seems to work well. We are all very competitive, which in turn pushes one to do his best.

At your first JGP this season, you had performances that were not your best. How did you regroup to do so well at your 2nd event?
Both: First, we spent a few days thinking about what went wrong and why it happened. Then we came to practice and had a very long and productive talk with our coaches. After a few hours of discussion, we understood what was needed to be done before Madrid. We did everything we could to make sure we redeemed ourselves in the eyes of everyone: our coaches, ourselves, all the people who support us and last, but not least, those people who dislike us. 

Jonathan, is it true that your father used to be the tour manager for Torvill & Dean and your mom was on the tour?
Jonathan: Yes, that’s true. Dad started working with Torvill and Dean straight after they won the 1984 gold medal and embarked on their tour of Australia and New Zealand. From my understanding, he worked and traveled the world with them for about eight years. Mum met dad in September 1989 when mum was invited to join the show “Torvill and Dean and the Russian All-Stars” touring in America at the time. I think soon I’ll be able to write a book about it. Sometimes I still remember looking at the photos of mum and dad and seeing a large group of skaters whose names didn’t mean much to me at the time (except Torvill and Dean and Tatiana Tarasova), but who are now big names in the ice skating world today–Igor Shpilband , Elena Garanina, Valeri Spiridonov, Irina Zhuk, and Alexander Svinin. So mum and dad did keep good company.

Did your parent’s background in skating have anything to do with you taking to the ice yourself?
Jonathan: Yes it did, especially at the beginning . When I was little, I used to love watching videos of ice dancing–especially ones were my mum skated–so when I became a little older, I decided to try it for myself. At first, I found it fun and enjoyed going to practices, then after a while I actually wanted to give it up. I guess I got a little too lazy (waking up at 5:00 in the morning is not every child’s dream), but I was at the age where I didn’t quite know what I wanted myself, so for a year or so my parents pushed me to continue, and I am very thankful to them today for this.  

Since you spent some of your childhood living in Australia, what was it like and how did you adjust to living in Russia? 
Jonathan: First of all, you must understand even though I was born in Australia, my background and culture has always had a Russian touch to it! After all, my mum is Russian and my Russian grandparents lived with us a good portion of my childhood, so there was no shortage of Russian in our home!!!! There was no real adjusting, because the culture was close to me and I had no problems with the language. Yes, we did leave in a beautiful part of the world, and, as you can imagine, Australia is very different from Moscow. However, I love both. In Australia, life was much easier. We lived in a beautiful house and spent the weekends sunbathing near the ocean. We enjoyed the beaches, great seafood, and a carefree lifestyle.

But Moscow has its own beauties and riches with its arts and some many other things that Australia doesn’t have. I’m not sure if life at the moment here is easy, but it’s OK. In Moscow, we live in an apartment, and an excellent weekend here would be to go to a forest in summer or spring and make a barbeque. However, I had it easy. We already had many friends and relatives here before we came. I’ve spoken Russian since I was little, so there was no language barrier, so I had no problems fitting in. Nevertheless, if we had stayed in Australia, I understand that I could never achieve what I am trying to achieve. The ice skating and ice dancing culture in Russia is amazing, and I am very happy to be part of it.

Ekaterina, how did you get started in skating?
Ekaterina: I started skating when I was five. My friend used to be a skater, and she invited me to come to her practice one day to watch, and I loved it straight away. However, first I took up free skating for a few years. Then my coach suggested I try dance, because I was having all sorts of problems due to jumps.

Do you have any siblings? Do they skate also? 
Ekaterina: No, my older brother tried skating like most Russian children–on frozen ponds in winter–but he thought it was boring. Now he is working and studying in a Moscow institute. 

Jonathan: Yes, I have two younger brothers, Jason and Justin. Both tried skating but didn’t like it. Jason at the moment is in year 6 at school and participates in school soccer games. Justin is in year 3 and has lessons in ballroom dancing.

Who are your skating influences?
Both: Isabelle Delobel & Olivier Schoenfelder, Oksana Domnina & Maxim Shabalin, and Oksana Grishuk & Evgeny Platov.

What are your off ice hobbies?
Ekaterina: I, like most girls, love shopping! I also enjoy reading (especially modern romance), going to the cinema, and cooking.

Jonathan: I enjoy going to the movies and spending time with friends. I also am addicted to Facebook and spend a lot of my free time there!

What did you enjoy most of competing at the first combined senior and junior grand prix final in Korea? 
Both: What we both enjoyed most was that the atmosphere was so intense–in a good way. There were so many journalists, cameramen, and media that we thought we were at a football match. Of course, competing at the same event as the top six skaters in the world (in all disciplines) was excellent. Not only did we get the chance to watch them during the competitions, but we also were able to talk to them both at and after the banquet. What really amazed us was how down to earth they are.

What do you like most about skating with your partner? 
Ekaterina: On the ice, Jonathan is a very good partner he is very artistic and has good edges. He is a positive person, very kind and considerate. I can trust him with anything and discuss anything with him, and I know he will always be there for me.

Jonathan: Katia is a very, very good friend! She understands me–both on and off the ice–and I do my best to understand her. She is always happy and funny. On the ice, Katia is very hard working and elegant and really strong technically. What more could you ask for?