by Anne Calder | Photos by Daphne Backman
Mariia Holubtsova & Kyryl Bielobrov represent Ukraine on the senior ice dance circuit. The partnership began almost 10 years ago. During their ISU Grand Prix at Skate America, the team shared thoughts with IDC about their early and more recent skating journeys.
Bielobrov was born November 29, 2000 in the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv. Three weeks later on December 20, 2000, Holubtsova was born almost 500 miles south in Odessa, She was three, and he was four when they laced up their skates for the first time.
“I was a single skater,” Bielobrov said.
“I, too, was a single skater, but I had more experience with ice dance,” Holubtsova added. “I invited Kyryl for my first try as a partner. It was the best fit.”
“I had this idea to try ice dance for a long time,” Bielobrov said. “Our Coach, Mariia Tumanovska-Chaika, was making programs for me when I was a single skater. She was always proposing me to try ice dance. She saw some potential.”
In 2014, Holubtsova & Bielobrov made their ISU Junior Grand Prix Series debut at the Nagoya TV Cup in Aichi, Japan.
Between September 2014 and March 2020, the Ukrainians competed at eleven Junior Grand Prix events in nine different countries and two Junior World Championships, 2014 in Hungary and 2020 in Estonia.
The team finished seventh at the 2016 Youth Olympic Games in Lillehammer, Norway. Current Montreal training mates Marjorie Lajoie & Zachary Lagha (CAN) also competed at the Games and finished fourth.
In October 2021, Holubtsova & Bielobrov made their senior international debut placing fourth at the Budapest Trophy in Hungary. In December, the team finished behind Oleksandra Nazarova & Maksym Nikitan at the Ukrainian Nationals. Both teams competed in January at the 2022 European Championships.
The reigning Ukrainian silver medalists had always trained in Kyiv. However, after the Russian invasion of their homeland in February 2022, they moved first to Oberstdorf, Germany, then to Montreal. The team arrived in Canada on July 2 to train at the International Academy of Montreal with Marie-France Dubreuil and coaching staff.
“It was the first time since the beginning of the War that we felt happy,” Bielobrov noted. “We really enjoyed working with them during the practices.”
In September Holubtsova & Bielobrov, spent two weeks in Oberstdorf, Germany prepping for the Nebelhorn Trophy, but returned to Canada to train until departing for Skate America in October.
The team described their feelings of awe when they first began working with the new coaches and skaters.
“The first few weeks, we were like “Out of the World” – our head was not with us,” Bielobrov confessed. “We went to practice and saw Guillaume [Cizeron], who is coaching now. We just could not stop our smiles.”
“We felt silly with big smiles,” Holubtsova echoed.
“We saw those we always saw on TV and dreamed about after so many interviews. Then there was the moment when we were actually speaking with them, and they were teaching us. You can’t concentrate because it’s so amazing. You are waiting so long, and it’s happening.
“First it was very hard, like emotional, but everyone on the team was super supportive. They were friendly and you cannot help but feel part of the team. If you are there, you are part of the team and everybody will support you. Every body will find the best solution.”
When Holubtsova and Bielobrov made their Grand Prix debut at Skate America, it was also their first time visiting the US.
“Our first trip to the US was so exciting,” Holubtsova said. “We live in Europe and never have been to North America before we came to Canada. What we knew of the North American style was what we see in the movies.
“I am so happy to be here at Skate America. It is an amazing experience to skate here,” Bielobrov said.
“At Skate America, we see couples with a lot of experience and know we have much to do,” Holubtsova noted.
“Actually, half of the competition here is from Montreal,” Bielobrov added. “You know everyone almost, so you don’t have to think about who’s going to skate where. You know everything they’re going to do, where you should stand. It’s more efficient training.
“In Montreal there is so much competition. We’ve never had this before. It’s the most competitive Dance Academy maybe ever.”
At Skate America, Holubtsova & Bielobrov spoke about the possibility of skating at a second Grand Prix.
“We hope it will happen,” Holubtsova said.
“We’ve been invited to Sheffield, but we first have to get a Visa. It’s very hard. To come here it took us two months to do,” Bielobrov said..
“After Skate America, I want more,” Holubtsova added. “I want to go to Sheffield, to represent my country and myself. I cross my fingers that everything will work out, get our Visa and go to the Grand Prix.”
The team was issued a Visa and competed at the Sheffield Grand Prix where they finished 10th. They are currently training in Montreal, Canada.