Next week, Poland’s Natalia Kaliszek & Maksym Spodyriev will close out their third season as a team at the 2017 World Championships in Helsinki, Finland. At the World Championships, they will not only aim to qualify for the free dance for the second consecutive season, but also to earn Poland a berth at the 2018 Winter Olympic Games, which will be held in Pyeongchang, South Korea, less than one year from now. In advance of this important competition, Kaliszek & Spodyriev took some time to answer some questions from Team IDC.

What drew each of you to ice dance? 

When I competed in the pair category, my coach Sylwia proposed to me to switch to ice dancing. It attracted me at once because I have loved dancing for all my life.

Maksym: I started dancing on ice at the age of 14. Ice dance coaches asked me to try. That was something new for me to skate like one team with someone else and I wanted to try that, to learn ice dance elements. My favorite thing about the ice dance is the feeling of a well done program, the feeling when you have finished your presentation, you hear the applause and the possibility to share this feeling with your partner.

How did you start skating and what were your first impressions?
Natalia: My adventure with figure skating started at age of four. My mom took me and my brother to an ice rink. I liked it at once. There I met my first coach. She invited us to train this beautiful sport.

Maksym: I started to skate at the age of 5 in Kharkov, Ukraine. That was an idea of my mom, she loved that awesome sport and wanted to try me that. I enjoyed it very much, especially the feeling of speed. Training was very interesting and fun. 

Natalia, what was it like to skate with your brother?
Natalia: The beginning with my brother was difficult to fit perfectly together. It was hard because of difference of our characters. In my opinion, it’s easier to skate in a couple with another person than a brother.

Natalia, you have competed in singles, pairs and ice dance. Which do you think is the most difficult? 

I think that the most difficult is to skate ice dancing, because it’s hard to fit perfectly with a partner. In this category every detail is important and has to be done. On the other hand, ice dance is the most fun for me because it gives me a lot of satisfaction, and I just love to dance.

How did you become partners?
Natalia: My coach Sylwia recommended Maks and he came to Toruń two years ago for a try-out. I did a few before, with different boys, but none of it worked. When I first skated together with Maks, we both have realized that this mix, together with hard work, may work.

What is your favorite thing about skating with your partner?
Natalia: My favorite thing about skating with Maks is the compatibility of our characters according to our sport ambitions. We both are very ambitious and hard workers. We have the same goals that we want to achieve. We both have pretty soft characters so we didn’t have problems working together. We just like spending time together both on and off ice so it is then much easier to work hard in a nice and friendly atmosphere.

Maksym: My favorite thing about skating with Natalia is our aspiration to create new things, new elements, something innovative, and to learn and grow as ice dancers. Beside our work on ice we are a very good friends, and it helps a lot to train in a very friendly and warm atmosphere.

Describe your training day.
Natalia & Maksym: Every day we train almost eight hours. It is like a full-time job now. Apart from skating we have ballet and gym, and other off-ice activities, which we actually need. In summer time, we go to Marina Zoueva’s group.

What is it like to work with your coach, Sylwia, who is a 9-time Polish champion and a World Junior Champion?
Natalia & Maksym: In our opinion, Sylwia is the best coach for us. She’s very demanding and strict but at the same time very friendly. She is very knowledgeable and experienced. Every day, every practice, she is on skates with us, which is very helpful. Thanks to her we already achieved a lot. Apart from skating, we are the best friends.

Do you share your training ice with other teams? 
Natalia & Maksym: Unfortunately we don’t have other teams who train with us. That is why, in summer time, we go to Marina Zoueva’s group to train with other teams.

This year’s short dance theme allowed for the use of hip hop as a match for swing. How did you decide to use this rhythm?
Natalia & Maksym: We like new challenges and Hip Hop is one of them. We wanted to try a kind of dance which was never used on ice, and try to transfer it on ice. We hope we succeed. For sure we still have to work hard on it, as still a lot should be improved.

Tell us about your free program for 2016/17 to Dirty Dancing.
Natalia & Maksym: Our coach Sylwia gave us this idea and we agreed on it at once. We wanted to have a different program than the others, different than the trend is now. We wanted to have a real “dancing” program, one that will be remembered. This music and story is very famous. People know it and know how to dance it. We just try to show the dance on ice, as well as the very well-known story of love.

How do you spend your free time?
Natalia & Maksym: If we have a bit of free time we both definitely like to have a rest and relax after very hard days of practices. Wwe both enjoy swimming and some sauna on weekends, spending time with our families and friends, listening to music and watching new films. Maks enjoys bowling, motorsport, and martial arts too. Natalia loves reading and dancing for fun.

What are your plans for the future?
Natalia: When I will finish my sport career, I plan to become a professional coach and open a nursery school with figure skating sessions.

Maksym: My plans for future is of course to make a dream to compete in Olympic Games. When I finish my ice dance career, I would like to teach children to skate in ice dance, and to help teams that will skate and compete.

Is there anything you would like our readers, ice dance fans, to know about you?
Natalia & Maksym: Figure Skating is our life, it is our full time job. It’s a lifestyle now. It is a way for us to make what we imagine, to create beautiful things on ice. It is important to us not only to work hard to make our dreams come true, but also to experience the whole journey to make it happen…we just love it.

You can learn more about Natalia Kaliszek & Maksym Spodyriev, by visiting their official website, Facebook page, or following them on Instagram.