Stories from the 2023 Ice Dance Final

by Anne Calder

The 2022-2023 Ice Dance Final was held at the Skating Club of Boston from November 8-11 in conjunction with the Eastern Singles Sectional Competition. At the event, thirteen Junior and five Senior teams without byes qualified for the US National Championships in San Jose, California.

Juvenile, Intermediate and Novice ice dance teams were selected to the National Development Team. These  athletes will also be invited to participate in the High Performance National Development Camp held during the U.S. Championships.

The Ice Dance Final had lots of stories circulating inside the walls of the new facility. For many dancers, it was their third Final, which had its genesis back in 2019 in Hyannis, Massachusetts.

Balancing Act
Several athletes shared stories about blending their skating careers with academics and even trying new genres that complement their ice dancing.  

Jenna Hauer & Benjamin Starr, 2022-2023 Final Junior bronze medalists drive across state lines to train while Starr attends Brandeis University in Waltham, MA.

“It’s tough to go back and forth and then skate afterwards, so we’ve been trying to split it up,” Hauer said. “He comes [to Connecticut] on the weekends, and I drive up during the week.” 

Starr, who is taking a full load of five classes noted, “It’s tough, but I love every second of it. I know a lot of people just say that. I’m also doing a good amount of extra curricular through the school. I’m currently pushing to be a Research Assistant / Teaching Assistant.”

The team continues to work with long-time coach Svetlana Kulikova while in Connecticut, but also trains at the Colonial Skating Club in Boxborough with Dmitri Boundoukin when in Massachusetts.

“We’re really happy we were able to bring him on to the team,” Starr said. “He’s been a great addition.”  

Junior ice dancers, Kristina Bland and Matthew Sperry are students at the University of Michigan. Bland is a freshman in LSA and chose Russian as her required language.

“A lot of my coaches are Russian, and I know a lot of Russian skaters. I thought it would be a lot of fun if I understood their language, and I could speak it to them.” 

Sperry is studying Mechanical Engineering. As a sophomore, he’s enrolled in advanced classes, one that includes group building of robots, which along with drones is a concentration he may eventually pursue.

TJ Carey, senior ice dancer with partner Caroline Depietri is completing his final semester at the Boston University School of Journalism. He is interested in the area of Sports Communication. Carey has posted articles on

Emilea Zingas, who partners with Vadym Kolesnik on the senior level, is an undergraduate neuroscience major at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan.

“It’s going well,” said the St. Clair Shores skater. “It’s been challenging trying to balance school and skating since ice dance is a really big time commitment, but I love it. I love being busy, and it’s going really well. I’m lucky I have people around me to help me study.”

Tyler Vollmer and partner Riona Harris train in Atlanta, Georgia. Unfortunately, the team had to withdraw during the Senior Free Dance due to injury. Vollmer graduated from UCLA at the age of 19, with a double major in Geophysics and Math/Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences. After being awarded the Presidential Fellowship at Georgia Tech he joined the PH.D Program in Ocean Science and Engineering. While a student at UCLA, Vollmer did some collegiate team skating.

Ethan Peal has a very hectic schedule to accommodate his skating and Aeronautical Engineering major. The Peal family lives in Nashville, TN and Ethan attends classes Tuesday – Friday morning at the University of Alabama, Huntsville. Partner, Elliana and dad, Rob drive the two hours south to the campus and squeeze in a 2.5  training session on Wednesday. The siblings skate every day they are together in Nashville.

“It’s been an adjustment, but I’ve gotten more used to it,” Ethan said. “It’s hard. It’s been stressful. It’s a lot of math. Luckily I have a great support team.”

Meanwhile, Elliana has her own unbelievable schedule. She skates every morning, attends virtual high school during the day and dances every evening and weekends at the DC Dance Factory in Franklin, TN. Her dance routines are between 8-10 minutes of straight dancing, and she has 6-8 of them memorized.

“Dance is my own thing,” Elliana said. “I like to be able to do dance without the involvement of family. I’m able to use my dance skills on and off the ice. Dance makes me a lot more fluid on the ice.”

Angela Ling & Caleb Wein

Caleb Wein is a fourth year student at the University of Maryland majoring in Aeronautical Engineering.  

“A while back, I took a virtual dance class as a General-Education type of thing. I got very involved with the    Department of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies. Last Spring I got into a piece by one of the Graduate students, so I performed in their Spring Dance Concert. Over the summer, I was asked if I would be interested in performing in two pieces for the Fall. One was by an undergraduate and the other by a graduate student named Carlo. I said “Yes” to both.”

November 17-20 three of the Department’s M.F.A. dance candidates presented their thesis work. One was   “Last Dance, Lost Dance” by Carlo Antonio Villanueva. The piece featured eight undergraduates (including Caleb Wein), and graduate students dancing with varying interests and levels of experience plus Villanueva.

It’s been a lot of fun and very informative in different ways. All the choreographers there have different styles and different things they’re looking for,” explained Wein. “I can take things from there and take them on the ice. They all move in different ways, so there’s different types of movement I can bring in to our programs. There’s also different approaches while we’re skating. It’s been nice.” 

“They don’t have boundaries in their heads, so they think very outside the box,” added ice dance partner Angela Ling, who is taking a “gap” year between high school graduation and college.

Boston Bits

Juliette and Lucas Shadid were Novice bronze medalists at the first Ice Dance Final in 2019 in Hyannis, MA. Injuries kept the siblings off-ice for over two and a half years. After two disappointing competitions this past summer, the team has returned and qualified to participate at the U.S. Nationals in San Jose, CA.

Volodymyr Horovyi (Junior)  and young Denis Bledsoe (Juvenile) have developed a wonderful relationship during competitions. Vova is Ukrainian and Denis is Russian. They both train at the International Skating Academy in Estero, FL. “He’s like a small brother,” Vova said with a smile.

In addition to the Ice Dance Final podium teams, Sectional winners were also awarded medals for their achievements. “I like getting medals,” said Juvenile gold medalist Marian Carhart. “In ice dance, you usually get one medal, but we got two. That was exciting. I really liked the ceremony when they put on the medal.”

After Hurricane Ian decimated southwest Florida, Herz Arena, home to the Everblades FSC was used as a mega shelter to house several hundred storm refugees. For over three weeks, skaters traveled two hours to other rinks to train.

Luke Witkowski competed and qualified in both Novice Men and Novice Ice dance. Ryedin Rudedenman competed in both Intermediate Ice Dance and Novice Men.

The Junior Grand Prix teams organized their own photo shoot after the awards. What a great display of enthusiasm and encouragement of one another!

Heard it Through the Grapevine

Ice dancer YuanShi Jin, who is partnered with Leah Krauskopf in Seniors, visited his home in China in January 2020, then opted to extend his trip through Chinese New Year. Due to the Covid border closings, he was unable to leave for two years.

Several of the ice dance teams are using the expertise of pairs coaches to assist in the development and strengthening of their elements. Simon Shnapir works with his former singles student, Caroline Depietri and partner TJ Carey with their lifts, spins and what they are doing for the Choreographed Jumps. “Simon has made me personally a much more confident lifter and competitor,” said Carey.  “He’s helped me feel more confident when we’re out there on the ice.” 

Breelie Taylor, former partner with Tyler Vollmer currently performs with Disney on Ice.

Anabelle Larson also travels back and forth from the Florida east coast to the west coast to train with partner Jonathan Young at the Everblades FSC in Estero, Florida.

Olivia Flores, sister of Senior ice dancer, Isabella Flores, qualified in Junior Pairs  with partner Luke Wang for US Nationals. The Novice singles skater finished second at the Midwestern Sectionals and qualified to also compete at the U.S. Nationals in the Women’s division. 

Every morning at the Great Park Ice Arena in Irvine, CA when Coach Christine Fowler-Binder or Coach Chris Knierim leads a stroking session, Juliette and Lucas Shadid are the lone ice dance team in the group of pairs. “Everyone needs to skate well. Everyone needs to bend their knees and do great edges, so that part is all the same. It’s about 15 – 30 minutes of stroking with all their friends together. It’s awesome.” 

Thirteen sets of sibling partnerships competed in the Ice Dance Final.

On Top of the Podium

Emilea Zingas & Vadym Kolesnik

Emilea Zingas & Vadym Kolesnik used a Philip Glass medley, which includes “Metamorphosis”, Violin Concerto No 1, “Truman Sleeps (The Truman Show) and “Escape” (The Hours) to claim Senior gold and also qualify for the 2023 US Nationals in San Jose, CA. The team trains in Michigan with Igor Shpilband’s group.

Leah Neset & Artem Markelov won gold for their powerful performance to music from Pirates of the Caribbean. The Colorado Springs based athletes are the defending Junior US National Champions and are coached by Elena Dostatni.

Sylvia Li & Rowan Le Coq’s danced to West Side Story, which included a quick costume flip from shorts to dress for the song Maria”. The three-time Final medalists added a Novice gold to their collection. Kristin Fraser Lukanin and Igor Lukanin coach the athletes.

Grace & Luke Fischer danced a fast-moving Intermediate gold medal performance to “I Can’t Touch This” by MC Hammer, “Waterfalls” by TLC and “Gonna Make You Sweat” (Everybody Dance Now). The team is coached by Katherine Hill and Ben Agosto in Colorado Springs, CO.

Marian Carhart & Denis Bledsoe won gold in the Juvenile Division with a graceful airy performance to the music of Italian Composer, Ennio Morricone from the film Cinema Paradiso. Their coaches include Marina Zoueva and Ilya Tkachenko.

Senior Podium:
1. Emilea Zingas (St. Clair Shores FSC) & Vadym Kolesnik (SC of New York)
2. Isabella Flores & Ivan Desyatov (Thunderbirds FSC)
3. Angela Ling (Peninsula SC) & Caleb Wein (Washington FSC)
4. Raffaella Koncius (Los Angeles FSC) & Alexey Shchepetov (Florida Everblades FSC)

Junior Podium:
1. Leah Neset & Artem Markelov (Magic City FSC)
2. Helena Carhart & Volodymyr Horovyi (Florida Everblades FSC)
3. Jenna Hauer (All Year FSC) & Benjamin Starr (Charter Oak FSC)
4. Vanessa Pham (SC of Houston) & Jonathan Rogers (Texas Gulf Coast FSC)

Novice Podium:
1. Sylvia Li (N. Jersey FSC) & Rowan Le Coq (SC of New York)
2. Octavia Herai (All Year FSC) Michael Boutsan (Individual Member)
3. Emily Renzi (SC of New York) William Lissauer (All Year FSC)
4. Annelise Stapert  & Maxim Korotcov (ION FSC)

Intermediate Podium:
1. Grace Fischer & Luke Fischer (Broadmoor SC)
2. Molli Taylorson & Kejin Peng (Carolinas FSC)
3. Sarah Yoo & Nicholas Ying (SC of Boston)
4. Celine Chen & Nathan Chen (All Year FSC)

Juvenile Podium:
1. Marian Carhart & Denis Bledsoe (Florida Everglades FSC) 
2. Rylen Lukanin (All Year FSC) & Patrick O’Brien (North Jersey FSC)
3. Natalie Leitan & Nathan Leitan (Washington FSC)
4. Marina Li & Justin Liao (North Jersey FSC)