Interview & photo by Ashley Duenas.
Julia Golovina and Oleg Voiko are ice dancers who represent Ukraine. This season, they moved to the US to train and took time from their busy schedule to talk with us.
I started to skate at age 7, my grandmother loved to watch skating on TV and she brought me to the rink. It was ok at first but then I fell in love with it. I switched to Dance at age 13 because I started to grow and thought I would enjoy skating with Boys. My first partner was Denis Egorov. We partnered until I was 17. I then partnered with Oleg at 18. At that time I also moved to Ukraine.
I began skating when I was 3 years old. In 1996 I began competitive ice-dance with my former partner, Kristina Kobaladze. We skated until 2000. I teamed up with Julia that same year and we have been together for 4 years.
What influenced you to move to the United States?
Julia: We had a very unique opportunity to move to the United States and train with Rinat Farkhoutdinov. I had met Rinat when I was very young in Russia, I was 13 and just started to dance and Rinat skated for a short time in the same rink. A friend of mine, Ramil Sarkulov had moved to the US to train with Rinat and highly recommended we take advantage of the opportunity to train in another country with a very creative and enthusiastic new coach. After a lot of thought, here we are, enjoying our new rink and friends.
Oleg: We wanted to improve our style and were looking for a change of coach.
What is the biggest difference and some challenges training in Texas compared to Ukraine?
Julia: Of course the hardest part of training in Texas is the distance from my family and friends. I miss them very much. I now have more time for self-improvement, such as reading and practicing my English. The Rink that we train at, Dr. Pepper Stars center in Euless, Texas has been very supportive of the Dancing program and we have great dance ice and a very supportive group of coaches, trainers and skaters. It is a really good place to skate.
O: The biggest difference is the schedule. Before we would have evening practices where as now we skate in the mornings and afternoons and on better ice. There is also a difference in the way we train with our technique and style. As far as challenges I’d have to say – nothing. Skating in Texas is no different from skating in another foreign country. I’ve been fortunate enough to train in many different places from Italy, Russia, to Ukraine so the transition here was simple for me.
If the opportunity provided itself would you move back to Ukraine for training?
Julia: Not in the near future. Although we miss Ukraine and Russia, we also understand that this is the best place for us right now. We have a great coach and a wonderful opportunity to advance our skating because of the supportive environment
Oleg: Most likely no. I’d like to stay here.
You have a new coach, Rinat Farkhoutdinov, who is fresh from the world of competitive ice dancing, how do you like working with him?
Julia: Rinat is the type of coach that after a very short time, you gain great respect for and want to learn from. Each practice he pushes you just a little bit further and is always demanding our best. He is young and always trying to break new ground with fresh ideas. I would say that we are learning together, a partnership that we hope will bring us all closer to our goals. We also have the support of our ballet teacher Evgeni Nemirovsky who has complimented Rinats instruction. Combined we are very lucky to have such exceptional instruction and anticipate that each season we will be better.
Oleg: I like working with Rinat very much!!! He is a young coach, very good, and hardworking. He’s also compassionate and understands us. If we have a problem he will take the time to sit down and talk with us much like a friend.
Tell us about your competitive season so far this year?
Julia: Our first competition of the season was Skate America. We were a bit nervous about this with our new coach and new “look.” We got very good feedback regarding our progress and we were very encouraged that we had made the best move. NHK Trophy in Japan again was a very positive experience for us as a new coach/team partnership. We felt more comfortable with our changes and were beginning to respect what we had accomplished together. Returning to Ukraine for the Nationals was a very wonderful homecoming for us. We got to see our families and we were encouraged by the feedback given to us by judges and coaches alike. They felt this was a new look for us and that Rinat had brought out something new and exciting in our skating. Our placement at the Nationals gave us the opportunity to compete at the Europeans and Worlds. The Europeans proved to be both good and bad for us. We felt we had skated our personal best in the compulsories and freedance but a fall in the original dance brought us “back to earth.”
Oleg: We received a lot of positive feedback about our new style. We had many wonderful performances this season, however, at each competition we had flaws in different parts of the event. For example, either on a compulsory dance or original dance there would be a mistake so overall our results stayed the same. We are skating much better now and I’m happy with what we’ve accomplished.
Are there any particular skaters you look at for inspiration?
J: I have always admired the 2 time Russian Champions Oksana Grischuk and Evgeni Platov. Their footwork and emotion have inspired me to work harder and put as much emotional expression into my skating as I can. I am also inspired by the teams around me at the rink. Ashley Duenas / Ramil Sarkulov, the younger teams of Stephanie Segien/ Jay Lilly and Amber Bogart /Robert Cuthbertson. They encourage us, cheer for us, and remind us to work hard each day.
Oleg: I consider Evgeny Platov to be the best. I admire his ability, he can do just about anything on the ice even skate with any partner. I also like Lithuanian’s Drobiazko & Vanagas. Vanagas has amazing footwork! Another favorite is the style of the French, Anissina & Peizerat.
What are your goals for the future?
Julia: Our long-term goals are to be ranked at the top. We are a young team and we have many years to continue to improve. Our goals are set to medal in the future at the Olympics.
Oleg: Be a Champion! I’d like to be at the top which I know also means patience and hard work. I look forward towards the progress and improving over the next few years.