15 questions to… Christina Carreira and Anthony Ponomarenko


photo: US Figure Skating

Christina and Anthony are American ice dance team. They are silver medalists of Junior World Championships and Junior Grand Prix Final. 2018-2019 season will be their first on the senior level.

A.K.: You are teenagers as well as top athletes who are competing at the highest level. How do you manage to handle trainings as well as Your personal life? Have You had any moments where you fell you cannot cope with the pressure?

C.C.: It can be very difficult sometimes balancing training, school, and personal life. It requires a lot of time management but I’ve never felt like I can’t handle the pressure.

A.P.: I admit it’s hard but I’ve never felt like I can’t cope with it. I try to manage my time as well as I can. Having the weekends off helps a lot. That’s when we really relax and spend time outside of skating.

A.K.: If You were not an ice dancers or even when you retire from Ice Dance, what profession would you have? Would you go into schooling?

C.C.: When I retire from skating I would like to go to law school.

A.P.: After skating I would like to go to business school.


photo: https://www.instagram.com/christinacarreira/?hl=pl

A.K.: Igor Shpilband is your coach, we know him as one of the best in this sport, but what type of coach and person is he?

C.C.: Igor is an amazing coach, I don’t think anyone else in the world is better than him at teaching skating technique. He’s very tough on the ice but, once we step off the rink he’s really caring.

A.P.: Igor is an awesome coach. His experience in the sport makes him know exactly what to say and how to convey it. He’s very tough but supportive and cares a lot.

A..K.: Let’s talk about competition day. How does Igor support you during this day? Do You have any superstitions or any pre skate rituals?

C.C.: Igor is the coach that calms me down the most at competition, he’s very reassuring. I have a lot of superstitions, but my main one is tying my right skate first.

A.P.: Igor is very relaxing before competition because he knows we are ready. He does a great job of being very supportive. Tying my left skate first is a huge superstition for me which is funny because Christina ties her right.

A.K.: When You work on a new routine elements such as lifts and transitions, how do You prepare them off ice? What safety hazards are put in place when You try them on the ice for the first time?

C.C.: We work on our lifts off ice with a lift coach from Cirque du Soleil (Canadian acrobatic circus- author’s annotation) and we try to come up with new material. Once our lifts are very solid we’ll try them off the rink with skates on and then we put them on ice.

A.P.: We repeat lifts off the ice hundreds of times before transferring it on the ice to make sure we are solid. When we first try the elements on the ice we have a coach or skater spot us to make sure nothing bad can happen.

A..K.: When You have a new routine this usually means a new song and a new story to tell. How do You connect with the mood of the song and how do You learn how to convey characters and storylines on the ice?

C.C.: Before we pick the song Igor has us improvise to it to see how we move and if we feel it. If we don’t move well to it or if we don’t look like we connect to the music we’ll keep looking until we find a piece we both connect to.

A.P.: Christina and I bring in music that we want to skate to. For the next couple weeks we will listen and move to all of the ideas until Igor finds the best suitable match. After that, we try to invent a story to tell and Igor explains how we need to express it.

A.K.: The ISU has decided that ‚Tango Romantica’ will be this season’s Rythym Dance. As we know, this type of dance is full of passion and love. How are You able to recreate these emotions on the ice at such young age?

C.C.: The tango romantica is a very difficult dance technically and emotionally, but I think as the season progresses we will be able to show more mature emotions to fit this type of dance.

A.P: We have been skating for a long time now and are very comfortable with each other, so I believe we can recreate such strong emotions. It still will be difficult, but I think as the season continues we can show it.

A.K.: Is there any piece of music that You’d like to dance to? What dance do You prefer the most?

C.C.: I would love to do a free dance to Rachmaninov, it’s a piece of music Anthony, Igor and I really love, we want to wait until we’re older and mature enough to skate to it since it’s pretty dark music.

A.P.: A Rachmaninov free dance is something I’ve always dreamt about it. I’ve also really wanted to skate a free dance to Gypsy Kings. Their music hasn’t been used in ice dance for a few years so it would be cool!

A.K.: Christina, French is you first and English is your second language. When you moved to America five years ago, you struggled with English for a while. How were you able to learn him so fast, did it come natural to you? Did you have help from Anthony and other individuals?

C.C.: I knew a little bit of English from school but not enough to carry a conversation with someone. The first year I was in Detroit was pretty hard because I originally moved there with my previous partner, but after a couple months he got injured, so I was there alone for about 8 months before I started skating with Anthony. I didn’t have my parents with me and since I didn’t speak English it was pretty hard to make friends, but after a while I got the hang of it. Anthony helped me a lot. He would help me with the pronunciations and he got me to be more comfortable in the language.

A.K.: Anthony, although you have Russian roots, you were born and raised in U.S.. Have you ever thought about representing Russia or were there any propositions from Russian federation or your parents?

A.P.: This is a very frequently asked question. Since I live in America my parents thought it would be easier for me to compete here. They also believe US figure skating would be fair and value skill over political power. I’m very happy to compete for the US, they are extremely supportive and strive for the success of every athlete. Of course I’ve thought about competing for Russia, but I’ve made the right decision to compete for the US.

A.K.: As we are the same age Christina, I cannot comprehend at the age of 13 thirteen I would be able to move to another country with only a little knowledge of the language. Do you think you missed out parts of your childhood? Have you learned a valuable life lesson moving country at an early age?

C.C.: I don’t think I missed out on my childhood. I didn’t really have to give up anything. I wanted to move to another country to train, especially if it was with the best coaches and athletes in the world. It was hard to be on my own at a young age, but I quickly adapted. I learned how to be independent and responsible.

A.K.: Anthony’s parents are legends in the sport of Ice Dance. Do you consider somewhat of an inspiration to both of you? If you have a problem do you ask them for guidance?

C.C.: They’re a huge inspiration to me. They’re one of the best the sport has ever seen. Anthony’s parents are very helpful and supportive, I feel that we can always go to them for guidance and they’ll be happy to help us.

A.P.: Having worked with my parents for the first 7 years of my skating career they have had a huge contribution to my skating. They are a huge inspiration and I hope to make it to the level they were at. This summer we worked a lot with my mom. She helped us with the transition to senior.

A.K.: Your fan are able to help you by donating funds to your GoFundMe page. How difficult is it to find sponsors and do you receive support from your federation?

C.C.: It’s very difficult to find sponsors, USFSA gives us funds but skating is very expensive, we’re so grateful that our supporters help us by donating.

A.P.: Skating is one of the most expensive sports. I am grateful for any type of support we receive and every bit counts. Our federation gives us funds seasonally and help as much as they can.

A.K.: I think that we all wonder what skaters usually do with all plush toys which fly all over the ice after performance. Do you have seperate rooms for them?

C.C.: Haha! No we don’t have a separate room for them (at least not me, I’m sure Yuzuru* does) I keep all the notes and presents I get and I try to pack as much plush toys.

A.P.: Over the years I’ve kept all the notes and small gifts. The plush toys are harder because of the size so I choose my favorites and donate the rest.

A.K.: Last question. You have known eachother for quite a few years now. Do you consider each other best friends? If so what do you value most about your partner?

C.C.: Yes, we have a great relationship and since we both don’t have our families around us we consider each other family. What I value most about Anthony is his personality. He’s one of the most entertaining people I know and also extremely kind and caring.

A.P.: Christina and I have a great relationship. She is not only my best friend but one of the most important people in my life. I can’t imagine my life without her in it. I think our partnership works so well because she is very easygoing and positive. I can never get bored with her because she always brings something new and exciting to the friendship. I value her perseverance and competitiveness.

*Yuzuru Hanyu is a japanese male figure skater, his fans gave him a lot of Winnie the pooh mascots after every performence.


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