Welcome to IDC’s New Team Series! For this series, we interview athletes who will enter the upcoming 2023-24 season in a new partnership, or debuted last season. In our second interview, we check in with Adrienne Carhart (21) and Oleksandr Kolosovskyi (21) who represent Azerbaijan at the senior level. New articles in this series will be posted every Monday.
Tell us about your individual skating journeys, including any early special memories.
Adrienne (AC): I started skating at 7 years old, when a friend of mine invited me to a skating lesson. From there, I continued on with my younger sister Helena and I have loved it since then.
Oleksandr (OK): I started skating when I was 7 years old as well, but in Odessa. There is only one rink in Odessa but I have a lot of great memories of that rink and learning how to skate there. I competed in singles skating a lot throughout Ukraine until I was about 15 years old. Then I moved to Kiev to start ice dancing.
What drew you to ice dance?
AC: In all honesty, I remember watching ice dance as a kid and thinking there was no way I could be an ice dancer! After growing up in a household full of women and going to an all-girls high school, the idea of skating with a boy did not appeal to me. It wasn’t until I had reconstructive hip surgery when I was 15 years old and had to take a year off the ice that I even considered ice dancing. However, after just a few weeks of trying it out I knew this was what I wanted to do. Now I love skating with a partner and I love working on all the little details that go into ice dancing. There is so much precision and thought put into every step.
OK: My mom heard there was a great ice dance coach in Kiev that had a girl looking for a partner, so she thought it would be good for me to try ice dancing. At first, I found it quite unusual to skate with another person in position, but it provided me with a new challenge which I liked. I love the technical aspects of ice dance, like turns and footwork, but I also really enjoy lifts and the acrobatics involved in partnered skating.
Tell us how your partnership started (Partner Search, training mate, etc.) Describe the tryout.
AC: Sasha and I actually knew each other before we started skating together. We both trained with Marina in 2019 with different partners and we were good friends. I ended up moving to France and Sasha was training with a new partner in Russia, so we lost touch for a few years. When we saw each other again, it was like no time had passed – our friendship picked up right where we left off.
OK: Marina called me right after my previous partnership ended. She was my coach when I was junior and we had stayed in contact, so I was happy to hear from her. She told me Adrienne was also looking for a partner, and Adrienne and I were friends for a long time. So we had a tryout and we were a great match.
What is it that you already like most about dancing with your new partner?
AC: No matter what kind of day we are having, Sasha always makes me laugh. We balance each other out so well. Sasha is very patient – he is so good at staying calm and relaxed under pressure. Training is so easy and special when you are skating with a friend.
OK: Adrienne and I are both very lucky because we have had a great friendship off the ice for so many years. I’ve never seen anyone work as hard as Adrienne! Also, she is an amazing dancer and she is very artistic. She has a great vision for each of our programs and I trust her.
What experiences do each of you bring to the partnership? (International competitions, training, etc.)
OK: I have competed internationally for many years now, so I brought a lot of experience to the partnership.
AC: Sasha was very supportive of me this season, since this was my first season competing internationally.
What has been the biggest adjustment for each of you so far in the partnership?
AC: There are the normal challenges of a new partnership, learning to skate together and getting to know the other person. Sasha and I have great communication, and we work so well together. I’ve never had a partnership where we could communicate as openly as we do.
OK: There hasn’t been a big adjustment. We are always honest with each other about what is working and what is not, and Adrienne is very kind.
Tell us about your training site. (Location, facilities, dance mates, classes, etc.)
OK: We train at the International Skating Academy in Estero, FL. Training in Florida, the weather is warm and beautiful. We do a lot of training outside in the fresh air, and I go to the beach and jump in the water after a long day of skating.
AC: I am the oldest of four girls, all of whom skate, and they all train with Marina in Florida. Getting to see them every day and share all these experiences with them is something I am extremely grateful for. My sister Helena and her partner Vova are the reigning US Junior Silver Medalists, and they are a great team to watch. We also train with Pilipino team Isabella Gamez and Alexandr Korovin, and Ukrainian team Zoe Larson and Andrei Kapran. We are so lucky to train with teams that are also our good friends.
Last season we trained with Kana Muramoto and Daisuke Takahashi before they announced their retirement this year. It was very sad for me, since Kana is one of my closest friends and the rink is not the same without them. We use Kana and Dais as our inspiration a lot.
Who are your coaches? Did either or both have to relocate? If so, tell us about the move(s).
AC: We are coached by Marina Zoueva, Ilya Tkachenko, Nora Hoffmann, Johnny Johns, and Yelena Sokolova. We also work with ballroom dancers Randi Strong, Henry Byalikov, and Maksim Kozhevnikov. Sasha and I both trained in other countries before we came back to Marina.
OK: I relocated from Austria to Florida. However, since I had already trained here before, it already felt much more like home.
Who is choreographing your programs. Is someone else arranging your music? If so, please share those experiences.
AC: Sasha and I were very excited about the 80’s theme for the RD this year. We got to work with Henry, one of our ballroom coaches, on choreography off the ice. Our coach Ilya Tkachenko then took that and helped us adapt all the dancing for the ice.
OK: Max Kozhevnikov helped us with the concept for our free dance. We loved our Egyptian program from last season, so it took us a while to find a piece of music that everyone liked for our FD. However, once Max started working with us the program really came together. Ilya is a great choreographer as well; he has been so involved in our creative process this season, and because of that our programs are coming along nicely.
If you could have a lesson with any ice dancer past/present, who would it be? Why?
AC: Mmm there are so many amazing teams…I would have to say Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier. I saw their Evita FD at worlds last season and it brought me to tears. They are so committed to the story they are telling – as soon as they step on the ice they are in character! They are both so kind and I really look up to them as athletes and as people.
OK: I would say Meryl Davis and Charlie White, because they were so innovative. They were so quick on the ice and their lifts were amazing. I have always loved and admired their skating.
What is each of you looking forward to most this skating season? What will be your biggest challenge(s)?
AC: Last season was my first competing on the international circuit, and because we were a new partnership we did not start until the end of October. I love to compete, so I am looking forward to performing a lot this season. Last season our goal was to put out solid performances every time. This season, we want to skate fearlessly and with confidence. Now is the time to put our heads down and work so we can improve over the next few years.
OK: I think we have so much potential as a team. We are tall and have long beautiful lines with a lot of speed. Of course we want to improve our results and world standing from last season, but more than that we want to solidify our skating and look as a team. It will be our second season together, so we are still learning how to move together and how to compete together.
What is your debut competition this season?
AC: Our first competition will be the Dallas Classic in July, and then we will head to Lake Placid as our first international for the season.
OK: We will do a few local competitions first before we head to our internationals.
Please share anything you would like our readers to know about you as a team?
OK: We have worked hard in the off season to improve our technique and our speed across the ice. I am very excited about our programs for this season, and I hope the judges and skating audience will enjoy them too!
AC: I owe so much to my family, to my parents for their constant love and support, and also to my sisters who I get to share this journey with. We have so much more to prove and to show – this is just the beginning for us!