by Anne Calder
The skating Carharts include siblings Adrienne (21), Helena (18), Veronica (13) and Marian (10).
Adrienne, Helena and Marian are competitive ice dancers. Adrienne and partner, Oleksandr Kolosovskyi represent Azerbaijan internationally. Helena and partner Volodymyr Horovyi are 2023 U.S .Junior silver medalists and Junior Grand Prix Series competitors. Marion and partner Denis Bledsoe are the reigning U.S. Juvenile gold medalists.
Veronica competes in women singles on the intermediate level and qualified last season for the U.S. Final.
The sisters began their skating journeys in New York City and now train at the International Skating Academy in Estero, Florida with World and Olympic coach Marina Zoueva.
They reflected with mixed emotions on their skating experiences while living and training in Manhattan.
“As much as I love and miss New York, it was tough to make skating and school work in the City environment,” Adrienne began.
“Helena and I would wake up at 4 a.m. My mom had everything ready for the day including our packed breakfast and school clothes. She drove us 30 minutes to the Chelsea Piers rink where we skated from 5 to 7:30 a.m. Afterwards, she drove 45 minutes uptown for us to attended Sacred Heart School. Our classes began at 9 a.m. and mom picked us up at 2 p.m. so we could skate again.
“She drove us out to Hackensack, NJ, where we skated from 3:30 to 7 p.m. On the drive home we’d do our homework in the car. Our mom worked non-stop to make it happen. It was just really difficult to make all the pieces fit. Life in Florida has been much more rewarding for us.”
As a toddler, Veronica often rode along with her sisters. On one such trip, she made an announcement.
“I was two and a half years old. I don’t remember much, but my family had just adopted me from China. I spoke very little English. My mom would drive Adrienne and Helena to skate every day. I loved going everywhere with my mom, so she took me with them. She held me while we watched them skate. I loved seeing them glide across the ice – they looked so happy and beautiful. I turned to my mom and said, ‘Mommy, me skate too!”
Veronica has fond memories of those drives to New Jersey when she was older and skating.
“Mom would pick us up from school and drive us to Hackensack. We would talk about our day and sing along to music. After skating we would then all go home together. It’s one of my favorite memories with my sisters. It was a memory I missed when we moved to Florida.”
Marian remembers rising early in the morning and attending Sacred Heart School. She and Veronica followed the same schedule as Adrienne and Helena.
“Sometimes I’d go skate [at Chelsea Piers] and then school, but sometimes I’d just go to school. Then we’d skate until 7 p.m. in Hackensack. I was six and a half when we moved to Florida.”
Adrienne was the first to leave the family nest. When she was 15 she had reconstructive hip surgery. The next year she moved alone to Canton, Michigan to train with Marina Zoueva. She soon began collecting solo dance medals. In 2018, she was the U.S. National Solo Dance silver pattern and novice combined champion.
The following year when Zoueva moved her Academy to Florida, Adrienne tagged along and continued her solo dancing. A few months later, 13-year-old Helena, who also had an injury that had ended her singles skating, joined her sister at the Estero site. After only three months, Helena partnered with Volodymyr Horovyi and began training in novice ice dance.
In January 2020, the rest of the family moved to Florida.
The two youngest siblings were skating singles. Veronica recalls that because there was no jump coach with the Academy it was difficult at first.
“Our mom would drive Marian and me two hours to Panthers [Ice Den in Coral Springs, FL] Tuesday through Friday every week. It was hard to be separated from Adrienne and Helena. I also know how exhausting it was for my mom. In some ways it was a lot of fun, because Marian and I got to have wonderful time with our mom. Once Coach Igor [Krocavec] moved to Naples to work with Marina, I grew to love Florida and being back all together again with my sisters.”
Marian had mixed feelings about the relocation.
“It was a little stressful to leave all my friends and the school, coaches and other skaters, but my sisters had moved before Veronica and me. They were very supportive. I was upset, but they really helped me.”
The Carharts are a very close-knit family. They are great at communicating with each other. Adrienne explained that it’s an important skill they’ve also taken into their partnerships.
“While they are wonderful, partnerships can also be challenging. We’re under high stress situations that can be difficult. We are all lucky. We skate with partners who have been there for us. The key is communication.
“Sasha, Vova and Denis are part of the family. They’re like the brothers we never knew we needed, but we do need now. It’s probably the most challenging part of the sport, but also the most fulfilling and rewarding.”
“Having a skating partner, I grew alongside him and became better because of it,” Helena added.
“I think of my partner, Denis like an older brother,” Marian said. “It’s great having someone to talk to all the time and having a boy’s perspective.”
“Sometime there’s too much girl energy in the house; it’s good to have it balanced out,” Adrienne said with a laugh.
Veronica doesn’t have a partner, but shared her perspective on support and communication.
“Sometimes I am sad that my sisters are all ice dancers. I’m the only adopted one in my family; I’m the only single skater. Sometimes I feel like the odd one out, but when I’m on the ice with my sisters, I feel so connected to them and my family.
“When I practice my programs, my sisters cheer as I skate. I will look out of the corner of my eye and see Adrienne smiling and clapping for me. I can’t help but laugh and smile through the rest of the program.
“On the flip side, whenever my sisters skate, I always want them to skate great. I know where their twizzles are. Every time they skate I watch and pray they don’t mess them up! Having my sisters there makes the run-throughs so much fun.”
The sisters have great admiration for one another and shared the many reasons.
Helena began. “I’ll start with Adrienne, who is the one who got me into ice dance. I admire her presentation, the way she skates to the music and her facial expressions. When I started ice dancing I was very stiff. I didn’t really feel comfortable dancing and getting into the music, so I watched Adrienne who has incredible musicality.
“I love how Marian is open to performing. She will get your attention no matter what she does. Veronica is so athletic. Her jumps are amazing. She’s so good at bringing me back to being less emotional about things. She’s very logical.”
Adrienne added, “Veronica is the girl I go to for words of wisdom when I’m unsure about what to do. She’s 13, but so wise. She has a heart of pure gold and kindness. She’s so tough on the ice – so fearless. Marian has this lightness, joy and positivity with everything she does. She’s always happy. She approaches everything with such confidence that she inspires me to be more self-assured and happier.
“Helena, you’re the hardest worker, most dedicated skater, athlete, person. You’re the first person at the rink, the last to leave. You push through obstacles I wouldn’t know what to do. I really admire you and wish to be more like you. You really inspire me deeply and make me a better person.”
“Veronica and I hang out a lot together,” Marian said. “She is so supportive to me. If I have a bad day, I’ll ask her to help me figure out what to do. If I’m wrong, she might say I should come at the situation differently, but always says it in a good way. She gives me good advice.
“I really look up to Helena,” she continued. “She works so hard for Veronica and me. She drives us to the rink, cooks for us, and is just amazing. I love Adrienne because she’s so loving to me. When I’m sad, she is always there.”
Veronica added several reasons why she respects her siblings beginning with her younger sister.
“I admire Marian’s pizzazz, creativity, and intensity when she skates. She is so artistic. To me, Marian is the embodiment of ice dancing. She also helps me have fun and let loose. She hugs me whenever I am down. We do everything together: we skate together, go to school together, play together, go to bed and wake up together. She gives me so much love, and she is my best friend.
“Helena has the best work ethic. She pushes so hard and reminds me I can work harder and do more. More than that, I can always talk to Helena about what is bothering me. She can get me out of any mood and make me laugh and smile.
“Adrienne has the deepest love for skating. She has had so many ups and downs in the sport, but no matter what she keeps going with passion. She is also really good at opening up about her feelings. I struggle to open up about my emotions, and someday I want to be as open as she is about her feelings.
I also love that Adrienne makes my costumes and cuts my music. One of my favorite dresses is the one she made for my Intermediate Free Skate this year. I am skating to the Butterfly Lover’s Violin Concerto, so Adrienne made me a dress that looks like a butterfly. Last year, I skated to My Fair Lady, and she made me the most beautiful lace dress. It sparkled like champagne. She always makes me feel so beautiful on the ice.”
Skating has greatly influenced all their lives.
“Skating has taught me to be strong. When you go through things, you learn to deal with it,” Marian noted. “Also when you have a family to support you, it makes it easier. It’s also taught me love because I love skating.”
Helena added, “It’s taught me a lot about discipline and about love – but a different kind of love because I’ve learned to be so passionate about skating. It’s not only a job, it’s indescribable. I just get this amazing feeling when I do it. I feel fulfilled. I tried every sport, and I quit all of them. The fact that I didn’t quit skating years ago means I knew it was right for me. Even though there were times that I didn’t like it, I’ve grown as a person through it.”
“I think the big lesson skating has taught me is to persevere through struggles and to keep a perspective,” said Adrienne. “This is a very tough sport and every skater has a story of struggle and self doubt. It’s really easy to stop, to quit or to self sabotage because you feel like you’re not succeeding. I look back on my skating career, and there have been a lot of moments where I wondered should I continue.
“There were so many years when I was in Solo Dance, and I loved it, but I remember thinking I wanted a partner. Dallas 2021 was my last Solo Dance competition and while I love skating with Sasha, I do miss Solo Dance. Having a family that has encouraged me to do what I love, and also to persevere through difficult things, has made me a stronger person.”
“My sisters have always been such a big part of my love for skating,” Veronica added. “One of my other early skating memories was in Lake Placid! My sisters and I went there every summer for a few weeks of camp. Marian had just been born, so it was one of the first times all four of us were together.
“There would always be a show in the 1980 rink, so my coaches made a little program for me. I was skating to “Rockin’ Robin” by Michael Jackson. I was only three and a half years old, and the spotlights scared me, so Adrienne took my hand and skated the whole program with me!”
As Veronica previously mentioned, Adrienne is an amazing seamstress and uses her talents to design and sew the Carhart skating costumes.
“I’ve been sewing since I was seven or eight. When I was 15 and had my reconstructive hip surgery, I had to take a year off the ice. During that time I realized I wanted to stay involved in the sport while not being able to skate, so I started making skating dresses. It’s developed into designing and making all of our costumes.
“For me, I love that part of the process. It’s a favorite part because I get to collaborate with the girls and understand the stories behind their programs and the vision they want to express. It’s great quality time that we spend together. It’s also a way we can connect through the sport, but not directly on the ice.
“It’s really special for me. They give me artistic license as does Marina and I’m very grateful. I’ll give you an example.”
Adrienne then shed more light on Veronica’s story about her butterfly costume.
“Marina and I each had ideas for the costume, so I sat Veronica down and asked for her thoughts. She wanted a dress where she looked like a butterfly. We went shopping and found fabric that looked just like a butterfly’s wings. That was exactly what she wanted. She was the one who came up with the whole idea. It’s one of my favorite dresses I’ve made.“
Helena noted that they really don’t have to inject their thoughts on the costume because she knows them so well.
“She knows what colors and shapes look good on us. She’s not just someone we hired to do the dresses.”
“I really love it when Adrienne makes my costumes,” added Marian. “Sometimes when I have an idea, if we just hired someone to do it, I wouldn’t be able to add my input. When Adrianne makes them, I can tell her what I think, and it’s great. She’s my sister, so it kind of bonds the relationship.”
Support / Guidance
“I think we’re really lucky to have such a wonderful family and all this love and support.” – Marian Carhart
“The one thing I would attribute to all this love is our parents. They support us in so many ways. They are so selfless. They’ve moved everywhere for us. They let me move away from home at age 16 to achieve this crazy dream, and they’ve supported all of us in so many different ways. They’ve instilled in us the value of loving your sisters and being a family, of being kind, so we owe a lot of thanks to them.” – Adrienne Carhart