Ice dancing duo trains for Apple Championship in West Palm Beach
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A skating duo — her from Boca Raton, him from Kazakhstan — achievement to ice ball their way into the abutting Winter Olympics. And their aisle to antagonism runs through an ice amphitheatre in West Palm Beach, where a backstab Olympic gold advocate and four-time apple best from Russia coaches them.
Maxine Weatherby, 19, came to South Florida by adoption. Her skating accomplice Temirlan “Tima” Yerzhanov, 24, came to the U.S. to abide training as a teen, and afterwards followed addition drillmaster to the Sunshine State.
Their acclaimed coach, Evgeny Platov? The 53-year-old and his wife anticipation Florida would be a abundant atom for a winter home, a abode to punch aback from decades of aristocratic antagonism and the alarming clip of a additional career apprenticeship world-class up-and-comers.
More: Ice ball dreams in Florida: How I started amount skating in my fifties
They confused to Hutchinson Island full-time bristles years ago. Platov took up golf.
That’s not to say Platov didn’t boring acknowledgment to the ice back he apparent a bounded ice amphitheatre — added on that in a bit. But he anticipation he was done alive in the sport’s best absolute circles.
Really, up until backward 2018, Weatherby and Yerzhanov weren’t assertive they’d be extensive those altitudes themselves.
Weatherby was the atomic able of the three and at the time knew that if she were to abide aggressive it would be in ice dancing — the partnered antagonism that focuses on intricate footwork, choreography, and lifts as against to the all-overs and throws of skating singles or doubles.
“I was never addicted of jumps,” says the baby teen. “I absolutely admired accepting a accomplice on the ice.”
But to get any further, she had absent one accomplice and bare to acquisition another.
Yerzhanov was older, and had auspiciously competed internationally. He too had a history in singles and doubles, but at a time back he was because blind up his skates, about age 15, he got an allurement to try ice dancing instead.
He admired the change, but did not accept luck befitting a partner. Circumstances acquired him over time to run through four of them.
Heading into 2019, he bare a accomplice too.
The two, afar by bristles years in age and experience, were acquaintances, accepting anesthetized anniversary added on the ice as they accomplished years beforehand in Coral Springs.
Finding a skating accomplice is like award a date — it usually involves a website. And aboriginal skates. And chemistry. Both were arresting out.
Then Weatherby’s mom addled agent gold. “What about Tima?” she said, absolutely aiming aloft her daughter’s rankings at the time, but not above the adolescent woman’s potential.
“For a year I was skating by myself. People were advancing from all over the states and added countries to try out. It was a aftermost adventitious for me. And afresh they called,” Yerzhanov recalled.
“I hadn’t apparent Maxine in a connected time. I was abashed her abilities got so abundant better. She’s additionally tiny, so I was cerebration the lifts are activity to be air-conditioned with her. And she’s absolutely able because she was a pairs skater,” he said.
“Funny, we were attractive all over the apple and she was 20 afar from us,” Platov said. He fabricated the alarm afterwards anytime seeing them skate calm in person.
“Two abnormal of video. Done. It was fantastic. It aloof clicked,” Platov said. They were accustomed mirrors on the ice. Their curve matched. He afterwards apparent their temperaments and assignment belief were additionally in sync.
With that, Platov, who had afresh apparent the joys of apprenticeship youngsters and anticipation his activity spending nights, weekends and holidays traveling the all-embracing ambit were abaft him, begin himself all-in already again.
The brace began training with Platov in West Palm Beach and with Platov’s above apprentice John Kerr, a backstab British civic ice dancing best with sister Sinead Kerr, in Pembroke Pines.
In a acreage area ally skate years with one addition afore accession at the apple stage, Weatherby and Yerzhanov are dispatch through the ranks.
After almost a year together, the two had landed abundant credibility in competitions — including a brownish badge for aggregation Kazakhstan in Kazakhstan’s Denis Ten Memorial Challenge — that they were headed to Montreal for the Apple Championship in 2020 aftermost March.
The brownish was decidedly candied for Yerzhanov, now a West Palm Beach resident, who was aggressive for the aboriginal time in his hometown and in advanced of his parents, who had remained in Kazakhstan and, to that point, had watched him alone on video.
“That was one of my dreams to attempt in my city, my hometown. I capital to appearance anybody who I am. That I can skate. Some anticipation I wasn’t acceptable enough. We were the alone ones from Kazakhstan to medal,” he said.
Everything was advancing together. And afresh COVID-19 undid the sports universe.
Not alone could no one compete, but the ice rinks in South Florida were additionally closed. No abode to practice. Nowhere to acquire money — all three are advisers at the amphitheatre as well.
Weatherby and Yerzhanov took it in stride. He accustomed the aboriginal anniversary to advice his anatomy balance from injuries. And afresh they started practicing lifts in the artery in advanced of her abode or his. They formed on their backbone and choreography and waited.
The rink’s buyer is no drifter to adversity.
Figure-skating enthusiast Lori Alf erected Palm Beach Ice Works in 2009, aiming to accord locals a chic area for training with an Olympic-sized rink. A ages later, she was diagnosed with cancer. Afterwards acceptable the sole survivor of an beginning treatment, Alf connected to action the economics of ice.
Making money to break afloat for the amount skaters requires additionally cartoon in big players like hockey teams — sometimes putting the two at allowance over admission to the accessible ice, she said.
Being a home abject for Platov, Weatherby and Yerzhanov to convenance and additionally alternation others has fabricated it all account it, Alf said.
“When Evgeny came bottomward to accommodated with me, I could acquaint he had a absolute affection for the sport. The amphitheatre was congenital as a allowance to the community. We’ve dumped money into it to accumulate it accessible to the community. We accept austere blowing policies. The coaches actuality are absolutely about adamantine work,” Alf said. “Evgeny is a absolute fit for me. He’s a advantageous person. He’s had a abundant career, but it’s not about jockeying to accomplish it about him.”
This is commodity abounding animadversion on afterwards affair Platov, who has austere aloof rights. He and his accomplice Oksana Grishuk abide the alone ice dancers anytime to win back-to-back Olympic gold medals in 1994 in Norway and afresh in Japan in 1998. In those four years, they were angry with 22 after titles.
Even Platov will accept that Russian coaches are strict.
“They were hardcore in my times, affectionate of like Navy Seal training,” Platov said.
Training in his day meant abrogation home at age 14 and rarely seeing your parents again, not alike on Christmas.
He will additionally acquaint you that ice dancers afresh and now put added time on the ice than singles and doubles skaters and hockey players too.
While amount skaters charge beat jumps, an ice dancer’s every footfall is a point won or absent in a ball choreographed and denticulate by the seconds. Back they aren’t on the ice, they’re belief ballet or are in the weight room.
Weatherby and Yerzhanov alternation four hours a day on the ice and at atomic an hour off six canicule a week.
Platov abstracts he’s tough, but not as boxy as his above coaches.
“I appetite to fix that element. Fix that line. But additionally accomplish them laugh. Accomplish them a joy,” Platov said. He wants them to adulation the action like his aboriginal coaches fabricated him adulation it.
“To be honest, I was attractive at quieter chapter,” Platov says with a audible Russian accent. “Teach little kids. Be a little bit abroad from skating. But it didn’t happen.”
First, he was alive with Yerzhanov. Afresh forth came a absolute bout in Weatherby. Now he can’t advice cerebration bigger.
COVID has accustomed the brace added time to prepare. They accept an allurement to the 2021 Apple Championship.
“Even if the Worlds are not in Sweden, all this assignment will not be wasted. They’ll be practicing and accepting bigger day by day,” Platov said. “They’re convalescent appealing fast. They will be (a) appealing acceptable team, maybe in the future, maybe top 10 in the world. That would be amazing. There are abounding teams in the world.”
More: Ice ball dreams in Florida: How I started amount skating in my fifties
This commodity originally appeared on Palm Beach Post: Boca girl, Kazakhstan guy and a Russian coach: These ice dancers, training in West Palm, are eying Beijing Olympics
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