Romance and Mystery Novels

by Alina Adams

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Monday, December 13, 2004


Trial by Ice

Article by Yoram Shpipkin in Global on-line publication
December 13, 2004

The advantages of a new system of computation of the marks, recently introduced by the International Figure Skating Federation, has been felt by the pair of Galit Chait and Sergey Sakhanovsky.

After their second place at the "Skate America" competition that took place last October in Pittsburgh, the Israeli couple earned bronze at the "Skate Canada" event in Halifax. Galit even jumped when she saw technical marks that were higher than the ones they received for the "silver" skating in Pittsburgh. Galit Chait thinks that the new system is more objective: "We know what we need to do. If we would follow the rules, we will get the high marks. Otherwise we will not get any marks. Skaiting by the new system means that one can move forward not because someone leaves, but based exclusively on someone's abilities."

The International Federation decided to change the computation of marks after many years of arguing, which culminated in a scandal at 2002 Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City, when a Canadian pair initially lost and later shared the Gold Medals with the Russian skaters.

Presently Chait and Sakhanovsky are training in Simsbury, Connecticut with a Russian coach, Tatiana Tarasova.

In Halifax, they successfully performed the free program, and because of that success, they moved up from fourth place to the third one, earning a score of 200.97, while the best score that they got in Pittsburgh (204.32) was not enough to pass the French pair.

Galit and Sergey are both 29 years old and they have skated together since 1994. Ms. Chait was born in Israel, and raised and educated in the US. She started figure skating when she was 9, falling in love with this sport when her parents took her to a rink in New York. Skating initially as a single, she met a famous coach, Ms. Natalia Dubova. It happened during a trip to Russia, where her father had opened a training center for figure skaters. Ms. Dubova suggested that Galit would try out ice dancing. This way, Galit began her training with the Russian figure skater Maxim Sevostjanov, with whom she participated in the US Championship in 1994. "We skated for the US and in our first season we were in sixth place. But Sevostjanov did not want to continue, while I wanted to participate in the next two Olympics (1998 and 2002). I had to make a decision." Galit went back to Israel and at the Canadian center in Metulla she met Mr. Sakhanovsky.

She remembers: "We prepared for our first World Championship in three months. Unfortunately, when we passed all of the qualifications in Birmingham, we learned that we could not compete, because Sergey in that year was skating for Russia at the European Championship and the rules forbid anyone to skate for two different countries in the same year".

To forget their disappointment, the pair started a period of prolonged and heavy training. By 1998 they were 14th at the Olympics and the World Championships, and twelfth at the European Championship. Continuation of this progress was fifth place at the 2000 World Championship. They become the first Israeli figure skaters to win bronze medals at the 2002 World Championship. In the same year, they were sixth at the Olympics.

Mr. Sakhanovsky emigrated from Moscow to Israel just a month before he met Galit.
He tells his story: "I was an ice dancer in Russia, and I represented Russia when I won the World Junior Skating Competition in 1993. But my partner - Ekaterina Sivirina, did not want to go to Israel with me. The time of my departure was not the best time for Russian Jews, but I think that my parents and grandparents were living in much worse conditions".

Sergey admits that he came to Israel without intending to continue to figure skate, but when he was asked to try out with Galit, he tried out and now he skatess with her for the last 10 years. They plan to skate at least till the 2006 Olympics and by that time they hope to win gold medals at the series of Grand Prix competitions and at the World Championships.

Boris Khait, the father of Galit and the president of the Israel Federation of Figure Skating, answering the question of why the Israeli pair is training in Connecticut was extremely honest: "If one wants to achieve anything, you need coaches. You can see that the Canadians are being trained in France. The figure skaters are going where there are other figure skaters and good coaches. We do not have good coaches or figure skaters of high qualification. There are only 25 (eligible) skaters in all of Israel".

Boris Khait mentioned that the rink in Metulla is overloaded with amateur skaters among other things. "A part of our problem is that we are told that the rink should make money. Government does not support figure skating and that is why we do not have sufficient resources to support this sport."

While skating for Israel, Sergey and Galit practically do not feel any pressure. "Nobody whistles at us, and we never felt negative reaction to our skating due to the Middle East conflict. We represent our country. And it is our honor."

To win free copies of "Murder on Ice: A Figure Skating Mystery" and "On Thin Ice: A Figure Skating Mystery," please visit !

Translation by Genrikh Sivorinovsky


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