Golden Skate

Dinev Increases Skating’s Popularity in Bulgaria

Ivan Dinev performs his Technical Program at the 2003 European Figure Skating Championships.

Ivan Dinev has been Bulgaria’s most well known skater for the last decade. He is the first Bulgarian to land a quad in competition and the first to win a Grand Prix medal at Trophee Lalique in 1999. Ice dancers Albena Denkova and Maxim Staviski credit Dinev with making skating a respectable sport in Bulgaria. Dinev has finished 11th and 13th at the 1998 and 2002 Olympics respectively. He placed sixth at the 2002-03 Grand Prix Final and 14th at this year’s worlds.

He began skating when he was four. “I had asthma when I was young and my mother thought if I would do winter sports it would help me,” he said. “My sister skated with me for a few years.” Jumping is his favorite part of skating, and he was a quick learner. He landed his first triples, the salchow and the toe loop, when he was twelve and his first quad when he was 20. His first official quad was at the World Championships in Helsinki in 1999, where he finished 14th. Dinev is currently landing both the quad toe loop and the quad salchow, but is only using the quad toe in his long program this season with a quad toe/triple toe combination in both programs. Next season, he plans to use two quads in the long.

The 7-time Bulgarian champion now trains in Lake Arrowhead, California with coach Rafael Arutunian. He began training there last July. He skates three 45 minute on ice sessions six days a week and goes to gym and fitness classes at least three times a week. “It’s a very nice place to train,” he said. “The city is nice and I like the mountains. We live in a very flat area in Bulgaria, so I like to see something different from the rink.”

Dinev had a stress fracture in his ankle that limited his training time for five months, causing him to miss the Grand Prix season. “I went three months with no skating and only in the two months before Europeans was I skating well,” he said. “The ankle is still hurting.” His first international was the European Championships in Sweden, where he finished 16th. “My goal for this season is just to make my programs look good,” he said. “I’ll finish the season and then start working towards next season. You can’t miss Europeans and Worlds or people forget you.”

Dinev was also injured for the Olympics. “The first half of the season was perfect,” he said. “Then my back was sore for Europeans and then I hurt my ankle. I went to Salt Lake and skated and went home. “I only saw short track, but our girls got two medals so that was exciting.”

He is using “Bolero” by Frederico and Francesco Monteriori for his short program and “Kismet” performed by Bond for the long. Nikolai Morozov choreographed both programs. “He helped me find the music for this year,” Dinev stated. “He said that it looked like music for me. I don’t always skate to the same kind of music. I like French music and I like classical music, but too many skaters use the classic Bolero. If I like the music, I’ll try it.” Off ice, he listens to all kinds of pop music.

Dinev was just married last year. He met his wife, a former gymnast, in school, and they married after the Olympics. The couple has a young son, also named Ivan. “My favorite thing now is to play with my baby,” Dinev said. “I have many toys from the fans and I give them to my son. Sometimes we go out to the movies or visit our friends. I like comedy movies where you don’t have to think too much. I like to play soccer and go skiing – dangerous sports.” He likes to visit other countries. “We try to go someplace different each year for holiday, someplace warm,” he said. “I always go on the tours at the competitions if I have time.” His favorite trip was to Australia for Junior Worlds. He hopes to see Africa in the future. Dinev uses his computer for email and checking the Internet for skating news.

Dinev plans to compete until the 2006 Olympics. “Then we’ll see,” he said. “What I will do after skating is a big question. I’d like to do some choreography and maybe coach a little bit.”