Violetta Sierova und Ivan Khobta
Ukraine’s Violetta Sierova and Ivan Khobta are elated by the accomplishments they’ve earned not only during the 2022-23 season but also in the current season. Last season, the duo secured a fifth-place finish at the Final, followed by a commendable ninth-place performance in their debut at the 2023 European Figure Skating Championships.
Their season reached its pinnacle when they clinched the bronze medal at the 2023 Junior World Championships in Calgary, marking the first time a Ukrainian pair has ever medaled at this prestigious event. This achievement is truly remarkable, especially considering the challenges the young team faced when they had to flee their homeland for Germany in March 2022 due to the outbreak of war.
Now the team is blazing another trail after placing second in both their Junior Grand Prix events this season in Budapest and Gdansk, qualifying yet again for the Junior Grand Prix Final.
“I really enjoyed participating at both of our Junior Grand Prix Events,” Sierova stated. “I am really happy to have qualified for the Final!”
“We were very happy to share our emotions with the audience as well as presenting both of our new programs,” added Khobta. “We hope the crowd and the people who support us enjoyed them!”
The duo’s off-season has been fraught with challenges, primarily stemming from an injury that Sierova began to grapple with back in June and which she is still in the process of recovering from.
“We are extremely happy to be competing as Violetta injured her hip in June,” said Khobta. “It became worse and her back started to hurt. It’s still very hard for her.”
Sierova openly acknowledges that she continues to experience discomfort while skating and is currently dedicating time to consult with new medical professionals for treatments and therapeutic massages.
“It is my main goal now to get healthy,” said the 16-year-old. “Once I am fully recovered, I hope we can add more difficult content to our programs!”
Depending on Sierova’s health, the pair will decide whether they will participate in a senior Challenger before heading to Beijing for the Junior Grand Prix Final.
Both skaters really enjoy their new programs for the 2023-24 season. The short program is to “If I Can Dream” by Måneskin and Walter Earl Brown, while the free skate is to “Bird Set Free” by Sia. Both routines were choreographed by Filip Zalevski with input from Hendrik Hilpert and Raffaella Cazzaniga for the short program.
“Our coach liked the short program piece for us because of the composition and we really like it as well,” shared Khobta. “We hope to be able to show our emotions and try to share our feelings with the crowd.”
“I can right now really relate to our free skate,” Sierova added. “It is about a bird who wants to sing but can’t. Right now, I really want to skate, but I am held back because of my injury.”
Like many Ukrainian skaters, the past year and a half has presented numerous challenges for this young team.
“We now train in Germany, and we would like to thank the club in Chemnitz for giving us the opportunity to skate and to live,” Sierova said. “We feel bad for our country every day. We follow the news daily and feel for our people. My dad is still in Ukraine. I haven’t seen him in over a year and that makes me very sad. My mom lives with me in Germany, but I really miss my dad. I hope this war will very soon.”
Khobta’s whole family still lives in Ukraine.
“It’s extremely hard to see what is happening to our country,” he observed. “I am in touch with them every day to know that everything is alright with them.”
Fortunately, their coach was also able to join and work with them in Chemnitz.
Reflecting on their journey, the pairs team takes pride in their remarkable accomplishments, all achieved amidst the challenging circumstances they’ve faced.
“I am just so proud for our country about what we achieved. It was really important in such a hard situation,” said Sierova of their bronze-medal win at Junior Worlds last season. “When I think back, it really motivates me, and I want to do better and better.”
They also participated in the World Championships in Saitama, Japan, and despite not qualifying for the free skate, they carry valuable memories from the event.
“It was very exciting to see all the people with the Ukranian flag who supported us, that was something very special,” recalled Khobta. “It was an experience for us, and we were very proud to be part of a senior World Championship. The whole last season was an experience, and we hope we can take a lot from these going into this season.”
Sierova, who is currently a high school student, continues her education through an online Ukrainian school, with two more years to go before graduation. In addition to her academic pursuits, she is passionately committed to learning the German language and actively participates in a German language course. Remarkably, she has already attained a B1 proficiency level in German and aspires to further her education in Germany after completing her high school diploma.
Khobta also started learning German and studies at a Ukrainian online university for physical education and sports. He is very grateful for the compromises that the school makes for him in order for him to combine his studies with his figure skating career.
Summing up their goals for their skating career, Khobta admits: “I used to have big dreams and goals, but right now, it’s hard for me to look too far into the future. I am just happy when I am able to skate!”
Sierova has more concrete dreams though: “I one day want to skate at the Olympics!”