When Galit Chait and Sergey Sakhovsky’s won the bronze medal at the 2002 World Championships in Nagano, Japan, it was the first medal at Worlds for Israel. Alexandra (Sasha) and Roman Zaretsky, now just 14 and 19, hope to continue that tradition in the future. The talented juniors finished 19th at the 2002 World Junior Figure Skating Championships, their first major international. Off to a good start this season, they won the bronze at both the JPG events they competed in (Belgrade Sparrow in Yugoslavia and Pokal der Blauen Schwerter in Germany).
The dancers have high aspirations. “I want to get to the Olympics, and get the best place that I can.” Sasha stated. “I like the competitions. For this year, we want to do my best in all the competitions, and get the best places that we can, and show everybody what we can do.” Roman’s goals are simple: “To skate the best and be the best. For me, skating is my life.”
Sasha started skating when she was six and Roman when he was four. Sasha said, “I was doing rhythmic gymnastics, but then my parents read about a new ice rink with Olympic size, and we moved. Figure skating was the only sport that I liked that I could do.” Roman added, “My mom was a figure skater when she was young. She didn’t compete and didn’t win any competitions, so she took me to the ice rink, with a thought that maybe I will achieve something. The youngsters did well as freestylers. In 1992, Roman was the Israeli champion for Boys 8-10 and in 1995 he won the silver for Boys 10-12. In 1995, Sasha won the silver medal in the Israeli National Championships for Girls 6-8.
“When I was eleven years old and I didn’t win the Israeli national championship for my age, my freestyle coach said that I should finish skating,” Roman stated. “I always wanted to dance. I didn’t like to jump, so I went to do ice dancing.” Sasha said, “At the rink that he was skating, there wasn’t a girl that did dance, so my parents tried me with him, and they liked it. And since then we are together. I think that dance is the nicest kind of all the figure skating.” Since they became ice dancers, they were the Israeli ice dance novice champions from 1996-1999 and have been the junior Israeli ice dance champions from 2000-2002.
The Zaretskys train in Wilmington, Delaware with former Ukrainian ice dance champions Irina Romanova and Igor Yaroshenko. They train for about 5-6 hours on ice every day as well as two hours off ice. Off ice, they have ballet and conditioning classes as well as ballroom dance instruction. Roman has been doing ballet since he was five, while Sasha started when she was eleven.
Romanova choreographs the dancers’ programs and usually chooses their music, with input from others on the team. For their original dance this season, the Zaretskys are using a waltz and a gallop. The waltz is “Les Patineurs Valse” (skaters waltz) and the gallop is “Petersburg Sleigh Ride”. For the free dance, they are using music from the soundtrack of “Moulin Rouge”. “We felt that this music is what we need for this season,” Sasha said. “We like to skate to all kinds of music,” Roman continued. “The most important thing is that the music will be interesting, and that we will understand it.” Off ice, they listen to all kinds of music, with no particular favorites.
When they are not skating, Sasha said she likes “to go to movies with friends, go to the mall, listen to music, and talk to friends. I like to read scary and funny books. I like funny, comedy movies.” Both skaters listed “Men in Black,” “Austin Powers,” and “Moulin Rouge” among their favorite movies. Roman said, “Figure skating is hard work that we really love, but sometimes you are getting tired from the things you love the most, so when we are not skating or not practicing, every thing that I do is kind of fun. I like to play soccer and I like to do any sport that includes some kind of activity. “I read books about history, but I like to read a lot so I read any book that I see.” Roman is also interested in aviation. The siblings have a dog named Mishka.
The Zaretskys haven’t decided on permanent careers although both would like to remain involved in skating. Roman has graduated from high school and is considering where to go next, while Sasha is home schooled.
For holidays, the siblings usually go home to Israel, but they have seen many countries while at competitions. My favorite places were Rome, Italy and Brno, Czech Republic,” Roman said. Sasha liked England, Norway, Czech Republic, Italy, and Bulgaria. Roman would like to go to Hawaii while Sasha wants to see Australia and Spain.