Ivan Samodelkin and Ksenia Pozen on their Wedding Day
A second can change your life forever. Nine days after his wedding, Russian figure skater Ivan Samodelkin, 22, was doing some excavation work in the garden of his family’s summer house near St. Petersburg when he lost control over the machine, it turned against him and lacerated his right leg. “I couldn’t stop it.”, Ivan said about the horrible accident. He was taken to hospital and doctors stitched up his leg. “It was a bad injury, but I still had a chance to keep my leg,” the skater recalled. But then he developed gas gangrene. When he was taken to a hospital in St. Petersburg, it was too late to save the leg. “The gas gangrene was getting close to my hip. There was no choice, the doctors had to amputate my leg.” The leg was amputated above the knee.
Ivan with his Figure Skating friends Mikhail Kolyada, Vladimir Melnik, Elisei Ivanov and Maxim Kudriavtsev
It was a huge shock for Ivan Samodelkin, who has been a figure skater since childhood. He trained in the Figure Skating Academy in St. Petersburg and competed at the national level in events like the Russian Cup series and City Championships in singles. After trying pair skating for one year, Samodelkin retired from competing and joined the St. Petersburg Ice Ballet three years ago. “We perform classical ballets on ice, like Swan Lake, Nutcracker, Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella and Romeo and Juliet,” Ivan explained. With the ice ballet, Samodelkin performed in Russia and went on tour abroad, for example to Germany and Romania. His wife Ksenia Pozen is a performer in the ballet as well.
Ivan and his wife Ksenia perform in the ice ballet Nutcracker
In spite of the tragedy that struck, Ivan is not giving up his dream of skating and performing. “It is my dream to return on to the ice one day. I know it will take a very long time and as an athlete, I want it to happen fast, but I am now undergoing rehab and I first will get a learning prosthesis in two months and in one year I can start with a better prosthesis,” he said. A high-tech prosthesis that could enable him to skate again costs about 30,000 US Dollars.
Ivan andh is Figure Skating firends at his wedding, with Mikhail Kolyada (second from the left) and Dimitri Ialin (fourth from the left)
This is when other skaters, his friends, decided to step in. A few days ago, World bronze medalist Mikhail Kolyada and Junior World silver pairs medalist Dmitri Ialin alongside other friends started a fundraising campaign on Instagram using the hashtag #Ванямыстобой (Vania we are with you). “I consider my best friend Vania Samodelkin as part of my family. And what happened to him affects me and people close to me directly,” Kolyada wrote. “On April 30 he got married to a girl, not just a girl, but the love of his life. Nine days after the wedding, the accident happened. We all know very well that figure skating for a figure skater is the love of his whole life. Vania is now 22 years old and figure skating was his life. I ask you for financial help for a prosthesis with the best chances for rehabilitation to give Vania the chance to return to an athletic and happy life.
Mikhail, Dmitri and the others didn’t tell Ivan what they were doing and so it came as a huge surprise to him when he suddenly saw what was going on Instagram. “It was a shock. My friends told me, we are with you, we’ll help you, but I had no idea that this would happen,” he said. Other Russian skaters, those who know Ivan and those, who don’t know him personally as well as fans started to share the message and spread the news, not only on Instagram, but also on other social media and on message boards. Samodelkin is overwhelmed by the wave of support he is receiving. “I can’t even say, how many people have participated so far, but a lot are helping. It is so nice to feel all this support.”
Ivan Samodelkin performs the ice ballet Nutcracker
Fate has delivered a heavy blow to this young man, but he is dealing with it remarkably well, staying optimistic and making plans for the future. “But without my family and my friends I couldn’t manage this,” he said. If a return on to the ice as a performer is not possible after all, Ivan still wants to dedicate his life to figure skating. “In this case, I’ll turn to coaching,” he said.