Amanda Evora and Mark Ladwig (USA) 2012 ©Matthew Stockman/Getty Images
One of the worst things that can happen to a figure skater is that his skating boot breaks in the middle of a competitive performance. That’s what happened to U.S. pair skater Mark Ladwig at the ISU Four Continents Figure Skating Championships 2011 when the heel of his skating boot came off during the short program. Mark had three minutes to repair the boot and continue the program or he and his partner Amanda Evora would have to withdraw from the competition. Three minutes is not much time. But the pair skater was lucky, as his friend and fellow pair skater Rudi Swiegers of Canada came to his rescue. Rudi, who already had skated in the first warm up group with his partner Paige Lawrence, was up in the stands watching and didn’t hesitate for a second.
Paige Lawrence and Rudi Swiegers (CAN) 2014 ©Clive Mason/Getty Images
“When we saw Mark standing on the ice and the camera zoomed in on his boot I saw that the heel was broken off. I knew the only thing I could do to help out my friend was to take my skate and offer and see if he could need it,” Rudi said at the time. “I just figured out he would do it for me, so I ran down my skate as fast as I could and offered him to skate with it. We trained with Mark and Amanda before, so I’m aware that we have the same sized boot,” he added. The Canadian lent his boot to Ladwig, who was able to continue the performance.
Figure skating is widely perceived as an individual sport where it’s every man for himself. However, in reality, the figure skaters are a tightly knit community and in spite of rivalry on the ice, they form deep friendships that sometimes last a lifetime.
U.S. skaters Mirai Nagasu and Adam Rippon have been friends for a long time, helping each other to overcome many challenges in their career. A true highlight for them was to compete together at the Olympic Winter Games 2018 in PyeongChang in February where they took the bronze medal in the team event. “My friend Mirai and I four years ago, we got In-N-Out, we went back to her house, we climbed up to the roof of her house, and we were eating In-N-Out because we were so upset that we weren’t at the Olympic Games,” Adam recalled in Korea. “The Olympics are truly magical, because we came out here tonight, and — we’re roommates here, staying at the Olympic Village — we gave each other a hug, and I said, ‘You know, Mirai, we’re here! We did it!,'” he added. “My friendship with Adam Rippon is really important to me because he’s given me the ability to laugh at myself. Sometimes that’s the best medicine — to just laugh things off,” Mirai said in a recent interview for TODAY Style.
Serafima Sakhanovich and Evgenia Medvedeva (RUS)
Russia’s Evgenia Medvedeva and Serafima Sakhanovich were almost inseparable when competing at the junior level and Serafima even at one point moved from St. Petersburg to Moscow to train in the same group with Evgenia. Their paths separated when Evgenia moved up to the senior level and won two back to back World titles in 2016 and 2017 while Serafima struggled with consistency and injuries. When Sakhanovich in January this year was unsure whether she should continue or retire, her friendship to Evgenia helped to stay in the sport. “I got in touch with Zhenia again and she really motivated me,” Serafima said.
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Back in the 90s, two boys started out as figure skaters in the Czech town of Brno – first Ondrej Hotarek and then a few years later Michal Brezina. They became best friends which they are until today, even though Ondrej later moved to Italy and has been representing Italy in pair skating while Michal first went to Germany and then to the USA for training. Obviously, when Ondrej married Italian ice dancer Anna Cappellini in summer 2015, Michal was his best man and Ondrej returned the favor at Michal’s wedding with former figure skater Danielle Montalbano two years later. They support each other at competitions and in practice.
Skaters love to post photos of them and their friends on Instagram. They have fun together, they go on vacation together and then they work hard together and compete against each other. Their friendship overcomes barriers of all kind. At the ISU Four Continents Figure Skating Championships 2017, South Korean skater Jinseo Kim approached pair skaters Tae Ok Ryom/Ju Sik Kim of the Peoples Democratic Republic of Korea at the closing banquet and took photos and talked to them in spite the two countries being separated and hostile for decades.
Tae Ok Ryom, Jinseo Kim and Ju Sik Kim 2016