The dance couple Slaviana Tsenova and Egor Zaitsev, which will skate for Bulgaria at the Junior Worlds in Sofia, is the focus of big expectations. In the years to come – at least such is the opinion and the aspiration of their coach Oksana Potdykova – a famous two-time World Junior medalist (silver in 1997 and bronze in 1998) in Ice Dance, competing for Russia with Denis Petukhov.
Slaviana and Egor has been a couple for just two years, but they made their debut at the Junior Grand Prix series and the World Junior Figure Skating Championships as early as after their first season together. The last season was much more successful. They collected marvelous points, sufficient not only for the event here in Sofia, but also for the senior European Championships.
For her the success at this stage is not in standings and qualifications (ISU JGP Baltic Cup 20, ISU JGP Minsk 15. J and Ice Star 2013 Minsk 10.J). “The greatest result is that they already skate in a completely different manner. As a coach I realize how far this couple has reached for such a short time. And I know that years and years are needed to climb upward with patience and good will. Nobody becomes a champion in one year. We have to go a long way step by step and then we shall see”, Oksana adds.
“In the beginning they had to work very, very hard and they took these points with great difficulty. Now they are more confident, they feel the atmosphere of the big stage. They failed only one element at the first JGP participation this season, but little by little they calmed down and finished the third competition without mistake. If all goes well, we’ll try for the Europeans the next year”, Oksana Potdykova says.
She had the same hopes for Slaviana and her former partner Kaloyan Georgiev. Unfortunately, after 3-4 years of hard work and Novice’s nice results, the boy went away. He made his choice in favor of school and studying more seriously. The coach was extremely upset. Oksana loved so much her “child” that she even refused to think about an eventual new partner of Slaviana.
However, it’s the girl’s family who took care of this by placing an announcement in Internet. French boy appears as first candidate, but the option to live and skate in Bulgaria is totally unacceptable for him. As it’s not easier for any 15-year old young man. Oksana knows how difficult it is from her own experience. She remembers the 5 years when at the same age Denis Petukhov lived in her home. And now, already a mother, the coach is not sure whether she would accept the same for her own son Georgi.
But Egor Zaitsev’s mother readily takes this risk. On her part, the Bulgarian Mother-Courage gives shelter to the teenager from Ekaterinbourg with all the care and responsibility. “There are few parents to put immediately their trust in the coach and I appreciated this. Probably they judged my capacity to create a successful couple by the quality of Slaviana’s skating. So Egor’s mother decided to let her son go away and compete for Bulgaria. Maybe she is the only one from my skaters’ parents who does not create any problems. On the contrary – every time we get her support and understanding”, Potdykova says.
Egor, himself, was firmly ready for everything, knowing very well he was restarting from zero. The Russian boy was motivated to work hard, to endure the absence of his family and friends, to make a team with his partner step by step, to adapt to the new life. And it’s not easy for both of them.
At the end of 2013 for reasons of health Egor missed two months of practice, coming back on 11 of January. But this is not the only reason for Oksana Potdykova to be not at the top of her expectations on the eve of the World Junior in Sofia. “I don’t want to force things. Surely, the ISU event in Bulgaria, with the best young skaters from all over the world, is a great chance. But I wouldn’t put them under pressure and then say “good-bye” to each other. The most important for me is not this one season or one start, but their future”, the coach said, thus expressing her visionary ideas.
After the historical triumph of Albena Denkova and Maxim Staviski in the Ice Dance for Bulgaria we haven’t ceased to expect a new miracle. Oksana Potdykova is the coach working mostly in this direction. Coming in Bulgaria for a year initially with the desire to try a new life, she meets here her first and greatest love – the hockey on ice national player Martin Milanov – “my other half”, says Oksana. Then she falls in love with his country, too. “I am sure it will be forever”, insists the young woman and walks towards the ice rink for the next practice.