Monday, January 11, 2010

Breakthrough season for Makarova

Talk about excellent timing. Ksenia Makarova has had a breakthrough this season when she made the Olympic team after being crowned the new Russian Ladies' Champion. The 17-year-old, who placed 5th last year at Russian Junior Nationals, has also been named to the Russian team for the European Championships in Tallinn, Estonia next week. Her plans are to do well again at this first international senior-level competition of her career.

"I've had a great season so far," summed up Makarova. She medalled in both her Junior Grand Prix events, and qualified for the Final where she finished fourth.

The tall skater's win at her senior Russian Nationals debut took her by surprise. "It was very unexpected, actually," said Makarova. "I came here just to skate two clean programs, and I won! I actually couldn't believe it. I still can't believe that I got first. It will take some time. I wanted a medal because every time I got a medal, we post it up in our house. We have a whole like mantel of medals."

Some of those medals belong to her parents Larisa Selezneva and Oleg Makarov, as well. They were a prominent pairs team who competed in the 1980s for the Soviet Union, and have an Olympic bronze medal (from 1984) and two European golds (1987 and 1989). They married and moved to the United States eight years ago to start a skating school.

Makarova was six years old when she took her first steps on the ice in St. Petersburg. "I stepped on the ice and I fell," the teenager recalled. "It was really cold and my butt started to hurt, so I told my parents that I don't like it."

Two years later, Makarova moved to the U.S. and tried skating again at the school her parents started. "I looked at all the girls and I tried what they were doing and I started liking it," she said, laughing. "It was kind of unexpected. I like when I can pretty and can express myself on the ice... kind of like in dancing. I like the wind when you are skating."

Makarova progressed quickly. She finished 7th at U.S. Novice Nationals in 2007, and international competitions were within reach. However, two years ago, she and her family had to make an important decision – which country should she represent in competition? Russia (her country of birth) or the U.S. (her new home country)?

Full article.

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