Wolfkostin & Tsarevski focus on Nationals debut
by Anne Calder
IDC corresponded with Katarina Wolfkostin & Dimitry Tsarevski as the team prepared for its 2024 U.S. National Championship debut in Columbus, Ohio.
Tell me about your earliest skating memories.
Katarina (KW): My dad played hockey, and we used to race around the ice, chasing each other. I also remember one winter we built an ice rink in the backyard with little lights all around it. I started group lessons when I was about 5, then freestyle, although my first coaches were ice dancers. I started skating with a partner when I was 9. It was a lot of fun practicing and laughing while working on hard things, in a different way, with someone else.
Dimitry (DT): My parents signed me up for a local hockey program in my home town in Colorado when I was 5. Then my sisters began figure skating, and a few years later I joined them and began figure skating also. I started ice dancing when I was 13.
Why did you choose ice dance?
KW: I chose ice dance because I enjoy skating with a partner and I love the dance aspect, being able to practice both the technical side and the presentation and performance side in skating.
DT: Ice dancing appealed to me because I always liked performing but did not like jumping.
What is it about ice dancing that you enjoy most?
KW: My favorite part of ice dancing has always been the performance and storytelling. I love being able to dance and express myself in programs. And skating with a partner allows for so many more things you can create.
DT: I enjoy creating the programs and performing, exhibiting what has been created.
You formed a new partnership in May 2023. How did that come about?
KW: I met some really wonderful people who came in from other states and countries for tryouts. Then Dimitry reached out asking if I’d be interested in a tryout. I already knew of his skating and I knew he was really talented, so I said yes. He came to Michigan, we skated together, and it was a very good match.
DT: When I was younger, I saw Katarina skating, and I thought she would be a great partner. That was years ago, and she already had a partner at the time so she was not available. Now years later I heard she was looking for a partner, and that’s when I wrote to her. We tried out, and we were a good match. I moved to Michigan and the rest is history.
You quickly won several national events including the Ice Dance Final. To what do you attribute your immediate success as a team?
KW: Our coaches at Michigan Ice Dance Academy were very encouraging and helpful in developing our programs for competition, and I can’t thank them enough. We became partners about six weeks before our first competition, Dallas, so for such a quick start we couldn’t have done it without all their help and support.
There are so many other things as well. Our determination is a huge factor. Dimitry is a great partner, and the environment at MIDA is a great training experience. Both Dimitry and I also had successful competitive experience in previous partnerships, and we learned a lot which has really helped our skating today. It’s our first season together now, and we’ve been excited to show the results of our training and efforts, just super excited to be moving forward.
DT: We are being trained and guided by three very acclaimed coaches. We work hard, and our coaches and families have been incredibly supportive.
Dimitry, you relocated to Michigan from Colorado (1200 miles). Tell me about any major adjustments you had with the move and skating with a new partner.
Being born and raised in Colorado, I never thought about moving anywhere without mountains. As I got older and college loomed on the horizon, I realized that I would probably move away at some point. But, I had already prepared mentally for that change. Michigan has been a nice surprise. There are a lot of things here that are great, so the transition was smoother than expected.
What do you admire the most about your partner’s ice dancing contribution to the team?
KW: I always feel secure in our holds and I feel confident when we are competing. When we are learning lifts or working on difficult moves, I feel comfortable with Dimitry. He is solid and strong. Another thing I admire about Dimitry is how he shines in his performance. He has a genuine love for the sport, which shows in his enthusiasm and work ethic while we’re on the ice.
DT: Katarina is one of the most talented people I’ve ever met. She loves to skate; she’s a speedster on the ice, and her control over her skating is first class. She’s always up for a challenge, and she never complains no matter how hard something may be.
What did each of you bring to the partnership?
KW: My past Senior and Grand Prix competitions were great experiences to learn from. I enjoy performing in general. It helped the new partnership that we both like to compete.
DT: As for me, when I show up to skate, I show up to skate. Being all in is my biggest contribution.
The 2023-24 Senior Rhythm Dance includes several changes: No pattern plus a music choice from an entire decade before you were born, rather than a single genre. Share your thoughts on both.
KW: It’s always exciting to see the theme of the RD at the beginning of the season. Both my parents were enthusiastic and happy to offer their music suggestions once they heard that the theme was the 80s. It was fun to hear all their stories from the 80s.
DT: I’ve always liked pattern dances, and they give a good measurement on a skater’s technique. Most people understand what the 80s genre is like. It is very ingrained in pop culture, movies, music, etc., and then the audience also gets involved which is really great. My parents grew up in that era, so I could learn 80s dance moves from a genuine source.
Katarina, tell me about your choice of a Tango free dance. (I think its a FD first for you). What do you like the best about the program? Were there any new dance moves you had to learn?
After doing the Argentine Tango as a rhythm dance twice, I was looking forward to doing a Tango free dance. We looked at a lot of different examples of tango dances while preparing, and I liked getting into the character. The particular tango we chose was the most expressive piece of music that we heard. The coaches thought it was a perfect fit.
Dimitry, tell me about your Free Dance. You skated a Tango program with a previous partner. Did that help with the Latin dance moves?
I love the Tango. The program I did before was an entirely different Tango from the Tango we are doing now. This one is more creative and mature, and we are able to be very expressive.
What are your long term partner skating goals?
KW: Long term, I want us to keep growing as a team so we can be competitive at the World and Olympic level.
DT: Our long term skating goals are to be on the World and Olympic team by 2026 or 2030. We will work hard to get to that point.
What are you looking forward to the most about your team debut at the National Championships in Columbus?
KW: My grandfather is in Columbus, and he’s never seen me compete so I’m especially looking forward to seeing him. I’m just really happy to be there this year. The most important goal for us this year is to just show who we are and what we can do. We will skate to the best of our abilities. That’s our main goal for Nationals.
DT: We enjoy every competition that we have entered this season. We look forward to skating our best at Nationals, since that is the biggest competition for us this year.
Dmitry, tell me about your music training? Does it help with your ice dancing? If so, please explain.
I play cello at a high level, and it helps in the way that I interpret the music I listen to. This is mostly classical music for programs, but I love branching out to other styles and instruments, for as wide a variety as possible.
Katarina, you earned a bronze medal for USA at the 2020 Winter Youth Olympic Games in Lausanne, SUI with a previous partner. Describe that international experience.
The Youth Olympics are pretty special. Representing the U.S. is an honor like no other, and there was this incredible enthusiasm in Lausanne, just great energy everywhere. There’s also this feeling of camaraderie and idealism in sportsmanship, you know, that we’re here and this is what sports in the world are all about. Let’s be the very best athletes and people that we can be. I loved it.