Artem Markelov: “I was always very stressed when I had to jump in competitions. That’s why I switched to ice dance – at least there’s no need to jump.”

Posted on 2024-06-05 • No comments yet


Translation of the interview with Artem Markelov.

original source: RSport dd. 31st May 2024 by Vlad Zhukov

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With his skating partner, Leah Neset, Artem Markelov is the 2024 Junior World champion. In an interview with RSport he talks about his decision to switch to represent USA. Here’s a translation of his comments.

“I started figure skating at the age of 9,” says Artem Markelov. “Before that I was attending swimming, taekwondo, ballroom dancing, and did kung fu for a few weeks, but it didn’t stick. Then, a new ice center was built in our town, where a group for hockey was being started. My mom suggested to try but I declined immediately – I thought it was a very aggressive sport and I would lose my teeth. That’s when the idea of figure skating came up.”

Neither a late entry into sport not the realities of a small town prevented his talent from breaking through. “At that time, about 210 boys were skating at our school,” says Markelov’s first coach Svetlana Yaroslavtseva. “The ice was commercial, so we were mostly admitting kids based on their interest. And when a child has interest, as Artem had, there is no question of taking or not taking. He always ran to the training with bright eyes, worked hard. His main quality was the desire to learn, focus. Yes, he was physically good, he was always an interesting boy. But he got into the groove pretty quickly thanks to his persistence and hard work.”

“In single skating, I don’t think I’ve ever won anything significant, but I did jump doubles,” says Markelov. “I also had one triple, a salchow I think. I was also practicing a loop, but I don’t think I ever jumped it clean. For a 15-year-old single skater, which I was at the time, my skills were sort of mediocre, but for a pair skater, they were just right. But in general, jumps have always been a problem for me. I was always very stressed when I had to jump in competitions. That’s why I switched to ice dance – at least there’s no need to jump.”

It was Yaroslavtseva who first noticed the young skater’s inclination towards pair disciplines. At the same time, she understood that there are no specialized specialists in Volgograd – nor is there a future for Markelov in these types of disciplines. There was only one solution.

“Svetlana Ivanovna Yaroslavtseva is a very kind person,” Artem recalls. “She always supported me. She helped me move to Moscow so that I could switch to pair skating. I think I was 15 at the time. She had contacts with coach Sergei Dobroskokov, whom I went to train with, so you could say that she started the whole process and I am very grateful to her for that.”

“By that time, considering both Artem’s age and his skills, staying with us… I didn’t see the point,” says Yaroslavtseva. “In Volgograd, there was no opportunity to give him a push in the same ice dance – we don’t even have such coaches.”

“I moved on my own,” continues the figure skater. “I had an aunt living in Moscow, and I stayed with her while I was in the capital. My training schedule sometimes didn’t coincide with hers, so we sometimes didn’t see each other all day. In Moscow, I learned to cook not just breakfast, but lunch and dinner as well. I also had to learn to plan shopping trips for groceries.”

After try-outs in Dobroskokov’s group, Artem decided to focus on ice dance. He joined Ksenia Rumyantseva’s group, where he stayed for about eight months. Initially, dance training in the harsh “Moscow” regime surprised him in a negative way – after 2-3 hours of ice time per day in his native Volgograd, he had to train 6-7 hours. But, according to the figure skater, this period made him stronger and prepared him for the challenges of big sports.

His first partner was Ksenia Makeeva. With her, Markelov managed to participate in the international “Santa Claus Trophy” competition in Hungary in 2019, but the pair’s paths quickly diverged due to differences in character.

“And then the opportunity arose to partner with Leah Neset,” says Artem. “We connected via a Russian partner search website, and this was pretty interesting. Although considering that our coach is Russian (Elena Dostatni), it’s actually normal. We matched very well – both in height and in age (Markelov is currently 20 years old, Neset is 18). I realized that I couldn’t afford to miss such an opportunity.”

The decision to move to the United States was not an easy one for Artem and his family. But after negotiations with his partner’s family, Artem’s mother gave her blessing.

“When I moved, I lived with Leah’s parents,” Markelov recalls. “At first we thought this would be a temporary solution, but then it turned out that we were so comfortable with each other that there was no need to move. Plus, it was more convenient to go to training, as we live about 25 minutes from the ice rink. Leah has a great family, she herself is a very good, kind person, the coach was very suitable for us, so there is no reason to worry.”

“At that point, I wasn’t really considering staying to skate for Russia,” he adds. “Everything just immediately went well – we matched on all parameters, were compatible. And on the second day, we decided to team up. So, you could say that I didn’t have time to think. The U.S. team welcomed me very well. They helped me with the move, with changing my sports citizenship. They took all the paperwork on themselves.”

“Before moving, of course, I was worried,” he says. “But what I noticed immediately is that people in the States are very kind. They are always smiling, they are super friendly, so integrating into this culture is much easier than it seems at first glance. About a month after moving, I already felt at home. I noticed the difference in approaches to figure skating between Russia and the U.S. immediately. It may sound funny, but the first thing you notice is that it is much warmer on the ice rinks here. Not all of them, but many. Plus, what comes from the American mentality – everyone at the rink is very friendly towards you. I mean not only coaches, but also staff. Everyone tries to cheer you up, they ask about your mood, they greet you.”


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