Gleb Smolkin: “When what happened in February happened, we immediately applied for my green card”
Gleb Smolkin, who performs in ice dance in a pair with Diana Davis, explained why they do not come to Russian competitions yet.
Skaters train in the USA. They were listed for the Russian Grand Prix in Moscow and Perm, but missed both competitions. They will also miss the Russian Nationals.
Gleb Smolkin: We do not sit out any quarantines, at least on purpose. If we had Grand Prix stages, everything would have gone according to plan, and we would have performed everywhere because we have everything ready: programs and costumes. We already had everything prepared for the test skates. We posted in July…
Indeed, everything was ready, except for my documents. When what happened in February happened, we immediately applied for my green card. All these years that we have been training in the USA, I have had constant problems with entry. Unfortunately, they treat young people with a Russian passport very harshly.
I am constantly stopped at the border and spend six or seven hours at some interviews, while Diana is waiting for me with suitcases. This is a crazy problem. And it’s a completely different story when you have a residence permit, as it is called in other countries. So we seized the moment and applied for it, and everything is still in the process of consideration; I have not received it yet.
They probably don’t have reasons for refusal, but it takes a very long time, especially now with a Russian passport. We hoped that because it happened faster for many people, and our lawyers predicted that it could happen faster, we would be able to compete, but that did not happen. This is the first reason.
Even despite this, there was some imaginary loophole, which we still could not use: they can give permission to leave on an exceptional basis if it’s some kind of big competition. If I say, “Guys, I have a business, I do sports, and this is what I earn from and provide for myself.”
As you understand, the stages of the Russian Grand Prix do not sound like this. Therefore, of course, no one gave me anything; this is absolutely not a good reason.
The worst part is that a week before the mobilization announcement, a week before the test skates, a district police officer arrived at my family’s house with a summons. He was interested in where I was.
We just discussed with Diana, families, and coaches that if we come, we have no idea what kind of paper-bureaucratic situation we will find ourselves in.
All these procedures – how they will take place, what will happen to me – will we have the opportunity to compete and then return back to our house?
We have been living here for the past four years; we have a life here, a team, we train here, and we have no plans to change our lives. At least, we wouldn’t want to. It is important for us to train where we train.
We think this is an incredible advantage for our career and an opportunity that many who would like to do the same do not have. We don’t want to say goodbye to this opportunity.
Therefore, it was a very big risk and still is, and not a very justified risk. Therefore, now that there is such a season – well no season, we decided that it would be better to wait.
We have something to work on; we do not waste time.
We don’t really know what’s going to happen tomorrow. We want to perform; this is probably the most honest and simple answer. This is the only thing that is important to us, besides the fact that we do not want people to die.
We want to compete with the best, compete at the world level, and we want to see what chances we have in general in figure skating and ice dance relative to the world podium—where we will be and what we can achieve.
Of course, skating for years inside Russia probably doesn’t sound very attractive to us. Our parents invest a lot so that we train with the best in the best environment, and this should result somewhere. This is probably the most honest answer.
Related topics: Diana Davis Gleb Smolkin
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