Ivan Shmuratko: “My mission is to represent my country. I want people in Europe and in the world to not forget about the war in Ukraine.”

Posted on 2024-03-20 • No comments yet


Translation of the interview with Ivan Shmuratko about European Championships, his programs, training conditions and his mission in Ukrainian figure skating.

Interview is kindly provided by Emilia Sokolik
Original source: sport.poinformowani.pl dd. 19th March 2024
Proofreading: Weronika Surowiec [instagram: @figure.it.out23]

photo Getty Images

In January 2024 Ivan Shmuratko, a Ukrainian figure skater, took part in European Championships in Kaunas, Lithuania, where he placed 14th. His performances has made a big impression on the large audience. He took the ice in a white shirt with a red stain that looked like blood. This way he wanted to remind the world about the war in Ukraine. After the competition, Ivan gave an interview to Poinformowani.pl.

Q: Congratulations on both your performances here in Kaunas. You weren’t at the European Championships last year as you had a break because of the injury. How are you feeling to be back after such a long time?

Ivan Shmuratko: I wasn’t skating for some time, I was recovering, training off-ice. Then I got back on the ice and qualified for the Europeans and Worlds. I am healthy now and I’m feeling good to be here.

Q: I would like to ask about both of your performances. Your short program is about a child, who is born, learns to walk, plays with the father, and then is killed during a war. What is the meaning behind your free program and how it is connected with the short?

Ivan Shmuratko: It’s the story. Free program is the continuation of the story from my short about the kid who was hit by a missile strike. It’s a story about the life of a kid, about life and death, and about life after death. It’s the kind of topic I can’t really speak about too much because there are not so many words in any language vocabulary. But there is a language of art, of choreography and figure skating, which I’m really grateful to be able to perform what I couldn’t perform with words.

Q: Your girlfriend painted leaves on a costume for your previous free program. What about the current one? You have a white shirt with a red stain symbolizing blood, to remind the world about the Ukrainians killed by Russian missiles. Did your girlfriend also create this costume?

Ivan Shmuratko: No, it is exactly the same white shirt as in the short program. I just created this red stain during, like, three hours before the event, on the same shirt.

Q: So you painted it here?

Ivan Shmuratko: Yes.

Q: By yourself?

Ivan Shmuratko: Yes.

Q: Amazing story! You are a true artist.

Ivan Shmuratko: Thank you.

Q: Let’s talk about a choreographic fall at the end of your short program. First, you got a deduction for it at the Nepela Memorial in September. Then you removed it at the Grand Prix in Espoo. Why did you risk this element here in Kaunas?

Ivan Shmuratko: I didn’t risk it. It’s a part of my program. Actually, I don’t like to call it a program. It’s a performance, as we call it, with my choreographer, Mykhailo Leiba. We didn’t risk, we just did it tactically so that everything was according to the rules. I did my performance in full because if it had been without any elements that we incorporated into it, it wouldn’t have been the performance that we wanted to create.

Q: You said that your choreographic fall was according to the rules here, in Kaunas. So why was it deducted at the Nepela Memorial?

Ivan Shmuratko: At Nepela Memorial, I was doing this element inside the music. Here, at Europeans, I did it outside the music: I stopped, waited for two seconds, and fell.

Q: It was great to see the full performance with that meaningful fall at the end. I would also like to ask about another choreographic element – your signature move, Shmuratko Split. Whose idea was it to add it to your performances?

Ivan Shmuratko: It was a kind of thinking process. We created this element in 2022 when we were working on the program with Adam Solya. I was just in the process of cooking, thinking about the performance, I worked on my flexibility and decided to try this split on ice.

Q: Many years ago Surya Bonaly was performing a similar element but I don’t know whether someone did it exactly the same way you are doing it.

Ivan Shmuratko: I don’t know either. But I’m happy it is called by my name. For now, I can call it Shmuratko Split.

Q: Does this element have a special meaning in your performance?

Ivan Shmuratko: For me, every move has a meaning. If I do something, I do it from my heart. When I speak, every word counts. So that in the program, when I move, every move counts. This element is special for me like every other hand movement, body movement, head movement. I enjoy performing.

Q: What is your coaching situation? You were self-coached for some time. How is it now?

Ivan Shmuratko: About 90% of the time, I’m working by myself, going through my training process and creating some system for myself. Of course, I’m helped by Mykhailo Leiba and by Olga Kurovskaya, who is with me at this event. For now, the main thing is that whatever I do on the ice, I need the ice to do anything. I need the ice hours so that I can practice more. Not even more, but smart. Not 35-40 hours a week, but what I need. It would be really good to find about 10–15 hours to do quality sessions.

Q: Do you have such an opportunity in Kyiv now?

Ivan Shmuratko: No, I don’t have it for now, but I want to find it, to talk to achieve these ice hours because in order to perform, I need to practice.

Q: Why did you decide to train in Ukraine, not abroad?

Ivan Shmuratko: Ukraine is my home. I live there and I’m in charge of Ukrainian figure skating. So I need to skate not only for myself but for the Ukrainian national team and for all figure skaters – from young guys to people of any age. I want to develop this sport in my country. Maybe the situation with practices is better in other countries in Europe, but I want to make it the best I can in Ukraine. Of course, the war is still happening and the Ukrainian army is fighting for us on the front lines. So I need to do everything from my side to make Ukraine proud and to raise Ukrainian figure skating.

Q: I think you are doing a very good job in this field. Is there something you would like to add from yourself?

Ivan Shmuratko: For sure. There aren’t any words to describe what war is. But I want people in Europe and in the world to not forget about what’s going on in Ukraine and to help by what they can. Because now the war is happening in the center of Europe and Ukrainian soldiers are fighting not only for our land but for Europe. Totalitarianism is not stopping.

My mission is to represent my country. And my country is fighting now because we need to win this war for the whole world and of course for our land at first, for our people. A lot of unimaginable things are happening. People couldn’t even imagine what tortures are, what rapes are. It’s just surreal for the people’s brains of the 21st century. So I just want people to understand this and be grateful to Ukrainian fighters. Not to me or someone else, but for the army. Because in Ukraine we, the civilians, are making everything for our army. You are either in the army or for the army.

Q: Thank you very much for the interview.

Ivan Shmuratko: I don’t remember having an interview in Polish before. There weren’t any. Thank you very much for talking to me. Have a nice day!


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