Landing the Triple: Female, Israeli, and First
Anya Davidovich, a sixteen-year old girl born in the USA, will be skating for Israel in the Winter Olympics. Her parents are Israeli, and most of her family lives in Israel. She is part of the first-ever pairs team to compete for Israel in the Olympics and the only female member of Team Israel. Anya will be carrying the flag for the Israeli delegation.
Paula Sinclair, JWA Director of Programs & Partnerships, interviewed Anya and her mother as they prepared for their trip to Sochi.
Anya started skating when she was four years old in Burlington, VT. By the time she was a teenager, she was already skating for the Israeli team as a junior skater. It was only last spring—not even a year ago—that Boris Chait, president of the Israeli Ice Skating Federation, approached Anya to ask if she wanted to be part of a pairs team. Anya, who had always dreamed of skating pairs, jumped at the opportunity.
Her partner, Evgeny Krasnopolski, is twenty-five years old and Ukrainian-born. His former partner had injured herself, which opened up the possibility for Anya to skate with him. They had six months to prepare for the Olympic trials. Boris Chait had total confidence that Anya would be the right match for Evgeny. In fact, says Anya, after the second day of training together, “Evgeny picked me up to do a very complicated move and told me it took his partner eight months to learn what I did that day. ” And so their training began.
The pair trains on average eight hours per day, six hours on the ice and two hours off, including time in the ballet studio. When Anya has time for school, it is through an online course. Given their age disparity, Anya looks at Evgeny like an older brother. Still, it is Anya who has held their partnership together during times of stress. He broke down before major competitions in September and again in January. “Before the short program at the Olympic trials, Evgeny got so nervous he told me he would not go on the ice. That he could not do it. I stayed calm, and let him know that we were going on the ice, that in fact we could do it.” And qualify they did, coming in seventh at the European Skating Championships in Budapest in early January.
While Anya does not feel that she has had to surmount any extra barriers as a female athlete, she is quick to point out, “In pairs skating, when something goes wrong, the girl is always blamed. The female partner ultimately has more responsibility,” because she has to land the move.
Anya seems to take this all in stride, mature and wise beyond her years. She “cannot imagine a greater pride than representing Israel in the Olympics.” For her mother, Marina, this pride is equally as palpable. Marina moved to Israel from Russia, went to Technion–Israel Institute of Technology, and worked for IBM there before moving to the USA. While raised by atheist parents in Russia during the religiously restrictive years of the Socialist regime, Marina’s family still practiced their own brand of cultural Judaism. “We had a gastronomic sense of all the holidays, and I knew them all; on Passover my grandmother would sneak off somewhere to buy matzoh,” says Marina. Both of her children attended Hebrew School, had Bar and Bat Mitzvahs, and were raised with a strong sense of their Jewish identity.
Marina and the rest of the family now live in Livingston, New Jersey to be close to the Israeli training center in Hackensack. She works for JP Morgan Chase, and her remote office is in the ice rink. Marina, referring to her relationship with her daughter but also speaking generally, is firm and persuasive in her conviction that every person needs “someone strong to push them and someone who believes in them.”
Anya is a bit nervous about the security situation in Sochi, but feels assured that the extra “three rings” of security around Israel’s Olympians will be sufficient. Moreover, she says, “I cannot wait to wear the Israeli jacket everywhere I go. It is such an honor.”
Watch Anya and Evgeny’s recent performance at the European Championships: