“It’s just such a tragedy,” Victoria Petrenko said of the Ukraine crisis, her voice choking with emotion. “He says he tries to stay inside. So far so good. I tried to get him to leave, but I don’t think border situations are easy. I hope he will soon be able to leave safe and sound.
Asked to comment on the ban on Russian skaters, Galina Zmievskaya, a native of Ukraine and former coach of Petrenko, who now teaches at the Ice House in Hackensack, NJ, said in a statement: “It’s more important than skating artistic at the moment. We see a country being destroyed and innocent lives being endangered every second.
Zmievskaya, who also coached Ukrainian Oksana Baiul to an Olympic gold medal in 1994, added: “We are all deeply saddened and at a loss for words watching this tragedy unfold. The most important thing on our mind right now is to help the people of this beautiful country and achieve peace.
The ban on Russian skaters came a day after the country’s athletes were banned from competing in international soccer and ice hockey events. The International Olympic Committee has asked all sports governing bodies not to invite or allow Russian athletes to compete.
Russo-Ukrainian war: what you need to know
Tom Zakrajsek, an American figure skating coach, said in a text message that the sanction against the Russian skaters “seems entirely appropriate”. He continued: “Logically, I don’t think they could have made any other choice.”
The ban imposed by the International Skating Union came even though its vice-president, Alexander Lakernik of Russia, is a powerful figure in the governing body. Reached briefly, Lakernik said he could not comment, given his position in the organization.
Tamara Moskvina, a pairs coach whose skaters have won Olympic medals from 1984 to 2022, obliquely criticized the ban in a phone interview from St. Petersburg, Russia, saying: “Read the code of ethics of the ISU where it says that the ISU cannot take into consideration differences of race, politics, religion, etc., and then you will know if the “ban” coincides with the measures taken by the ISU or not”.