In April 2014, Dylan Moscovitch was sitting at home in Toronto. His Olympic silver medal winning partnership had just ended unexpectedly. He thought about retiring, but figure skating wasn't just what he did for a living; it was who he was. He felt that he had goals he still wanted to accomplish, that he had more to give back to the sport. He wasn't going to retire on someone else's terms. He wasn't finished yet.
Lubov Ilyushechkina was half a world away at home in Moscow. The 2009 World Junior Champion also had several partnerships that didn't work out. While she was studying, coaching and choreographing, she too had a nagging sense that she had more to give to the competitive figure skating world.
The skating community is very small. Dylan invited Lubov for a tryout. Serendipitously, though she didn't have a Canadian visa, she did have one for the USA. They met, skated together, and something clicked. Two days into their tryout, Lubov & Dylan canceled their other tryouts and Lubov's flight back to Russia. For the next 6 weeks, while they waited for a Canadian visa, they couch surfed with friends and trained without a coach. Intuitively, they trusted each other and communicated well.
Dylan is strong, positive and has a great sense of humour. His dedication to the sport he loves knows no bounds - when he was told by his first coach that he would never make it as a pairs skater because he was too skinny, he hit the gym hard and packed on 25 lbs of muscle. Dylan recognizes that he is a role model to young athletes, and always tries to approach every obstacle and task with grace, maturity and humility. As Dylan says, "Sometimes life will test your will and when it does, it makes the success along the way that much sweeter. "
Lubov may seem fragile on the outside,but those who know her see that she's a tiny dynamo - a tough, determined, passionate personality who fearlessly faces her challenges. When she talks about skating and competing, you can see the joy and love in her eyes. As strange as it sounds, Lubov has been wanting to move to Canada from her first visit, to compete in the Grand Prix in 2010 (where she beat Dylan!). She was astounded by Canadian warmth and hospitality, and amazed by the fact that Canadians cheered just as loudly for her as they did for Canadians. When she heard her Canadian competitors wish her good luck before her performance, she knew the country was for her. As she says "I wanted to be among them! I wanted to be a part of them! I wanted to be one of them!!! To live in Canada was a brave dream. To represent Canada was beyond my imagination". Lubov was and is determined to be in charge of her own destiny.
Things weren't easy for Team Lubov & Dylan at the beginning. They weren't sure if Lubov would be allowed to compete for Canada. She left her culture, home, family and friends, and her job. She was coaching children and grew attached to them - they're still sending her messages of good luck, but at the same time that they miss her and are waiting for her. Financially, it has been a struggle. Their partnership had not been made in time to be placed on the Canadian national team, and receive team funding. Figure skating is an expensive sport - Dylan and Lubov estimate this year alone will cost them about $105,000 on a bare bones budget. They scrape by, and they persevere - they know it's worth it. As Dylan says, " I am lucky to have found the person who I think is my best match as a partner yet".
It has been worth it so far. For their first four competitions - four wins in a row. Then their biggest test yet - the Canadian National Championships. Lubov and Dylan were competing against teams far more experienced than themselves, who had been competing together for years. The crowd knew they were something special, and roared with support everytime they stepped on the ice. They won the silver medal, which is as good as gold to them.
What's next? A trip to the Four Continents Championships in February and a place on the World Championship team in March. A chance to test themselves against the best in the world. From there, who knows? Their potential is limitless.
Lubov & Dylan: Made for Canada.
Get to know us in our own words: http://www.theskatinglesson.com/tsls-interview-with-luba-iliushechkina-dylan-moscovitch/
Our latest competitive performance: http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x2bxtxp_luba-ilyusheshkina-dylan-moscovitch-senior-pairs-short-program-replay_sport
See a short video clip on the beauty of strength: http://www.sportsnet.ca/the-beauty-of-sport/
Lubov & Dylan's Competitive Record:
Central Ontario Oktoberfest (Local Competition): First
Central Ontario Sectionals (Local Competition): First
Warsaw Cup (International Competition): First
Canadian Challenge (Divisional Competition): First
Canadian Championships: Second
Past Highlights: Dylan
2014 Olympics, Team competition: 2nd
2014 Olympics, Pair Competition: 5th
2014 World Championships: 4th
2013 World Championships: 4th
2011 Canadian National Champion
Past Highlights: Lubov
2010 Grand Prix Final: 4th
2010 Skate Canada International Champion
2009 European Championships: 5th
2009 Russian Championships: 3rd
2009 World Junior Champion
Average estimated annual costs for an Elite Pair Figure Skating Team
Skating lessons: $31 per 15 min lesson , roughly 40/week: $62,000 per year
Personal training $80/hour: 1/week each: $6780 per year
Ballet: $50/hour: 1 hour/week: $2400 per year
Sport psychology $50/hour: 1/month each:$4800 per year
Choreography: $11,300 for short & long programs
Therapy/Massage:$65/Hour: as needed
Boots & Blades: $1400 per set, each of us need 2 per year: $5600 per year
Sharpening: $20/sharpening, every 6 weeks: $320 per year
Practice clothes: $600 per year
Costumes: $5800 for short & long programs
Ice time: $300/month, or $3600 for the year
Competition Travel/accommodation: $1000
Grand Total (just training costs, excluding living expenses): Roughly $105,000