Bella & Vanya's Future in Figure Skating
Some may know that Vanya represented the Belarussian Skating Union during the 2021-2022 season. With Russia’s invasion and war with Ukraine, Vanya’s older brother advised him to find a way to leave the country. Within 14 days, Vanya relocated to the United States. He made this spontaneous decision to leave everything he’s ever known so he had a chance to influence his future regardless of the geo-politics going on in Russia. Hungry for a chance to live out his dream, he booked a flight to the USA with almost no knowledge of the language or culture and shards of a plan.
Bella and Vanya teamed up two months after his move, in early June. When the two first formed their partnership, they knew that they would have to wait for Vanya’s release–rules require that skaters wait at least one year from their last international competition to switch federations–so they were prepared to potentially “sit a season out”. At the end of the 2022-2023 season, the negotiations about Vanya's release from the Belarussian Skating Union began.
This week they learned that the Belarussian Skating Union will release Vanya… under the stipulation that the team must reimburse the federation $25k USD for all training costs that Vanya incurred in the previous season. In short: Vanya will not be able to represent the United States until this $25k is paid off.
While unusual, it is within any federation’s ability to ask for a return in their investment; this capability ensures that federations are not taken advantage of by skaters or other countries. Vanya’s situation may also be a reflection of the larger geo-political tensions at play. Regardless, this situation has given the team little other option other than to come up with the money themselves, or to wait out another year and hope for a better outcome. However, even if they were to wait, the Belarussian Skating Union may not change the terms of their negotiation, and Vanya will not be released at all.
Bella and Vanya chose to turn to their community for help. It’s hard to ask for financial support when there is a lot going on in the world that also demands attention; they know that skating is not important in the grand scheme of life. Still, they hope that their skating brings a smile to their audiences’ faces and will continue to do so for a long time to come.
If you are interested in supporting Bella and Vanya, please consider donating to this cause. A little bit goes a long way! Thank you in advance– the best is yet to come!
- Inga And Nate Jones
- Hooked On Ice
Colorado Springs, CO