Figure skating is an individual sport while rivalry exists, the skating world is in fact a closely-knit community where most people know and support each other. True friendship even among direct competitors is not a rare thing to see.
Alexander Samarin (RUS), Mark Kondratiuk (RUS), Makar Ignatov (RUS) and Dmitri Aliev (RUS) participate in Alexei Mishin’s birthday gala 2021©Tatjana Flade
ISU European Champion Dmitri Aliev’s (RUS) close friends are his teammates Makar Ignatov, Alexander Samarin and Mark Kondratiuk. Dmitri and Makar train together under coach Evgeni Rukavitsin in St. Petersburg while Alexander and Mark are based in Moscow and coached by Svetlana Sokolovskaia. The four of them just spent a month together at a training camp in Kislovodsk and last May the quartet went on vacation together.
Being rivals does not stop the Skaters from being friends. “Friendship is a very valuable concept to me,” Aliev said. “Sooner or later you need to be realistic and realize that sports will come to an end. I cannot skate until I am 50 years old, but the people remain. We share our experience, we help each other somewhere and maybe someone does not succeed, but they still shared their experience and it worked out for me. Or, on the contrary, I don’t succeed with something, but I shared something with them and they moved forward,” he added.
“It is a very fine and important moment to keep that rivalry separate and remain friends. Yes, we are competitors, we are fighting for one podium and we remain friends at the same time. That is very important and valuable.”
At Alexei Mishin’s birthday gala last March in St. Petersburg, the four men performed an exhibition number together to celebrate their friendship. “This number is very symbolic,” Dmitri shared. “In fact, our coaches probably were spot on with this program, because this has been a little dream of mine, born a long time ago. And there the four of us got together and this program was right on topic, on the journey of life.”