A quick word: Olga Sharutenko

By Jacqueline Smith

Former world junior ice skating champ who partnered Torchwood star John Barrowman on Dancing on Ice, is now part of the Imperial Ice Stars troupe and plays Odette in Swan Lake on Ice which is returning to Auckland this month.

Olga Sharutenko says ice skating is a very emotional sport. Photo / Supplied
Olga Sharutenko says ice skating is a very emotional sport. Photo / Supplied

So, have you been skating for 20 years?
To be correct, for the last 26 years.

How old are you now?
I am 32 now and I started when I was 6.

Does skating feel more natural than walking now?
I would say yes because it definitely feels like a normal thing, like walking or breathing. But the thing is, figure skating is something you can create - you can't create a new walk when you are walking on the street.

What made you switch from competitive skating to theatrical skating?
I spent 16 years being a sportsperson and going to the competitions. Actually you become addicted when you start to skate. When I finished sport I did not want to finish figure skating, so I came to theatre and I fell in love with it. You don't have to follow any rules and you have to be very artistic - you have to deliver your character and believe it so the audience can understand you. I was only going to stay one year but I have been here 11.

You've done Peter Pan, The Phantom of The Opera and a few others but as you are Russian, how important is Swan Lake to you?
Very important - it's something special, not just for Russians but all ballet people.

I hear you are about half the size of some of the people you skate with but you are still able to lift them up. How did you get so strong?
It's more of a technical thing. I love my work it keeps me busy all the time and figure skating is such a physically demanding sport that you don't have to do anything special. When we have our shows and we are on tour we have eight shows a week, sometimes two shows a day. It makes you absolutely, perfectly fit. You don't have to really diet to keep in great shape and you don't have to go to the gym to make you strong.

That's lucky. John Barrowman, who was your partner on the TV show Dancing on Ice, said in an interview he used to cry before he went on the ice - do you do anything like that?
I am always nervous, it doesn't matter what I'm going to do. But I don't do anything special. I would say that figure skating is a very emotional sport.

Is this more of a sport or an art do you think?
I think now for me it is more of an art. Thank you for this question. It is a very beautiful thing, very graceful. I came from sport to theatre on ice. I think it's great. I would love to call it art.

As someone who spends most of your time in the cold do you long for summer or do you like being around ice all the time?
Every time I get to the ice arena I say I'm cold. And everyone around me says "you are joking, you are Russian, you are from Siberia, and you are a figure skater, you just cannot be cold". But I don't like cold. I absolutely hate it. I love to be warm. But when I got to theatre on ice I learned figure skating could be very, very warm because of the theatre itself - the audience being so close and the lights - so I am absolutely comfortable and happy to be with theatre on ice.

As you have been competitively skating since you were a child, did you go to school?
We do it slightly differently - we start school at 7, and until I was 15 I was in normal school. Sometimes I had to be off school, which no one else was allowed to do, but because I was a potential champion my parents spoke to the director of the school. Then, of course, I had to learn the rest of it at home with my granny. But after that I was in a special school for athletes.

I understand your mother was a figure skater and that is what got you into it. Do you have brothers and sisters and do they skate?
I have a younger sister. When she was four or five years old I put her in my old boots and took her outside - in winter time we can skate on the street, it is so easy in Russia. She was so natural but when she got older she didn't want to go to training, she didn't wake up early - she was a bit lazy and didn't want to be a figure skater.

I have another question you might be able to help me with for my own knowledge - as you are from a cold place you might have more of an idea. Do swans actually slide across ice?
[laughs] No, usually they don't. They don't have skates on their feet unfortunately. But if they did, they would.

LOWDOWN

What: Swan Lake on Ice
When: Eight shows from July 21
Where: Auckland ASB Theatre, THe Edge

- NZ Herald

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