by Anne Calder | Skating Photos by Daphne Backman | Off Ice Photos by Jordan Cowan
IDC chatted with the new team of Harlow Stanley & Nikita Sosnenko in July at both the Dallas Open and Lake Placid Ice Dance International.
Ten years ago her family moved to Leesburg, Virginia, and Stanley soon started skating at the Ashburn Ice House. While she is the first generation of skaters on both sides of her family, her heritage includes activities in a combination of sports. Her mother’s family was involved in the Mexican Rodeo, while her grandfather on her father’s side played baseball for the New York Yankees. Her sister plays tennis.
“I tried different sports, but I loved skating,” Stanley said. “I did eight years of freestyle combined with solo dance plus a couple of years of synchro skating. My earliest skating memories are definitely making my own dance routines to cringe music with my friends on the public ice sessions,”
Prior to Covid-19 in January 2020, Stanley switched her skating location to ION National Training Center.
“It proved to be a challenge,” Stanley noted. “I was out for most of the year since I broke my foot. I didn’t have access to skating rinks. I tried to keep up with zoom lessons and lots of off-ice training.
Stanley began working with the WISA (Wheaton Ice Skating Academy) coaches in April 2021.
“We had no luck finding a U.S. partner, so we started looking abroad,” Stanley explained. “That’s when the coaches found Nikita, and he agreed to come skate with me.”
Sosnenko was born in Kyiv, Ukraine December 23, 2003. He began his skating journey when he was three years old because both parents were skaters.
“I started in freestyle, then moved to dance when I was thirteen to follow in the footsteps of my father,” Sosnenko said. “He represented Ukraine in the 1994 Olympics as an ice dancer. I did Ice Dance from 2015-2020 until Covid hit. My partnership dissolved because we did not have any place to train. All the rinks closed.”
Harlow is Sosnenko’s third partner. He previously skated with Karina Kalian and Liubov Mykhailychenko.
“Skating for my family was an opportunity to travel the world, so my parents had the same vision for me,” Sosnenko said. “When I received the invitation to come to the United States and train with Harlow I accepted right away, but it was a long process of eight months between, passports, interviews and getting my American visa.”
The team currently trains with Alexei Kiliakov, Elena Novak, Ruslan Goncharov, Vasily Serkov and Jimmie Manners at the ION International Training Center in Leesburg, Virginia.
Stanley & Sosnenko discussed what they like most about skating with each other.
“I never had a partner before so all the lifts, holds, and transitional steps are very fun and new to me,” Stanley said. “I like that he is tall and strong, and I trust him to carry me through the ice, I also like that our personalities are so different, but some how we make it work, and we show good chemistry on the ice.”
“Harlow listens to what I have to say,” Sosnenko added. “She understands my point of view. I like that she has given me the opportunity to represent her beautiful and fun country of Mexico.”
The team is building a strong friendship while developing similar objectives.
“We went from being complete strangers with nothing in common but skating to being good friends,” Stanley said. “We share the same skating goals; we know what to work on. Nikita cares about my culture so he is learning Spanish, [which is his fourth language].”
The duo explained their music selections.
The rhythm dance music includes “Tres Son Multitud” by Carlos Libedinsky and “Mario Takes a Walk” by Jesse Cook.
Both dancers have had different experiences with the season’s pattern, Argentine Tango.
“This is my first ever partnering,” Stanley explained. “I did only two seasons of solo dance. The whole pattern dances, the whole structure of moving with someone and getting coordinated for me was a big adjustment.”
“I did Argentine Tango before, so for me, it’s somewhat easier,” Sosnenko added. “We are learning. The Rhythm Dance is still new for us.”
The free dance is the “Masquerade Suite Waltz” by Aram Khachaturian.
“We had the opportunity to show our FD at the Mexican National Open in May,” Stanley said. “We did not do the Rhythm Dance.”
In Lake Placid the team discussed what they had learned at their Dallas Open debut in early July.
“Dallas was my first official ice dance competition, so I learned how it goes and how to manage nerves,” Stanley said. “I have to bring all the qualities that we have been training at ION to competitions. I need to have a positive outlook and know that if we do mess up it’s okay, and we can still keep going and give it our best.’
“Since it was our first competition together, we were getting to know each other doing competitions,” Sosnenko added. “We are trying to support each other to get in the mood before. We were working on the technical stuff, presentation, too. We are grateful to share the ice with all the amazing teams we see in competitions.”
Team Stanley & Sosnenko will make its ISU Junior Grand Prix of Figure Skating debut in Riga, Latvia on September 7-10 followed by a second event from September 28-October 1 in Gdansk, Poland.
They are very excited about representing Mexico in the Series.
“I’ve never competed in Europe, only in the USA and Mexico, so this is big for me,” Stanley said. “I’m excited to meet other teams internationally, make connections and just see how international competitions work.”
“I’m excited for me and Harlow, too,” Sosnenko added. ”I’ve never been in JGPs. It will be a new experience, something very important for us. I am excited to represent Mexico, too.”
Stanley & Sosnenko is only the third team to represent the Mexican Federation at the ISU Junior Grand Prix of Figure Slating since its debut in 1997. Previous competitors include: Pilar Moreno & Leonardo Moreno (2011 JGP Cup of Austria) and Megumi Tsutsumi & Devin Dickey (2017 JGP Croatia Cup).
All the Junior Grand Prix events are streamed on the ISU Junior Grand Prix Channel.
Stanley and Sosnenko shared some final thoughts about them as a new team…
“We are a new team (11 Months), with different backgrounds, different cultures, different languages, but we love what we do. It’s a sport where you spend around five hours a day holding hands and communicating with your partner. We have come a long way with still many things to practice and improve, but we are working hard. We are optimistic and want to make this partnership an experience of a lifetime. We want to make Mexico proud and motivate and inspire girls and boys to try our sport.”