Eight years ago,Sofia Bezkorovainaya was a 3-year-old enchanted by Russian figure skater Yulia Lipnitskaya’s performances at the Sochi Olympics. Now Sofia, who trains at Loudoun’s Ashburn Ice House, is the 2022 U.S. Figure Skating national juvenile champion with Olympic dreams of her own.
January is National Skating Month, and with the Beijing Winter Olympics coming up next month, Loudoun’s skating facilities are celebrating impressive performances at nationals and getting ready for a wave of interest in figure skating from kids all over Loudoun.
Sofia, now 11, started once-a-week lessons at age 3 and began private lessons at 4. Now she does online school and practices around five hours a day in Ashburn with her coach Inna Volyanskaya.
And it all started with the Ice House’s learn-to-skate program.
“The learn-to-skate program is so good for all ages,” Sofia said.
As a preschooler, she made friends and fell in love with skating. As a tween, she’s committed to taking it all the way.
Last week, Sofia, her mother Katya and coach Volyanskaya spoke withLoudoun Nowfrom U.S. Figure Skating Nationals in Nashville. Sofia had already earned her title but stayed in Nashville for a national development camp and an opportunity to watch top U.S. senior skaters qualify for the Olympics.
Leesburg’s Ion International Training Center also had several skaters competing in Nashville, including ice dancing team Caroline Green and Michael Parsons, who hail from Maryland and train in Leesburg. Green and Parsonsearned a spot as Olympic alternates afteran impressive fourth-place finish in the national ice dancing championship. Last fall, Ion ITC was one of eight sites across the U.S. to host U.S. Figure Skating Championship Series events as qualifiers for the national championship.
Sofia and her family live in Springfield but make the commute to Ashburn Ice House to work with Volyanskaya, a noted pairs skater who won numerous international competitions on the Soviet national team in the 1980s.
“We knew she was one of the best coaches in the area—that’s why we made the decision,” KatyaBezkorovainaya said.
Volyanskaya said the Ice House’s management and learn-to-skate development program were part of the appeal for her as a coach.
“When you have a good program for learn-to-skate, you can grow good skaters,”Volyanskayasaid.“It’s a lot of fun for kids; they make friends and learn new elements, have fun together and grow together.”
Volyanskayasaid skating facilities often see a bump after the Winter Olympics, just as a young Sofia was inspired byLipnitskaya’s gold medal winning performance in 2014.
“She wanted to skate like her. I’m sure after the Olympics there will be a lot of new kids inspired by skaters’ performances,” Katya Bezkorovainaya said.
Volyanskaya said after the initial learn-to-skate phase, some kids, like Sofia, get the bug and have the talent and commitment to take it to the next level.
This year, Sofia won the juvenile division, open to skaters 13 and younger. U.S. figure skating offers several levels before seniors, including intermediate and novice and junior levels. But Volyanskaya said Sofia will likely move up quickly because of her national win.
For Sofia, her passion means lots of work and commitment, but she still taps into the pure joy of skating.
“I love the coldness of the rink. I love making friends there,” she said, adding that her favorite element is the triple flip, an impressive toe jump approached backwards.
Is 2026 or 2030 in Sophia’s future? Northern Virginia will be watching. But the Olympics is her goal, and she’s ready to put in the work.
“I’m going to try my hardest every single time,” Sofia said.
For more information about figure skating programs at Ashburn Ice House, go to ashburnice.com
Follow Sofia Bezkorovainaya on Instagram at @sofiabezkorovainaya.
For information about Ion International Training Center, go to ionitc.com.