Kyrylo Marsak regains “strength” in Finland


Editor’s Note: On February 24, 2022, around 150,000 Russian “peacekeepers” troops and tanks crossed Ukraine’s borders, violating the country’s territorial integrity and sovereignty in what President Vladimir Putin called a “special military operation”. Missiles and airstrikes struck across the country, including the capital Kyiv, and a large ground invasion followed from multiple directions.

Ukraine has enacted martial law – the temporary substitution of military authority for civilian rule – and launched a general mobilization of all male Ukrainian citizens between the ages of 18 and 60. to do so was granted by the Ukrainian government.

As of August 15, 2022, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has recorded 13,212 civilian victims in the country: 5,514 killed – including 356 children – and 7,698 injured. In addition, more than 6.6 million people remain displaced by war.

Ukrainian national figure skating bronze medalist Kyrylo Marsak was sleeping at his home in Kyiv when the invasion began and he woke up to hear his relative talking loudly.

“They said the war had started, but I really didn’t believe them,” Marsak recalls, “because who can believe that in 2022 a war would start? But after a few minutes another bomb was dropped near Kyiv and I was shocked! At first I panicked, but then I remained calm. After the first day, I stayed in Kyiv for three weeks and not a day went by without explosions.

“I can’t express in words exactly how the war has affected me, but something inside me has clearly changed,” added the 17-year-old. “In many ways I was disappointed with the world order and the fact that people in government, especially in Russia, can influence and basically ruin my life, the lives of my family and millions of people. in my country.”

After three weeks, Marsak left for Poland with his 23-year-old sister. The trip lasted almost two days without sleep. Airspace was restricted for flights and the trip would normally have taken around 12 hours by car.

“We went from Kyiv to Lviv (city near the border with Poland) by train,” he said. “There were a lot of people on the train and we couldn’t sit down. We stayed 12 hours in the alley between the exit and the toilets. Once we got to Lviv we had to wait about 10 more hours for a train to Poland. It was between 8 p.m. and 6 a.m. and we were waiting on the platform with a lot of other people. It was very cold and there were many doubtful people. Once on the train, we drove for two or three hours and then we stopped in the middle of a field. There was nothing there, but thank goodness there were volunteers who fed people and gave warm clothes so people could keep warm. We stayed at this place for almost seven hours because there were problems with the previous train and it took a long time to check it.

“After this wait at this place for another two hours and another stop, we reached the border of Poland,” Marsak continued. “There we also stayed for more than two hours, then another 40 minutes on the road and finally arrived at the border town of Przemysl at 9 p.m. turned out that all the trains to the city we needed to go to would only be in the morning. But at this station we met Jason, a volunteer from the UK. We are very grateful to him as he helped us find bus tickets and took us to Krakow by car, after that we traveled overnight by bus from Krakow to Torun.

However, Marsak’s parents are still in Kyiv and the skater also has many relatives in Kherson⁠, a city in southern Ukraine, which is currently occupied by Russian forces.

“I speak on the phone with my parents every day,” he said, “but in Kherson, the Russian occupiers cut off the Internet connection and it’s really difficult to contact relatives there.”

Prior to the attack, the skater was preparing for the Junior Worlds, but chaos and explosions caused Marsak and his family to seek refuge at any moment. He competed ahead of the Junior Worlds at the 2022 European Youth Olympic Festival (EYOF) in Vuokatti, Finland, where he finished in 15th place.

“After the EYOF, I trained for a week to prepare for the Junior Worlds,” he said. “One week just wasn’t enough and I wasn’t ready for this competition. I skated my program without a triple Axel and fell into a spin. This was not how I used to skate, but because of the war I found myself in the same position as many other Ukrainian skaters and athletes. But I have one more chance to perform at the Junior Worlds this year and I will do my best.

In June, Marsak attended a training camp in Perunka, Finland with the Mayer-Virtanen team under coach Alina Mayer-Virtanen. He is still working with his main trainer, Dmitry Shkidchenko, via Viber since Shkidchenko is still in Kyiv. Like many other skaters in his position, he is crowdfunding to raise funds to pay for his training and competitions.

“I plan to stay here to train next season,” he revealed. “I have good conditions here and there is an opportunity to prepare well for next season. I have free ice time and I am very grateful to Valtter Virtanen and Alina Mayer-Virtanen for the opportunity and the It is very important for me, because I am alone in Finland and I cannot pay for my own education because my online studies at Kyiv University will start again in September.

This season, Adam Solya choreographed a new free skate for Marsak to music by star wars soundtrack: “Across the stars”, “Imperial March (Anakin’s Suffering)” and “Duel of the Fates” by John Williams and Samuel Kim.

“I had wanted to do this program for several seasons! Marsak said. “In the first half of this program, I represent Anakin Skywalker, who is always on the light side of the force. In the second half of the program, Darth Vader has already turned to the dark side of the force. In the first half of the program (both parts are played on the piano), Anakin has finally reunited with his love Padme, so in this half of the program the music is calmer and all the movements are soft. But the “Imperial March” highlights the fall Anakin’s impending dark side. In the second half of the program, the composition ‘Duel of the Fates’ is taken as the basis where aggression and the ‘dark side of the force’ are clearly audible and all movements are sharper. I will try to show Darth Vader, since according to the canon of star wars in episode 6, he returned to the light side at the end of the program. I will try to convey the fact that he has returned to the light side of the force and the last movements will be that I have, so to speak, “removed the mask”.

“I love everything about this program,” he said. “From start to finish, all the transitions, the arrangement of elements and movements…I think this is my best program of all. Initially, I was really not ready to show all the idea that I had before. Second, the idea of ​​creating a program for star wars it was a long time ago, a few seasons ago, because I’m a very big fan of star wars and it is the compositions of this film that I feel the most. But I only found those parts of the melody under which the program is now defined last season.

As mentioned, the skater had wanted to create this program for several seasons, but was not mentally ready to show the idea and felt that he first needed to improve his skating skills, transitions, etc.

“I really enjoyed working with Adam Solya on this program,” summarized Marsak. “He’s an amazing choreographer and a person with so many ideas. I hope we’ll work more in the future!

The skater will keep his short program from last season with “Runaway” by the English group The Overtones which was choreographed by Oleksii Oliinyk.

“There is still room to grow with this program and so we have made minor changes and reworked the stage sequence due to the new ISU rules,” he explained.

Marsak’s first competition is at the Junior Grand Prix Riga Cup in Latvia early next month and hopes to make a Challenger Series event for his senior international debut.

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