November 19, 2009
Hello everyone! I wanted to update you all on what I've been up to recently. I will begin this at the end of August. I've taken on a new project working with a newly formed pair team in Milan Italy. His name is Onderj Hotarek and her name is Stefania Berton. They came to the states in August as we worked in Lake Placid for the month. In September we went to Milan Italy where I have been most of the time since. Our goal of making the national team was achieved back in September and now we are focusing on the Nationals. He is from the Czek Republic and she is Italian. We are hoping of course to qualify for the Olympics but Europeans and worlds will be just fine for right now. I found out that working as a coach is not easy as the responsibility is quite a lot. But at the same time it's fun to impart the knowledge I've gained onto to others with your own twist to it. I am constantly thinking of how my coaches in the past and especially Tamara Moskvina would have done it. I called her one day and mentioned to her how difficult I probably was for her, she laughed. We reminisced about the past and then in a snap, she had to go on the ice and teach!
Silvia and I are also still skating strong and doing several shows. The big three of course were the "Disson" shows we skated last month in Oct and Nov, all on NBC. The Halloween show, Skating and Gymnastics and Smokey Robinson Tribute. These were amazing to skate in and was happy to finally be there skating with my wife. I got to do a number with Nastia Lukin in which Todd Eledredge and I passed her off to one another on the ice. It was similar to what I did with Sasha Cohen in Stars on Ice with Michael Weiss and Patrice Lausanne. I was a bit nervous of course for that one! Skating in Scott Hamilton's Cares gala in Cleveland was a highlight for us as this was the tenth anniversary and his triumphant comeback….which he is so famous for! Cheaptrick and Brook White were the guest artists and they impressed a packed house of like 8,000 people! To find out more about the Cleveland clinic and Scott cares program you must check out www.Scottcares.org it's worth the visit!
Silvia has made huge leaps of success with her new karisma sport wear line! We sold many items at regional's in our home rink in Hackensack and have started landing various accounts across the country and in Italy. We now have our line in places like Central park Wolman rink, The rinks in Long island, Newark Ohio, Tampa Florida, St Louis Mo. Birmingham Al. West palm Beach (coming soon) and several in Italy. In Milan we actually sold out in 24 hours at a store at Agora…and they re-ordered three times in one month! So cool! We are thrilled with the reception of the Karisma line and excited to reach out to as many people as we can. We also supplied the flower sweeper costumes for skate America this year! So much to do with karisma!
We have also decided to make a move from Hackensack! Silvia and I are going to be relocating to a brand new facility in West Palm Beach Fl. The rink is called Palm Beach ice Works. Check it out at www.PBIW.org it's a state of the art facility boasting an Olympic size ice rink. There is also a studio rink for public and learn to skate classes. We are planning the move between the times of February and May, depending of course on our schedules. Don Laws, (Scott Hamilton's coach) my former coach back in the days of my training in Atlanta GA (for a minute). suggested Silvia and I join in this new endeavor and we were thrilled at the opportunity.
Stay in touch with us and I will write again soon.
All the best!.........................jz
April 27, 2009
Yes..I know it's been a while and so much has gone on since my last journal. I need to keep them updated more often. I will work on this. In the meantime here I am now.
I just finished my seventh season with Stars On Ice. What a time I had. I have to say this year was especially memorable because I went out as a solo. Skating alone presented so many new challenges I had not faced as a pair skater and was a real rush I haven't experienced in a while. As a pair skater I was comfortable pushing the limits and knew how to handle the challenges presented to me. As a solo, I faced new peaks and valleys throughout the tour for the first time. It was cool going out there and having a relationship with the audience as a solo …a real one on one experience…but I have to be honest…when things didn't go well for me it was really difficult. Popping jumps or simply making stupid mistakes in footwork and such was hard and I could not "hide" or cover up anything, I felt somewhat exposed to everyone. I worked through these moments though with the encouragement of Silvia and my cast mates.
I was selected in the middle of the tour to participate in a trip to Jordan! I have been involved with an organization called "Right To Play" since 2002. It's a humanitarian organization using sport to improve the lives of children in developing and third world countries. They use sport to improve life skills, decision-making and health issues. They also work with coaches to improve their knowledge on how to implement the programs right to play offers. This organization is supported in several countries around the world and has the backing of UNICEF and many governmental agencies.
Two days after tour I went to Jordan for a nine-day mission. The state department also sponsored this trip so we also had a cultural exchange as part of the project. We mostly were in a town called Aqaba, which is in the southern part of the country on the Red Sea. We visited several schools and worked with many of the teachers and children through out the day. We actually played games created by Right to Play that would teach them cooperation, communication, tolerance and inclusion, all foundational skills important to the development of children.
We also took two days to visit some famous sights there such as Petra. This was an ancient city that flourished as a trading post for the caravans that would pass on their way to Mecca and elsewhere. We also over nighted in the desert of Wadi Rum. We lived in tents and rode camels.
Finally I am with my wife in Italy. We are working with the local club to help produce a small show and working to launch Silvia's new clothing line for athletes. This new project is called KARISMA! On the next journal I will get in more details about it. In the meantime have a great spring and I will be back soon!!
Ps. check out www.righttoplay.com
January 14, 2009
Well...after ten flights in eight weeks criss crossing most of the planet I finally have a little time to catch up all on what's been happening in JZ's world!
Right before I left for the U.S. and Stars on Ice rehearsals, I left with Elena B. to do one a show in Tyumen, Russia. It's an oil rich town that's in the middle of Siberia.... pretty cool...or rather interesting I would say! It was great because Silvia was there too, one of the precious few times we get to do big shows together. After the show, it was a party with all the skaters in the hotel lobby(as usual) until it was time to catch our flights home at 5 AM...getting too old for the all nighters. Silvia once again was off to Italy and I was off to Lake Placid! I was home for about a day to re-pack, check mail, pay bills, and eat at my favorite places. Being in Placid was great as all skaters and crew reconnected once again not missing a beat from last season!
The rehearsals were hard, long and intense. But it's what we love to do and after being on so many different shows in the world it was great being with friends and being once again on a first rate skating show…Smucker's Stars on Ice! This years tour will be all about skating in its simplest form. Can't even describe it to you now. We did our first show on the 29th of Nov. to an energetic crowd. We were all pleased with how the show turned out. I left for home right after for a 41/2 hour trip to sleep a couple of hours to then take a flight back to Russia so I could finish the last couple of weeks of the Russian TV show.
I made it back with hours to spare before the taping that same day. I was ready to learn the new program that my friend Artur Dmitriev worked with her but the producer felt it better that she just skate with him. I was Ok with that. Not really very happy because I could have taken an extra day to come back and not risk driving tired from Placid for all that. Anyway, I fumed a bit for a couple of days then got right back into work. We did a few more competitions and were sort of tapped out of new things to learn. We started the competition too advanced and should have taken our time through out the competition. But you...I told the choreographers this and they insisted to start very strong from the beginning...oh well..what do I know?? We coasted a bit the last week or two. We were working more on the acting side of the performance. We also worked with using the cables in the routines for one week. All celebrities had to be hoisted up and choreographed in a routine with it on. Kind of silly if you ask me and VERY difficult to master in one week from either one of us. It turned out OK in my opinion. I think you can still find all these on YouTube if you click on one of the old links on my website.Fykloa and I ended our wonderful skating relationship in fourth place with Elena B. coming in second with her partner singing Dima Beland and my friend Gwendal Pizerat winning the competition...deservedly so!
The very next day I was off to Milan to skate with my wife Silvia in an outdoor ice rink with a friend of ours from France Laurent Tobel. The show was outside in a town called Verese. It was shaped like a "race track" with a huge fountain in the middle! It was the strangest thing I had ever thought of skating on. The width of the rink was about 15 feet wide and all four straights were about 60 seat long! We even skated our pair number on it and was separated at opposite ends for a bit. I think it was interesting for the people to see it. We also did shows in Brescia (near Milano) two others I can't remember the name of and two in Rome on New years Eve and New years days! Silvia and I spent our Christmas time with her Mother and Brother this time. It was so nice to be home in Italy having a home cooked meal for a change.! We also played cards for hours...which is something I think we are losing in society a bit...the quality time and conversation with each other. There were no video games no computers...maybe the TV....but that was it! Maybe with this financial crises people will begin staying home more and doing things that don't require so much money. These simple things in life are important.
We did a few more outdoor shows or as dubbed them the (Shovel Snow Shows) because one time we arrived at a mall and there was a foot of snow on it! We had to do this show quickly cause Silvia had to be back in town for a show in Milan with Evgeny Plushenko! So...Silvia and I took some shovels and helped the two people out by clearing the ice so we could skate on it. The ice is usually really bad and this was the worst. There was one bump on the ice literally 8-9 inches tall. At least it was off to the side and not a real problem. Some rinks had cracks down to the ground that you could actually see the bottom!!! Can you say lawsuit???? oh yeah!! No one got hurt and we got to spend so much time together!
I took off for Japan "THE J" on the 7th of Jan. We just got done playing Osaka for three days to sold out crowds! They were the greatest fans...I even had a sign up with my name.....which blew me away! Had a bit of a slow start coming out of the gates as a solo in Osaka. I am still learning the program and trying to get comfortable doing the axel in lights again. It's very different skating alone as I have too much time to think were as in pairs I was always looking at someone. I love it though and the people really support my solo endeavor.
It's hard to take a lot of time between journals and try to tell you everything. But I think I did ok....I will write the next one sooner! We are in Tokyo now with four days rest then two shows. We are now either golfing or resting or shopping. I am simply resting this time. Not doing anything for a couple of days is what this body needs. Will update you soon as we head towards the US tour starting in Spokane Washington! I will try to attach photos of the crazy skates adventures so you can see what I am talking about! Come see me and all the skaters on Smucker's Stars on Ice…it is a great show and would love you to see it live!
November 3, 2008
The American pairs influence continues to infiltrate Russian TV! Hello to all!
Let's just consider myself lucky to be able to still compete in this show this week. Ever since i agreed to do this TV show I have been sort of behind the eight ball. After I returned to the USA for a week or so to get ready to go back to Russia i got a call from the producers saying they needed me right away without delay. They wanted me to be back in three days. so in order to get this done i needed a visa i could get in three days. i got one and here i am. it only lasted one month though. i had to renew it again two other times since then. the fun part of this story happened last week when my visa was about to expire once again the day before the show was to air Sunday OCT 26. The show was to air OCT 27th. This set off a day of confusion in the office where three administrators were trying to find a consulate in another country for me to renew my visa. You see, I can't renew it in Russia so i actually have to leave the country to apply for a new one. How backwards is this system! We were all in the office calling Germany, Italy, Finland, Ukraine, Latvia. No one was either there or it was closed. I had to leave that day(Thursday) too in order to get back in time to be here for the show Monday. my last and best option was to return to the united states. That meant for me to leave later that night from Moscow.
I bought a ticket on the only ticket i could get at that last minute. I flew Air France to Paris got there 12 midnight and spent the night at a hotel. the next morning I took the first flight out to JFK. We left late of course as we finally departed. That was going to get me in JFK at 11AM. that left me 11/2 hours to get to Manhattan and the Russian consulate. If you know NYC traffic that was leaving me to panic. I was the first one off the plane as i bolted through immigration. I found my driver who was waiting for me there at baggage claim. He started running with me to his car as I told him he had to "drive his car like he stole it"! We got there to the consulate where i had called ahead to have the documents ready Thanks to a brilliant lady named Tamara with Ari tours!! I gave them my passport and proper papers. i spent a few hours in NYC having great NYC pizza at one of my students Italian restaurants. Then I met my agent and signed my contracts for stars on ice in the car i had hired to take me around town for the few hours i was going to spend there. Got all that done went back to the consulate picked up my new visa and headed back to the airport to catch my flight that night back to Moscow! PHEW! Eight hours in NYC! i got back the next afternoon and practiced myself for an hour then with Fyokla for 5 hours!
All was good and we skated our program to a first place performance that week! just another fun week being a silly ice skater!
I finally had time in NYC to process a multi entry visa so i don"t have to go through something like that again. It was exactly like being on "The Amazing Race" which is the ultimate reality show Silvia and I want to be in so bad! That is our next goal for us so i feel i got a good education on running through airports and thinking way ahead!
Really looking forward to being in Lake Placid in November for Stars rehearsals and some good American food! the anticipation for the tour is really brewing for all skaters. We all talk on the phone to each other about the tour and can"t wait to get this thing going again.
Let me know what you think about all these stories? This website is for yall.....i want to make it more interesting for everybody! if you have ideas let me know. i am open to anything!
I will talk to yall soon! don't forget to check out the links to YouTube on the Russian TV show.
October 8, 2008
Wow....what a crazy six months this has been! first of all I want to thank you for taking the time to stay updated with me and to find out whats happens next! maybe i should give you a timeline of events?
1. Stars tour ends in April for Kyoko and me. We had a great season once again and a great tour with great friends. We so enjoyed our programs this past year but had a few accidents on a crazy move we call the fly high say bye. We were fine all in all but I think it took a lot out of the little "K". We thought it best to take some good time off and take stock in all we were doing in our careers.
2. I stayed busy with my wife Silvia as we taught a lot and prepared ourselves for the upcoming season.
3. Sil and I took off for Courmyere, Italy for three weeks in July to teach the kids there. We brought a couple of our own students too! It was a magical place and we worked and trained hard. The kids in Italy were so much fun to teach and I finally got a chance to work on my Italian that needed desperate attention! Silvia and I plan to go back on a regular basis.
4. One week after Italy we went to Lake Placid, NY to work with kids there and skate in the weekly show where Sil and I got to skate our pair number! It was a blast. Lake Placid has such great energy!
5. We then were invited by our friends in Canada (Jen Robinson and Steven Cousins) to skate in the Mariposa Gala! Once again Sil and I skated our pairs number. While there I talked with Kyoko on the phone about our future. She felt that she needed a break from the tour as she has many things going on outside of the sport and was not feeling she could wrap herself into preparing for another season. Steven Cousins suggested I try out with Elena Berizshnia. I called her up to see if she would be interested in a try out. she said yes and in one weeks time I was in St. Petersburg trying out with her and skating with my coach Tamara Moskvina! Lots of memories...Very cool! Since we come from the same "school" it didn't take too long at all to put together some tricks and a program! While there we went to Moscow as she was starting to work with CH. 2 Russia TV on there version of skating with celebrities. The producers of the show saw us skate and asked if I would be interested in skating in the show. I thought it would be an interesting project and agreed to participate. I thought while there I can skate with Elena and do some side projects with her.
6. After the trip to Russia for the tryout I was invited by Mike Weiss to skate a solo number at his very successful Mike Weiss Foundation show in Sept. It was my first time skating a single number and had a fantastic time. My nerves were through the roof being my first time in years skating with out a partner. I am working very hard to keep the singles up and stay in good shape for future projects.
7. All this was happening while I was talking with IMG and Stars on Ice about still staying with the tour for the up coming season. We came to an agreement were I can leave the Russian TV project for two weeks in November to attend rehearsals for STARS. I am happy that these events are happening but I have to say it's been way fast but interesting all the same.
8. Right now I am skating with Fyokla Tolstoy. Fyokla is the great granddaughter of Leo Tolstoy. the famous author of "War and Peace" and "Anna Karinina". Fyokla is a TV show host here in Russia and has a lifestyle radio show. we have been having a great time working together and it shows on her part as she loves to practice practice practice! You can check out some of the performances on you tube under our names or go to Russia TV Channel 2. But be kind to us!!
9. Silvia is very busy traveling all over the world doing several skating projects here in Europe and in a couple of Disson shows that will air on NBC this fall. We did get to skate in the same show this past month in The Czech Republic as I skated with Elena B. it was Elena's and my first outing together as a team! we had about 8 hours of skating time together and it turned out pretty well. Silvia has also taken part in an on going project in Italy called Winx on Ice. It's a childerens fiction show put to ice and tours all over italy for the whole fall and winter until Jan 6th. in between she will focus on variuos skating projects.
I will be sending photos of these events and future diaries and photos as well.
I look forward to working on my new website and invite you all to check out what is happening with me, Silvia, Elena B. Kyoko and Stars on Ice! All the best to you!