Viktoria Kavaliova and Yurii Bieliaiev were on borrowed blades.
The ice dancers from Belarus had to use someone else’s skates for Thursday night’s short dance at the World Figure Skating Championships after their luggage was lost in transit. And not just any skates, mind you. Bieliaiev was wearing singles skates, something he hasn’t done since he was "5 or 6 years old."
"We are very glad we were able to skate at all," Kavaliova said. "We’re pleased at how we were able to perform in light of all that happened."
The dancers had planned to leave their home in Minsk on Sunday, but visa issues pushed their departure back. Then a snowstorm shut down the Frankfurt airport, where they were supposed to connect. They finally arrived in London early Wednesday, only to discover that their luggage hadn’t yet left Europe.
When volunteers heard of Kavaliova and Bieliaiev’s plight, they quickly pitched in to help. Paul Moir, uncle of Olympic and world dance champion Scott Moir, offered to let Kavaliova use his daughter’s skates. Sheri Moir used to be a dancer, and the Canadian maple leaf was clearly visible on Kavaliova’s heel as she skated.
Bieliaiev was a little tougher. The 6-foot-4 dancer wears a size 14 skate, not exactly a size most rinks would have extras of stored in the back. Fortunately for him, former Canadian pairs skater Adam Johnson does, and he’s a volunteer this week.
It wasn’t an ideal solution; singles blades are longer than those used by ice dancers, and they also have a toe pick at the front.
But it was better than the alternative.
"We our very happy we were able to skate," Kavaliova said. "That we were able to overcome everything and compete."
Kavaliova and Bieliaiev finished last and did not qualify for Saturday’s free dance.