Love on Wheels: A Story of Skates, Training, and a love that Transcends BordersMar 07, 2022
by ICP Examiner Natalia Santamaria
In September 2018 I was the host and examiner of a level 1 ICP certification program. It was an international program with students coming from Portugal, Spain, Germany and Ukraine. I was quite surprised, because Kiev is around 3500km away from Burgos, the city which the program was going to be held.
All of those who have gone through a Level 1 know how intense and hard the weekend is, which also helps creating the most amazing bonds between those who attend the program. It’s literally a bond created by sweat, tears and blood, with a passion for skating which helps you push through, and one which lasts forever.
It was in this program where I met, the fierce Irina, an Ukrainian inline instructor based in Kiev who wanted to keep on learning and improving to offer more quality to her students, and José, a German instructor, who wanted to get better at his teaching skills and have a better knowledge of the teaching process applied to skating.
I still remember Jose calling me on Monday morning to have a coffee, he wanted to thank me for an amazing weekend, and also told me he had decided to leave Burgos one day ahead because he wanted to visit Madrid and later, and thanks to social media, I began to realize that Jose and Irina were in the same locations on her posts on Instagram. Was it possible? Maybe we had a new couple which connection had started in the program. My curiousity got the best of me and I couldn’t stop myself, and I directly asked Irina. And she confirmed it. They were crazy in love with each other!
It had all begun in Burgos. Jose had left a day before to spend some more time with Irina in Madrid before she had to take her flight. A grand romantic gesture!
The following year I had both in the last Level 2 program we could held in person before Covid hit us, it was September 2019, and it was so cool to see them both work hard towards the certification, pure magic on wheels.
During these years we have kept in touch through social media, mostly with Irina who is more active on social media, watching her teaching her kids, sharing that passion, skating in Germany, doing the Berlin Marathon, etc.
Please notate "For Jose & Irina"
But at the end of January, Ukraine was all over the news, and I was sick worried, Irina was in Kiev, and I knew she couldn’t leave because she has close family she couldn’t leave. I talked to her via WhatsApp and offered help my house, but she really thought Putin wouldn’t dare to invade Ukraine. Waking up to war on the 24th of February, I got in touch again, I knew she didn’t want to flee the country, but I phoned her and begged her to leave, take her girls and come to Spain.
I had it all planned in my head, she could teach in my skating school, and we will take it from there. Of course fierce Irina, an Ukrainian, from head to toe, a fighter, she wouldn’t give up. She told me she was with Jose and that he had flown in to support her. They were living in the corridor (living in the hallway of the apartment), only entering their apartment to charge phones and laptops. She wasn’t leaving. Finally, however, yesterday she made an update on the whatsapp group of the Level 1 program and said that they had finally decided to leave Kiev. It took them two full days travelling without sleeping to make it to the Polish border- no sleeping, no eating, no shower, no drinking, no toilets. They arrived to Krakow, and could buy tickets on bus which will take them to Bonn in a 24 hours trip, they are safe, tired, exhausted…but safe.. So far their plan is to live in Dusseldorf, but she wants to go back to Kiev, Ukrainian from head to toe. She wants to go back home.
They left with a backpack each… everything else was left behind, including their most precious treasures, their skates. Irina and Jose are prolific skaters, roller skates, inline, ice figure skating, inline figure skating. Now they won’t be able to skate because they don’t have any skates! I have offered economical support, house… and as I said, she is Ukrainian, fierce, proud, a warrior, she wants to stand on her own two feet. I know it might seem unimportant, skates but I know getting them skates will bring them peace, it’s a small thing, but we can make it happen.
Donations in the name of Jose & Irina can be made to the ICP Skate Aid International. All funds collected will go directly to help support them to make a new life on and off skates!
Please notate "For Jose & Irina"