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It's work, work, work for the Zaretskis

Israeli brother-and-sister duo try to keep up with coach Chait

Alexandra and Roman Zaretski finished in the top 10 at worlds last season for the first time.
Alexandra and Roman Zaretski finished in the top 10 at worlds last season for the first time. (Getty Images)

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By Lois Elfman, special to icenetwork.com
(07/31/2008) - When icenetwork.com caught up with Israeli ice dancers Alexandra Zaretski and Roman Zaretski, the sister-brother duo were in Moscow sharing ice time with two Russian teams -- Jana Khokhlova and Sergei Novitski and Ekaterina Rubleva and Ivan Shefer. They arrived on July 1 for a three-week stay at the Russian Olympic training complex in Novogorsk.

"The facilities here are amazing," said Roman, 24. He and sister Alexandra, 20, are old friends with the two Russian teams. "My room is located two-minutes walk from the ice rink. It's all about training. We wake up, we eat here and we go skate. We finish skating and go to off-ice training. Then we eat and go to sleep. You concentrate on just practicing. There is no driving, no shopping, nothing -- just constant, constant training.

"Mentally, it's not easy, but it's not for so long. It's like a summer camp -- getting back into the scene, getting back into shape."

The Zaretskis' coach, former Israeli ice dance champion and three-time Olympian Galit Chait, accompanied them on the trip. They can't spend too much time in Russia, because she is getting married in August and must return to New Jersey (where they usually train) to attend to the final details for her wedding.

Choreography for next season is already complete. The original dance is a combination of blues and Charleston, created by Chait and the Zaretskis. The music is "Summertime" and "Fosse." "I love the original dance this year," said Roman.

Tatiana Tarasova worked with them on the free dance, set to music from Jesus Christ Superstar. The Zaretskis see it as a historical reflection of Israel, where their family has lived for almost 17 years. Their mother, Yelena, teaches skating in Metulla, Israel.

In 2008, the Zaretskis had their first top-10 finishes at both Europeans and worlds. He said they don't feel any different, but of course, they are pleased.

"We keep working the same -- hard," he said. "We don't really talk about it. We just try to do our best and get the best placement. There is no, 'This year we're going to get top 10 in the world' or 'This year we're going to get a medal.' We just work."

There was no ice dancing in Israel before Chait and former partner Sergei Sakhnovsky competed. Roman remembers the couple coming to visit them in Metulla in 1995 and playing video games with Sakhnovsky.

"Galit was the explorer, the first, and thanks to her, people are looking for us," he said. "I know she will want the best for us. I know that she will do anything it takes to take us to another level, to make us succeed."

There has been a definite passing of the torch to them and expectations that go with that. Chait carried the Israeli flag in the Opening Ceremonies of the last two Olympic Winter Games. In all likelihood, Roman will carry that flag in Vancouver.

"I hope so," he said. "She already passed the torch to us. We're trying to keep up because it's really hard to keep up with her.

"When we wake up to go to practice and we're barely breathing, we look outside the window and Galit is already running outside. We have to keep up."