Full name: Maria Andreevna Leonova (Мария Андреевна Леонова). My Mom and Dad are both from Moscow, Russia. The family came to Tampa in 1992. I am bilingual and I love foreign languages. I study Spanish and French at school.
Birth date: November 17, 1992.
Birthplace: Tampa, Florida, U.S.A.
Started Skating: my sister Katya and I started skating when I was 5 and I felt very important doing something together with my big sister. The competition with Katya has always been a huge drive for me to do my best and keep pace with her. Figure skating is not just a very demanding sport, but also a way to express yourself on the ice, act and perform under pressure.
Home Club: Tampa Bay Skating Club, Florida.
Training at: There are no rinks in Tampa, so I have had to master my in-car sleeping and homework prep skills going to Kissimmee (85 miles one way), Oldsmar (40 min), Ellenton (50 min), and Brandon (20 min). My parents are ready for their racing careers.
Coaches and Choreographers: For many years I worked with Andrei and Tonia Berekhovski (Kissimmee, FL). I have been fortunate to train with Alexei Mishin and Rafael Arutyunian for short periods of time. My parents and sister Katya, who has quit competitive skating after an ankle injury in 2005 and two corrective surgeries, have also been a positive influence for me.
In 2007-2009 U.S. Figure Skating qualifying events I compete as a Junior Lady.
Goals for the 2008-2009 figure skating season:
My double axel, all my triple jumps and the triple toe - triple toe combination will have to become more consistent. I will improve the overall quality of all skating elements and choreography of my current programs. My biggest challenge this year is to work out an effective system of combining my junior high school with competitive figure skating.
School: Berkeley Preparatory School in Tampa, Florida. Freshman in 2007/2008.
Graduation Year: 2011
Educational Awards: I don't want to brag, but I am a pretty good student and I need to make a note of the awards somewhere - for my college application. I have received top scholar book award in Spanish (2005), science Olympiad awards (2005/6/7), Latin forum state and regional awards (2005/6/7), state mythology exam awards (2005/6), stock market game state team award, Junior national honor society member, fine arts award for outstanding contribution to the school fine arts department, presidential physical fitness awards (1998-2007), coach’s award as a member of the school track team.
Languages: I am bilingual in English and Russian. We mostly speak Russian at home. I also study Spanish and French.
Volunteer Work: I volunteer at skating competitions at local rinks and at learn-to-skate programs. I really enjoyed volunteering as part of my school’s community service project at the Headstart school for underprivileged children. My school supports a variety of projects like helping a school in Dominican Republic. We have raised funds and collected food and other items for charities, natural disasters’ victims and done other community service projects.
TV show: America’s Next Top Model
Movie: Father of the Bride
Books: "The Giver" by Lois Lowry and Dan Brown's books
Web Sites: Berkeley Prep, YouTube
Food: Anything delicious. I love food!
Drink: Black currant juice
Hobbies: reading, foreign languages, traveling, skiing, wake boarding, and playing with my baby brother
Friends in figure skating: my sister Katya; Kristine Musademba, Leslieann Alasagas, Kaitlyn Steward, Sigrid Young, Angela Maxwell, Mackenzie Jackson, Derek Delmore’s mother (her bright smile always helps me at competitions). I think it is very important to have friends in skating, since it is not a team sport and you are on your own when you compete. It is great to have your friends support you and cheer you up. For me an important part of every competition is meeting my friends from all over and spending time with them.
Not everybody knows about me: I get really excited discussing science concepts and projects, I love debating and I can make delicious quesadillas.
My biggest life defining moment has been: I started looking at life differently when my baby brother was born. He is almost 11 years younger and he has brought new meaning into my life, new responsibilities and new joy. He even influenced the attitude to my skating – I felt I had to work harder and do better, since it is not easy for my family with 4 kids to support my skating. When my sister Katya who had been skating for the most part of her life broke her ankle and had to have two surgeries, I felt so sorry for her and tried to do better for the both of us. I think that starting high school this year is going to be a life defining challenge which I am hoping I will be able to handle. When last year I got through Regionals and Sectionals to Nationals I was so happy! It was a huge life-defining moment for my skating and my whole life.
Injuries and hardships: I fractured my spine in 2004. It was a serious injury that set me back a lot. I had to stop skating for a while, undergo physical therapy and give up doing some things on ice, which I used to be quite good at, like the bielman spin with a really good extension, deep laybacks and the like. The doctors say it is never going to heal completely, so I still have to deal with pain from time to time and use caution. In the 2007 skating season I have been fighting a stress fracture in my right foot. It has been getting worse since the summer and I had hard time competing at the Regionals and Sectionals.
If I could meet a currently living celebrity, sports figure, politician or other famous individual, who would it be and why?
I have been always wondering if I was related to the Russian astronaut Alexei Leonov who did the the first open space walk. Few people were capable of daring to do something like that, so meeting him seems quite intriguing to me. My brothers adore Rafael Nadal, so it would be cool to meet him, have a nice chat and hit some balls with him, maybe we could teach him something too – my baby brother’s reverse forehand will be a killer! As far as politicians go, I could help out at a summit between the American and Russian presidents. I would also like to meet Hugh Grant and let him know that I strongly disagree with his character’s remark in the recent movie “Music and Lyrics” that “Nobody grows up in Florida... unless you are an orange.”
Single athletes, couples, or groups perform jumps, spins, intricate footwork and other choreographic elements on ice.
Figure skaters compete at various levels from beginner up to the Olympic level, and at local, Regional, Sectional, National, and international events. Figure skating is the most watched event in any Winter Olympic Games.
In most languages figure skating on ice is usually referred to by a name that translates as "artistic skating".
Figure skating is a very dramatic sport. All major competitions include exhibitions with the top-placing skaters performing their show programs for the crowd. There are many ice skating exhibitions and shows all over the world.
Singles: this is the most popular discipline of figure skating on ice. Men and women ("ladies") perform fantastic elements, which include various triple and quadruple jumps, mind bending spins and complicated forms of footwork artfully choreographed to instrumental music clips.
Pair skating teams consist of a woman and a man. Skaters perform jumps and spins in unison, spectacular throw jumps and lifts above the man's head.
Ice dancing is also for couples. Ice dancers focus on intricate high-speed footwork performed in close dance holds. Lifts must not go above the man's head.
Synchronized skating, for mixed-gender groups of up to 20 skaters. This discipline resembles a group form of ice dance with emphasis on precise formations of the group as a whole and complex transitions between formations.
Fours team consists of two men and two women who perform singles and pairs elements in unison as well as unique elements that involve all four skaters.
Theatre on ice, aka "ballet on ice". This is a form of group skating that is less structured than synchronized skating and allows the use of props, theatrical costuming and all kinds of music.
Adagio skating, a form of pair skating most commonly seen in ice shows, where the skaters perform many spectacular acrobatic lifts but few or none of the singles elements which competitive pairs must perform.
Acrobatic skating, aka "Acrobatics on ice" or "Extreme Skating", is a combination of circus arts, technical artistic gymnastics skills, and figure skating. Acrobatic skating merges the best of many sporting worlds into an exciting spectacle.
The sport of figure skating continues to evolve as does the judging system, which shapes this sport.