Father: Andrei Leonov, he is an international sales and marketing expert, trying to pay our family bills and offer moral support.
Mother: Elena, she is the best person in the world and I will always look up to her... All said.
Sister: Katya (born August 06, 1990); she is a Senior at Berkeley in 2007/2008. Extremely bright, a tough policy debater, Katya bosses me around in every opportunity she gets. Her figure skating career was interrupted by a bad ankle injury in 2005. She has started coaching and is very good at it. She had an opportunity to work with Mr. Alexei Mishin, a world renowned figure skating coach, who recognized her with a special Certificate. After competing in figure skating for many years she has no trouble appearing in front of a crowd of people and delivering an impressive impromptu speech. If a good college accepts her application she will become either a Secretary of State or a U.S. President Press Secretary, or both.
Brothers: Nikita (born September 02, 1995) is a very handsome young man and a good tennis player. In 2007 he finally became a straight "A" student and seems to have adopted my parents philosophy: "The measuring stick moves only one way in this family - up!".
Little Andrei was born on January 11, 2003. He is an extraordinary guy, who plays every sport and is very athletic. He calls himself Rafa to show that he prefers tennis and is getting ready to take up Roger Federer in the next few years. My favorite time of the day is when I take him to his pre-K class room in the morning.
My parents and my sister Katya were born in Moscow, Russia. My father is an 1987 graduate of the Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO) and a post grad of 1989. His degree is in international business and world economics. He moved the family to Tampa, FL on February 9, 1992 to set up the Western Hemisphere operations for a large Russian company.
My mother is a 1985 graduate of the Moscow Linguistics University and she had worked as an English teacher and an interpreter in Moscow. The original plan for the family was to go back to Moscow after 2 or 3 years but the rapid succession of economic changes in Russia, my father's jobs and partners have kept us in the U.S. Now, a family with 4 children we are still in Tampa.
“Well behaved women seldom make history.”
(From Katya's college application)
I was never a passionate feminist. I viewed society as a stagnant structure – patriarchy instituted since the beginning of time, lasting until the end of time. Gender protests were uncalled for; women’s rights activists were brainless. Perhaps, I was simply a product of the traditional belief system which was perpetuated by the principles my parents held in high regard. It was the day that I discovered Laurel Thatcher Ulrich’s renowned quotation that I really began to ponder my life in retrospect. “Well behaved women rarely make history.”
I was the girl who sat in the front of the classroom never speaking without raising my hand. I was the girl with the pristine hairstyle, perfectly polished shoes, and neatly filed fingernails. I was the girl with the ideal handwriting, the teacher’s pet – the epitome of well behaved, organized, genuine, and obedient. My mind was like a sponge, absorbing the abundant information around me. However, in a way, I was a failure: I accepted the world the way it was – flawed, imperfect, and all. I did not analyze or critique the philosophical ideas we learned in Religion, or the political ideologies in Government. Fear struck me. What would I accomplish if I didn’t start thinking for myself? Would I end up the trophy wife with two children, a house in the suburbs, and incredible cooking skills? Absolutely not.
Now, I look back and laugh at my previously ignorant self. Clearly I have changed. The very premise of the activity I have dedicated hours and hours to after school, policy debate, relies on retorting the ideas of others, refuting well constructed arguments, and defying conventional approaches with innovative ideas. Nothing against well-mannered, polite young ladies, but for me, making a difference relies on more than just a jumble of facts and stories compiled over the years. Instead, it rests on steering away from the traditional, thinking abstractly, expanding horizons, and ultimately never leaving a corner unlooked or a page unturned in the adventurous journey called life.
Nikita is a handsome young man with a sense of humor. He is a good tennis player and in 2007 he finally joined the Leonov Kids' Club and got straight A's in the first semester. We were very proud of him because he did it all by himself since the parents and his sisters have not helped him much at school. My parents decided not to hold him back for the pre-K class and he is the youngest kid in his grade. He always cracks us up with funny stories and sayings like "...Kids these days..." He seems to be liked by all his school friends who always invite him to their homes and give him unexpected presents. Once he got another cool T-shirt from a friend. Mom asks him, "what are you giving him in return?". Nikita shrugs his shoulders, smiles and says, "my friendship!"
Andrei is the most important guy in my life. Here is what he had to say for this page.
"I call Masha "Mashoul'ka" because I love her very much. She teaches me how to count and read when we play "Mrs. Kisses". She has taught me to play computer games. Mashoul'ka is the first one I come to in the morning for my hug. Sometimes on Saturdays I get up and come to her bed but she is already gone skating. Too bad! I climb up in her bed and fall asleep for a little bit.
Masha is the pre-K class favorite. When she takes me to my class in the morning she is greeted by all my school friends. She talks and plays with us and gives everybody a hug."
Sounds simple. A few years of practice and by age 10-12 (if you started at 5) most skaters learn how to do double jumps. Few can do triple jumps by age 14-16; and very few can do quads.
There are many types of jumps. Most skaters rotate all their jumps in the counterclockwise direction. Some rotate clockwise, and a very small number of skaters can perform jumps in both directions. The only skater I have seen do all triples in both direction was an outstanding U.S. skater Rohene Ward. I am strictly a counterclockwise skater and it is truly mind boggling for me to see Roheen perform his tricks.
Jumps are one of the most important parts of figure skating. In the new ISU judging system each jump, combination and sequence of jumps has been assigned a certain value. The more complicated jumps you have completed - the higher your score.
There are six major jumps in figure skating. All six are landed on one foot on the right back outside edge, but have different takeoffs, by which they may be distinguished. The two categories of jumps are toe jumps and edge jumps.
Toe jumps are launched by tapping the toe pick of one skate into the ice, and include (in order of difficulty from easiest to hardest):
Toe loops (invented in the 1920's by Bruce Mapes, an American professional show skater) take off from the back outside edge of the right foot and are launched by the left toe pick (toe walleys are similar, but take off from the back inside edge of the right foot);
Flips, which take off from the back inside edge of the left foot and are launched by the right toe pick;
Lutzes, which take off from the back outside edge of the left foot and are launched by the right toe pick. This jump was invented by an Austrian skater named Alois Lutz who first performed the jump in competition in 1913.
NB! If you take off from a back inside edge for the Lutz, the error is called a Flutz. If you take off from a back outside edge for the Flip jump, the error is called a Lip.
A couple of video clips about Flip, Flutz and Lip jumps performed by Alexei Yagudin and Yu-Na Kim, Shizuka Arakawa and Miki Ando:
Edge jumps use no toe assist, and include:
Salchows (invented by Ulrich Salchow in 1909), which take off from a left back inside edge. Allowing the edge to come round, the opposite leg helps launch the jump into the air and land on one foot;
Loops (aka Rittberger, after its inventor Werner Rittberger) take off from a right back outside edge and land on the same edge;
Axels, which are the only rotating jump to take off from a forward edge (the left outside edge). Since you take off from a forward edge, you have to do one-half extra rotation. That's why Axels are the hardest jumps. The similar jump with only half a rotation is called a waltz jump and is typically the first jump a skater learns.
Most elite male skaters perform triples and quads as their main jumps in the program, while most elite female skaters perform all the triples except the Axel, which is usually double. Only six female skaters have ever been credited as successfully landing the triple Axel in competition, and only one has landed a quadruple jump (salchow) in competition.
For a set of jumps to be considered a combination, each jump must take off from the landing edge of the previous jump, with no steps, turns, or change of edge in between jumps. This limits all jumps except the first to toe loops and loops (which take off from the right back outside edge on which the basic six jumps are landed). In order to use other jumps on the back end of a combination, connecting jumps such as a half loop (which is actually a full rotation, but lands on a left back inside edge) can be used, enabling the skater to put a salchow or flip at the end of the combination.
In contrast, jump sequences are sets of jumps which may involve steps or changes of edge between the jumps.
There are a few other jumps which are usually performed only as single jumps and in elite skating are used as transitional movements or highlights in step sequences. These include the half loop, half flip, walley jump, split jump, inside Axel, and one-foot Axel.