Unlikely pair smash their way into ice skating dance
By Nick Cheshire
After eight months of dedicated practice at the ION International Training Center in Leesburg, an unlikely pair of 18-year-old Nikita Sosnenko and 15-year-old Harlow Stanley have blossomed into a talented junior ice-skating dance team with plenty of potential.
Just eight months ago, Sosnenko, a Ukrainian native and longtime resident, moved to the United States to pursue the opportunity to train with top coaches and talent from around the world here in the Loudun County. A skater since the age of four, he switched from free skating to ice dancing at the age of 13. He saw the move to the United States and the chance to skate with Stanley as “an opportunity to become a great team”.
Stanley, born in Denver where she spent the first part of her childhood, moved to Loudoun County nearly 10 years ago. A skater since the age of four like her partner, she only recently switched from free skating to ice dancing, around the time Sosnenko moved to the area. Its Mexican heritage gives the team the distinction of representing Mexico in International Skating Union events.
“At first it was very difficult,” Stanley said. “There was a big difference in age and culture.”
They attend Riverside High School in Lansdowne, and despite their differences, the two have a lot in common. Sosnenko is working to learn Spanish, which will be his fourth language, while Stanley is a member of the Hispanic Honor Society. They also both love loud music and bike rides, but most importantly, they both love their sport and are committed to giving it their best every day.
Thanks to WISA Ice Dance Academy and coaches Elena Novak and Alexie Kiliakov, Sosnenko and Stanley have been working since late 2021 to build their team chemistry, on and off the ice. Having many coaches from diverse backgrounds and different countries has benefited the team.
“They have different views,” Sosnenko said. “They help us fix things in different ways.”
Both credit much of what they have learned not just to the coaches, but to the teams and the entire WISA organization at the ION training facility.
“We have the opportunity to train with so many amazing teams at ION,” Sosnenko said.
The team began competing in May, with its first competition taking place in Mexico. Now they are preparing for an international competition in Dallas in July, where they will be the only Latin American team on the field. These competitions culminate with the ISU Grand Prix in late August, a prestigious series of events that runs until December, where Sosnenko and Stanley hope to shine on the biggest stage.
The sport has given both skaters a lifetime experience they can learn from and be proud of, with lessons that apply not just to ice dancing, but to life. “This sport not only requires skill, but you need to be able to communicate,” Stanley said. “You have to learn to adapt to different scenarios.”
Follow their journey on Instagram at @harlownikita_icedance. Nick Cheshire is a rising junior at Virginia Tech interning at Loudoun Now.