Send in the clowns. This Gold Medalist of Russia loves to incorporate comic routines into his skating performances, bringing laughter to the hearts of many. But if ever there was a clown serious about his art, Oleg Bliakhman, is one.
Born in the former USSR (now Russia) in the city of Gorkey (now Nigni Novgorod), Oleg started his skating career as all young skaters do in the Soviet Union, outside in a flooded rink in freezing temperatures. He skated with friends taking the Russian version of “group lessons” – free lessons, 4 hours per day, 6 days a week with teachers paid by the state.
By age 11, Oleg, and his brother, Dmitry, before him, were singled out and brought to a school/home for gifted athletes in Moscow. It was difficult to leave family and friends behind, but it was too great an opportunity to pass up.
Training with Natalia Dubova, and later Tatiana Tarasove and Ludmila Pakhomova, the Oleg made a steady ascent in the worlds of freestyle and dance. He was a silver medalist in the 1982 Junior World Championships and a year later captured the gold. In 1984 he won 2nd place in the USSR Championships and the bronze in the Winter Russia Cup of 1986. Later that same year he was Gold Medalist of Russia, 1986-1987.
After attending a sports college where he continued his training and studied skating education, Oleg launched his professional career with the Leningrad Ballet on Ice, where he met his wife, Tania Mihkailova, a fellow skater. They married in 1990 and continued their professional careers moving to Holiday on Ice in 1992, even after their son, Dennis, was born in 1994. It was during this period that Oleg began incorporating comic routines into his performances.
By the time Dennis was ready to enter school, Oleg and Tania were ready to settle down and put their resumes out to look for permanent teaching positions. Happily their credentials caught the eye of Michelle North and Genevieve Norante of the Essex Skating Club, and in 2001 they welcomed Oleg and Tania as Codey Arena house pros. Since then their family has grown. Daughter, Angelica, was born in 2005.
Today 50% of Oleg’s students are from Russian speaking families, but since he has mastered English, all of his students benefit from his years of experience, many of them achieving gold and silver medals in their own rights. “Oleg is one of our most frequently requested house pros,” say Codey Arena Manager, Anthony Molinaro, “ and we are delighted to have him.” Oleg teaches freestyle, moves in the field, dance choreography, and beginners’ hockey. He is a proud member of the USFSA, ISI and PSA.