Andreev is ready for nationals after three-year layoff

And he's got the help of rising dance star, Tessa Virtue

Tessa Virtue (left), dancing with Scott Moir, has helped Fedor Andreev with his choreography during his comeback to skating this year.
Tessa Virtue (left), dancing with Scott Moir, has helped Fedor Andreev with his choreography during his comeback to skating this year. (Getty Images)


Related Content Top Headlines
By Laurie Nealin, special to
(01/11/2008) - Fedor Andreev -- athlete, coach, model, race car driver -- has an uber fan in Tessa Virtue.

Andreev, 25, who will reappear at the Canadian Championships next week after a three-year hiatus, enlisted the choreographic services of the ice dancer-on-the-rise to whip his programs into shape on short notice last fall.

"Working with Fedor is just amazing. He's soooo talented," said Virtue, who, while paired with Scott Moir, is expected to win her first senior title next week in Vancouver. "Every time he takes the ice, I'm caught off-guard. His basic skating skills are amazing. I'm so impressed with his work ethic. I'm so proud of what he has accomplished already this season. I'm having a great time working with him."

Ironically, Andreev's mother and Virtue's coach, Marina Zoueva, did not have time to fit choreography work for her son into her schedule when he decided in September to throw his hat back into the competition ring, just two months before the first qualifying event for nationals.

"I asked around, and the only person who volunteered was Tessa. She's like 'Oh. Sure. I'll do it.' It worked out really well. She did a phenomenal job," Andreev said.

Because of the time constraints, Andreev decided to resurrect and rearrange the programs he used three years earlier -- a Spanish-themed short and Tango for the long, which had earned him sixth place in the senior men's event at the 2005 Canadians. A painful back injury had thwarted his training that season and eventually forced him onto the sidelines the next year.

Now, he politely declines to discuss that injury, saying he wants to leave it in the past.

When a chance to work as a model was presented to the ultra-attractive Andreev some months later, he left skating behind for the world of high fashion -- first in New York City, then Thailand and, finally, Hong Kong. Magazine, catalog and billboard shoots, television commercials, runway shows -- Andreev did it all.

"The whole lifestyle is a little bit intense, I'd have to say. I was thrown aback when I first got into the whole modeling scene. I'm not used to partying at all, and a lot of people party all the time. I have no idea, to this day, how they do it. It boggles my mind," Andreev said.

"But, contrary to popular belief, I met some amazing people, very highly-intelligent people who use it [modeling] as a means to travel the world, meet new people and broaden their horizons," added Andreev, who said the job is not as lucrative as one might think.

He has no intention of making a career out of modeling, preferring to focus on his skating and coaching, but wouldn't be averse to taking a high-paying gig if one came along.

In Asia, Andreev was also involved in drifting -- a kind of car racing which is judged, done in tandem with another car, and involves purposely making the car skid sideways on turns in the course.

"It's kind of like the figure skating of motor sports. You try to maintain as much speed as you can and create as much smoke as you can. It's pretty intense. You look like you're out of control, but you're actually in control. It's a fun, fun sport," explained Andreev, who also loves road racing and expects to be involved in motor sports his whole life.

"It's one of my biggest passions in life, and I can't think of anything I enjoy more than racing."

After a year abroad, Andreev, who was born in Moscow but grew up in Ottawa before moving to Michigan in 2002, needed to return to the U.S. to ensure his application for U.S. citizenship would not be derailed. He has no designs on competing for the U.S., however.

When Andreev came home last summer, he was hit by an undeniable urge to compete again. With his back no longer bothering him, he took to the ice for the sheer joy of it.

"For the first time in my life, I'm just training for the love of skating. I'm just truly enjoying skating. That's it," said Andreev, whose best finish on the national stage was a bronze medal in 2003.

"Before, it felt like my job, my career. It [training] was for the wrong reasons," he explained.

Andreev lives and trains mostly in Canton, Mich., but two or three times weekly he travels over an hour to Rochester Hills, Mich., where veteran coach Richard Callaghan is based. Callaghan, who also coaches Canada's third-ranked woman Lesley Hawker, had been Andreev's coach for several years the first go-round.

The re-energized Andreev topped the field at both stages of qualifying for the Canadian Championships, amassing 193 points on his second outing, some 23 more than Canada's number two man Christopher Mabee.

A quad is not on his priority list for this season, but his triple Axels, he said, are "pretty big, better than ever."

Andreev has set no goal for next week's championships. "This will be different than any other nationals for me, obviously. I have a different outlook on it now, and I'm a lot more mature. Honestly, I'm just there to have fun. I can't have any expectations."

He added, "All I can ask for, is to have the crowd enjoy my skating."

There is little chance of that not happening. From the moment he debuted at senior nationals at age 17, Andreev has been a fan favorite who garnered screaming ovations usually reserved for rock stars. He was a veritable teenage heart throb.

"It's very flattering. It's a nice feeling I always got when I knew people enjoyed my skating. It was a really, really positive feeling."