Olga Sharutenko and Vadim Yarkov in a scene from The Nutcracker on Ice.

OLGA SHARUTENKO is an acclaimed Russian ice-skater who was a member of the Russian National Figure Skating Team before joining the Imperial Ice Stars, who will be presenting The Nutracker on Ice at Artscape. She speaks about her career:

What role do you play in The Nutcracker on Ice?

I am playing two roles: that of Drosselmeyer’s Assistant in act 1 and the White Cat in act 2.

How long have you been with the Imperial Ice Stars?

Since they started in 2003. We opened with Sleeping Beauty on Ice at the Lyric Theatre in Sydney, Australia, and my part was as the Lilac Fairy.

You wanted to be a figure skater when you were little, and started training at six?

My mother was my inspiration, and it was also not difficult to fall in love with the beauty of the ice dance, as I was fond of dance from the time I learnt to walk.

So your mother was also a figure skater?

Yes – my mother also started skating at the age of six and competed in many local competitions. She finished skating when she was a teenager. She passed me on to professional trainers when she realised she couldn’t be hard enough on me when I was training.

You and your skating partner (Dmitri Naumkin) became national figure skating champions in Russia. This must have taken a lot of training and discipline?

Dmitri and I skated together for 15 years and became not only national champions but also junior world champions. Figure skating was everything to us and remains that way today. Back then we were training twice a day on the ice, six days a week.

Now, as a member of the Imperial Ice Stars, is your training as intensive?

The training now is not as intensive as for competitions but the work is. We have to perform our absolute best each night. We have two to three hours a day for warm-up and then rehearsals before the shows. I attended ballet school when I was younger, but at the age of seven years I had to decide between ballet and figure skating.

Is it dangerous in any way?

It can be dangerous, but the main rules are to always be well prepared before you step onto the ice, always doing the required warm-ups and stretches, and always being attentive and disciplined when working, especially with partners.

You also choreograph ice pieces, I believe?

Most of my creations are for our shows and include Swan Lake on Ice and Cinderella, which toured around the world. Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, the UK, Germany, Spain, Portugal, Thailand and South Africa are countries where my choreography has been performed.

This is not your first visit to South Africa – what do you like about the country?

I love South Africa and I love the people – SA is a very warm and welcoming nation. I have visited Pilanesberg and the Kruger Park, visited wineries in Cape Town and even done some fishing.

What do you do to relax?

I enjoy wandering around and seeing as much as I can of the many towns we visit. I enjoy seafood and can be often found in a good seafood restaurant overlooking the water on my evening off.

l The Nutracker on Ice will be staged at the Artscape Theatre from January 19 to February 11. To book, call Computicket at 0861 915 8000, or or 021 421 7695.