Interview: Heidi Range and Andrei Lipanov
Heidi and Andrei talk Dancing On Ice
Tuesday 10 Apr 2012
Above: Heidi and Andrei loved dancing together on Dancing On Ice
This year’s Dancing On Ice was a tumultuous and drama-packed series for several contestants – but surely the celebrity with the biggest uphill struggle had to be the Sugababes’ gorgeous Heidi Range, whose intended professional partner Sylvain Longchambon was seriously injured after they’d completed six weeks training together, and had to abandon the competition just before Christmas.
THE 'Dancing On Ice' partners talk love splits, ice injuries and girls on tour!
So, step into the breach Andrei Lipanov – the hero to the rescue of our damsel in distress! ‘Andrei was amazing – we just had one week’s rehearsal, which was a nightmare, but we just had to jump to it,’ recalls 28-year-old Heidi, who quickly bonded with Andrei as they went on to become one of the most popular duos in the ratings-grabbing ITV1 show, before Heidi finally bowed out following that terrifying solo skate-off.
It’s been a tough time for Heidi as she split from fiancé Dave Berry at the end of last year.
For 36-year-old Andrei, having to stand powerless on the sidelines during that solo routine was one of the worst moments of the series, before Heidi was voted off by the judges.
However, they’re now reunited for the nationwide live Dancing On Ice tour which they both agree is in many respects a more pleasurable experience for the skaters.
In between their highly valuable rehearsal and practice time, we were thrilled to tempt Heidi and Andrei for a delicious lunch at fabulous west London Spanish restaurant El Pirata de Tapas – where we learnt more about everything from bone-crunching injuries to what they really think about those hyper-critical Dancing On Ice judges!
Heidi, we were sorry to hear about you and your ex-fiancé Dave Berry splitting up at the end of last year. How are things now – are you dating?
I’m not like searching for someone. It’s whatever’s meant to be will be.
Dave and I are still really good friends, we have lunch together. We just don’t know.
I just don’t stress about it, though. Let’s see what happens…
Had you ever skated before competing in Dancing On Ice?
I’d go skating at Christmas time, when you go to Winter Wonderland and hold onto the barrier – but no, I’d never skated properly.
In fact, Dancing On Ice was something I’d never considered. It had never popped into my head.
They approached me, and it was just at a time where my work schedule had some free time, and I thought, why not?
How would you sum up your experience on the show?
I’m really glad I did it – it’s one of the best experiences I’ve ever had, although it’s much tougher than people think.
It’s physically and mentally tough – but I don’t know one person who didn’t enjoy their time on the show.
Are you all set for the live tour?
I can’t wait – mainly because I think the tour will be more fun than the TV series!
There is still the pressure, because you want to put on a really good show, and the first half of the show is like on TV, where you get your scores and the judges’ comments, but there isn’t that pressure of being booted off that night.
You had it particularly tough going into the TV show, as you had a last-minute change of professional skating partner – what happened?
I was due to do the series with Sylvain [Longchambon]. We trained for six weeks together, and then he had his injury. I’d been terrified of doing any lifts, and it took a week off the ice with Sylvain to do it finally.
We got to the very last day before the Christmas break, and on that day he ruptured his bicep in the middle of a routine.
So Andrei and I only had a week’s training before the first show.
How did you and Andrei cope with that added pressure?
We had to just jump straight into it.
Even though the professionals can just about do anything, for me it was difficult because Andrei’s timings were different, he held me differently in the lifts, and it’s all about getting used to that.
Andrei, what was it like being called to the rescue at the 11th hour?
Wow, what a Christmas present! It was just a couple of days before Christmas, and after that we only had a week to practise. But I think we did pretty good.
Heidi, how was your final skate-off on the show, especially the fact that it was solo?
That was terrifying. That was the toughest week – but in a way, I was glad I did it, even though I didn’t have much speed on my own.
At least I could show that I’d learnt something and could move a little on my own!
Andrei, what was it like for you, watching powerless on the sidelines?
It was horrible. All the way through the series, I tried to give Heidi my full support not just on the ice but off the ice too, on the show and in training.
We spent such a lot of time training on the lifts.
There was a point there when, as much as I would love to have helped, I just had to stand on the side at watch.
How did you cope with the negative comments from the DOI judges?
Heidi: I got negative comments all the time. It’s just really disheartening when you’ve worked so hard on something.
Some of the comments about the lifts were annoying – we’d spend like an hour every day off the ice working on the lifts.
Andrei: The judges are just for the show. They look at the videos and see how we’ve all been training, but they’re judging only on something they’re seeing that Sunday night, rather than all the way through the week.
Heidi, did you sustain any injuries during the series?
I had a bone come out of my rib, and my wrist – and I cut my leg with my blade.
But nothing serious! At first, you feel a twinge in your knee, and you wonder if you’ve done something, and then after weeks and weeks you see all the injuries everyone gets.
I cry if I see anyone hurt. I remember with my ex, Dave, when he had his face shaven, and I was sobbing while he just had some tiny cuts on his face and was just asking for a tissue.
I just don’t like seeing blood on people – it upsets me!
What was your favourite routine in the whole series?
The Bond theme. It was movie week, and we were skating to Goldfinger.
The set was fantastic, I love the song – and the performance went really well!
Who of your fellow celebrity skaters did you get on with best on the TV show?
I got on with everyone, but Jennifer Ellison and I are really good friends – and fellow Scousers!
Jen and I were friends when we were younger. We used to go clubbing together when we were 16, so it’s been brilliant to get back in touch with her.
Who else is doing the tour?
Matt Wolfenden, our current champion, plus Chico, Chemmy [Alcott], Jorgie [Porter], Andy [Whyment] and also Sam Attwater, who won last year.
I love the judging panel on the tour, as we’ve got Christopher Biggins, which I’m so excited about, as well as Kyran Bracken, Robin Cousins on some of the shows, and Karen Barber.
And no Louie Spence, which is a shame, as I love him!
What’s happening with the Sugababes? Has the group split?
We’re taking time out to do our own things at the moment. We haven’t split but we haven’t got any plans either.
I see the other girls. I see Amelle [Berrabah] a lot – she only lives down the road. I’ve been in the Sugababes for 11 years now, and I’ve loved it, but everything’s always been planned out for me – so it’s nice now to just think, I’ll see what opportunities come,’ and try different things, where I can choose what I want to do.
What’s your favourite Sugababes song?
Too Lost In You. I love ballads, and it was in Love Actually, and I love that film. We got to really sing on it. There’s also another song off our first album, called Breathe Easy, which wasn’t a single, but I just love it for the same reasons.
Andrei, when did you start skating, and when did you leave Russia?
I was five when I started skating. It’s the best age to start. You can start when you’re three, I guess.
There’s no history of skating in my family – it was just my mum who tried to keep me busy, and off the street! I left Russia when I was 20, in 1996.
I came to England and I used to work for the Russian Ice Stars company that toured around the UK.
Now I’m based in the North East, teaching and working as a coach..
You’re married to British professional skater Susie Humble…
Yes, and she’s been involved in Dancing On Ice as well. She was partnered with Todd Carty! She enjoyed it.
She also partnered Jeremy Sheffield, and Steve Backley – he was really, really good.
We’ve been married 14 years and we have a seven-year-old son, Sasha.
Do you think he’ll be a skater?
No! When the BBC or ITV start showing the Winter Olympics on British television, maybe I’ll ask him to have a look at the skating. We take winter sports a lot more seriously in Russia!