The pair have been hanging out together since the summer of 2020, after Epstein’s former Finnish partner suddenly broke up. The Challenge Cup in February 2021 was their first competition, where they could also compete with another Dutch-Russian duo, Michelle Cipa and Daria Danilova. That match was won by the last pair, which earned another ten points after two free rounds.
Many tournaments followed. Last season, both teams qualified for the European Championship in Espoo, Finland, and the World Cup, which is played daily at a sold-out stadium in Saitama. On the European scene, Epstein and Osipova reached eighth place; In Japan, the pair finished 18th in the freestyle, then returned to 20th after that program.
A month ago, Epstein, who runs a ski school with his mother in De Uethof in The Hague, was still looking forward to new competition for the spot. With an additional €3,000 student loan, he gave himself and Nika some breathing room financially; The new short freestyle and different outfits provided fuel for both of them to work hard again in the training sessions. The KNSB Cup in Den Bosch was due to be the first test, but Osipova’s ankle injury led to the cancellation. “We didn’t want to take any risks in view of the first Grand Prix this winter that we can participate in, Skate America in Texas,” was the explanation for the absence. The trip to the United States did not go ahead either.
“This is a shame,” he said in his farewell message on social media. “I would have liked to continue with Nika. I would prefer to keep trying to improve myself because that is my general philosophy in life and to always push things forward. But Nika feels that she is satisfied with where we are now and that continuing to skate will not enrich our lives as much as it could. I understand her in a way.” But we have to agree that we disagree on the word “enrichment.”
“To be honest, I had a great time and I’m very proud of what we achieved together in such a short period of time. We proved that you can create something great quickly, no matter how old you are and in your own environment. Without a millionaire father. I’m also very happy that I skated with this A special person, a lifelong friend that I can call every day. We both learned a lot from this experience together!’
Epstein does not dare say whether he has lost in this sport. “I’ve created a good training schedule to continue working towards my goals, regardless of whether I have a partner or not. If I find the right match, I may continue,” he concludes (with a comment in parentheses so interested riders can contact him).
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