Ice skater Alexei glides to victory in top TV show
A VALLEY dad has scooped the top prize in a hit Spanish television show.
Professional ice skater Alexei Kislitsyn was invited to appear in Desafio Bajo Cero - the Spanish version of popular British programme Dancing on Ice.
Alexei, of Carr Lane, Rawtenstall, jetted out to Madrid in August to start training for the celebrity-based event in which he was teamed up with Spanish Olympic gymnast Almudena Cid.
The 39-year-old, who is originally from the Ukraine but has lived in the Valley for almost 10 years, explained: 'It was a little bit difficult, because not many people spoke English; I sometimes struggled to communicate as English is not my first language either.
'When I met Almudena for the first time she said no-one would vote for her because they wouldn't know who she was.'
Despite not being able to ice skate at the start of training, Alexei's partner was able to use her gymnastic background to some effect.
Alexei, who has been skating for 32 years, added: 'Being a sports person, she wanted to be the best and desperately wanted to win.
'She worked very hard and was very flexible - sometimes too much so, as in skating you need to be able to control your muscles and she would sometimes just go into the splits!'
But the couple were popular with both judges and the voting public - finishing top almost every week.
And earlier this month they defeated the final two couples to become overall winners.
Alexei is glad to be back in Rossendale, having missed his 22-month-old daughter Anna-Maria and wife, fellow professional skater Natalia Pestova, 32.
In between skating, the couple run a Russian and East European deli in Blackpool.
Alexei said: 'I felt like a bit of a betrayer because she was working while I was in the sun!'
But Alexei will be the one left holding the baby next month when Natalia begins training for her role in the British version of Dancing on Ice - to be screened early next year.
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