The ice-skating champion of Greece is living in California! Was I hearing correctly? “Yes,” Shelly Papadopoulos told me, “and she has represented Greece for the past six years!” I had to learn more.
Meet Dimitra Korri, an amazing athlete whose mother is from Vresthena in Sparta and whose father came from Distomo, Boiotas. Dimitra grew up in Chicago but spent each summer in Greece with family. She is fluent in Greek.
I wondered how she was first attracted to the ice. “As a kid I asked my mom to sign me up for rhythmic gymnastics after watching a competition on television. Unfortunately, or fortunately, there were no such classes in my neighborhood, but there was figure skating and that’s how it started. The moment I stepped out on to the ice it felt right and what began as a fun extra-curricular activity, slowly, with a lot of work, determination, sacrifice and perseverance, progressed into an athletic career.”
The skating scene has been present in Greece since the late 80s. Not all skaters that represent Greece are from the diaspora, as nowadays there are many skaters training in Athens and Thessaloniki at the younger basic and novice levels as well as at the junior level. More and more outdoor public skating rinks are opening up in the wintertime and Dimitra is excited and sanguine about the future of figure- skating in Greece.
She is a two-time Greek National Figure Skating champion, and has set goals to qualify for the European and World Figure Skating Championships, which would be a milestone for Greece. If she qualifies for the latter by 2021 she will have a spot for the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.
About six years ago she decided to combine her passion for ice-skating with the adrenaline of racing and trained for speed skating. She now holds three Greek national records in the 500m, the 1000m, and 1500m races.
Not all her time is spent on ice: filmmaking is something she fell in love with in her senior year. After making her first short film, she knew that was something she wanted to pursue; she has now directed, shot and produced music videos, commercial/promotional videos, documentary and narrative shorts as well as journalistic video pieces. One of the music videos she directed was featured at the 2014 Chicago International Movies and Music film festivals. “I have also recently released episodes of my documentary short, “Street Dog Anthem,” on my Vimeo page. This is about stray dog issues in Chile.
Dimitra writes songs and is passionate about linguistics – in addition to speaking English and Greek, she speaks Spanish and is now learning French.
When asked about her dream she answers: “It is my dream for Greece to have a full-size Olympic ice arena to host international figure skating events and to serve as a training hub for Greek national, as well as guest skaters from around the world. It would be incredible for Greece to host junior and senior level world-class international competitions. I recently competed at 2018 EduSport in Romania last week and earned a silver medal. This now makes me a two-time international silver medalist and I’m not going to stop here. I see it as my duty, as a Greek, who is passionate about figure skating, to push the sport forward by taking it to the highest level possible and to be an advocate for the presence of figure skating in Greece.”
Hard work, determination, courage and sacrifice can only take her so far. Finally there is the hefty price tag. “As a child I never anticipated or understood the expenses that would come with training at the elite level. I believe that Greece as a nation that birthed the Olympic Games should be represented in all Olympic sports. It is my goal to bring honor to Greece through the sport of competitive figure skating.”
Can we help this Greek athlete achieve this worthy ambition? Your donations will help subsidize practice time, coach’s fees, travel expenses, costumes, personal-training sessions, as well as boot and blade maintenance. Right now she needs to raise $10,000 to keep going. Dimitra has a Facebook page as well as a GoFundMe campaign at www.gofundme.com/dimitrakorri.
Email the author: Mavis Manus