Reboot Charlotte: Reboot In A New Country
CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Figure skating coach Andriy Kyforenko is on the ice seven days a week. He is here in the early mornings, in the afternoons and much of Saturday and Sunday. When his students are available to learn he is ready to teach on and off ice. At just 31 years old Kyforenko has an impressive roster of dedicated figure skaters. Being a coach in America was always his hope. Kyforenko says "I have this job and I very much enjoy figure skating and being a coach in America, it was my dream."
Kyforenko is from Odessa, Ukraine where he was for many years one of the country's best on ice. He also competed internationally to much acclaim but a devastating series of injuries dashed Olympic dreams. Kyforenko then performed in ice shows that allowed him and his wife Anya to see the world. But even then both knew coaching in America was their future. Kyforenko says "America gives opportunity to work here there are a lot of ice rinks a lot of options to be a coach here." Contacts through friends got an interview in Charlotte and that was almost three years ago. For Kyforenko he is far from home but he says he is exactly where he wants to be here in Charlotte, " it's a growing city and I can see at this ice rink I can have a lot of opportunity and this city can give a lot of opportunity to stay and live here. "
28 year old Ro Van Den Berg hails from South Africa where he grew up around boats and surf boards, riding them and fixing them. Through the internet he discovered the sport of long boarding. These boards were not available in South Africa so Van Den Berg did what entrepreneurs do, he made one and word spread, "they were like can you make us a board made them boards and their friends wanted some and that grew into us making a decision about what to put a name on something."
Earth Skateboard Company was born but Van Den Berg knew long board's biggest market in the world was America, "it's massive I mean it's the fastest growing board sport in the United States."
Through his research he found that Charlotte might be an ideal location, "looking at the trends moving in from California and moving down from New York and you sort of find it all condenses in the south and there was no one down here producing longboards on a mainstream level. So the engineering major made the move, built his shop and invested in the equipment to build longboards. Van Den Berg wants to keep his business at a boutique level healthy but not mass produced. The name also indicates his commitment to being green and adhering to sustainable products and methods. The QC did have one other rather major advantage in keeping this South African from going back home or even to another city, he met his wife here, "it's been a great trip so far, are you going to stay? looks like we are!"
Now both of these men came to Charlotte during a depressed economy but they worked hard and created that foundation for success- proving that in this country and in this city you can live the American dream. 15 percent of Mecklenburg county residents are foreign born and the number of people coming to our area each year has increased for more than ten years.
Weblinks to check out:
International House of Charlotte: ihclt.org
Earth Skateboard Co.: earthskateboardco.com