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Isabella Tobias (born August 23, 1991) is an American-born Israeli ice dancer who competes with Ilia Tkachenko. Together they have won four medals on the ISU Challenger Series.

Isabella Tobias
2017 World Figure Skating Championships Isabella Tobias Ilia Tkachenko jsfb dave5318.jpg
Tobias and Tkachenko in 2017
Personal information
Country representedIsrael
Former country(ies) representedGeorgia
Born (1991-08-23) August 23, 1991 (age 28)
New York City, New York, United States
Home townDetroit, United States
Height1.63 m (5 ft 4 in)
PartnerIlia Tkachenko
Former partnerDeividas Stagniūnas, Otar Japaridze
CoachMarina Zueva, Johnny Johns, Massimo Scali, Oleg Epstein
Former coachIgor Shpilband, Adrienne Lenda
ChoreographerMarina Zueva, Massimo Scali
Former choreographerIgor Shpilband
Skating clubIsrael ISF
Former skating clubBaltų ainiai
Training locationsDetroit, Michigan
Began skating1998
RetiredJanuary 29, 2018[1]
ISU personal best scores
Combined total177.80
2016 CS Tallinn Trophy
Short dance71.35
2016 CS Tallinn Trophy
Free dance106.45
2016 CS Tallinn Trophy

Earlier in her career, Tobias skated with Otar Japaridze for Georgia and with Deividas Stagniūnas for Lithuania. With Stagniūnas, she won the bronze medal at the 2011 Skate America, placed in the top ten at two European Championships, and represented Lithuania at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.

Personal lifeEdit

Isabella Tobias was born August 23, 1991 in New York City.[2] She and her family are Jewish.[3] She is the daughter of Stephen Tobias, president and co-founder of I.A. Englander & Co., one of the largest institutional equity derivatives brokers on the American stock exchange. After completing high school, she briefly attended Columbia University's School of General Studies.[4] From 1999 to 2007 she attended the George Balanchine School of American Ballet and performed with the New York City Ballet.[5]

In October 2012, Tobias applied for Lithuanian citizenship.[6] In December, she was interviewed by the Citizenship Commission and passed the Lithuanian language test,[7] however, the application was denied by Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaitė on January 7, 2013.[8][9] It was granted on December 5, 2013.[10][11]

Tobias married Samuel Lites in June 2017. In 2019, Lites decided to finish her degree at Southern Methodist University. She is a member of Kappa Kappa Gamma there.

Early careerEdit

Isabella Tobias started skating in 1998 at the age of seven. She took up ice dancing at age 10 and competed with Kurt Lingenfelter on the intermediate level and with James Warren in novice. In 2003, she decided to leave skating to focus on ballet.[5]

Tobias returned to skating in September 2007 and teamed up with Otar Japaridze to compete for Georgia.[5] They appeared together on the junior level during the 2007–08 season, placing 14th at the 2008 World Junior Championships.

Partnership with StagniūnasEdit

In spring 2010, Tobias teamed up with Lithuanian ice dancer Deividas Stagniūnas.[12] They initially trained under Igor Shpilband and Marina Zueva in Canton, Michigan.

2010–2011 seasonEdit

Tobias/Stagniūnas made their debut at the 2010 Nebelhorn Trophy, where they placed 11th, and won their first international medal, bronze, at the 2010 NRW Trophy. At their first European and World Championships, they placed 12th and 14th respectively.

2011–2012 seasonEdit

Tobias/Stagniūnas won bronze at a Grand Prix event, the 2011 Skate America. They finished 9th at the 2012 European Championships and 18th at the 2012 World Championships.

2012–2013 seasonEdit

In June 2012, Tobias/Stagniūnas moved from Canton, Michigan to Novi, Michigan, following coach Igor Shpilband.[13] According to IOC rules, Olympic competitors must be citizens of the country they are representing. In order to allow the team to compete at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Tobias submitted an application for Lithuanian citizenship in October 2012.[6] It was denied on January 7, 2013.[8][9]

Tobias/Stagniūnas withdrew from the 2013 European Championships as a result of Stagniūnas' back problem.[7] By finishing 15th at the 2013 World Championships in London, Ontario, they qualified a spot for Lithuania in the Olympic ice dancing event.

2013–2014 seasonEdit

Tobias was granted Lithuanian citizenship in December 2013. Tobias/Stagniūnas placed ninth at the 2014 European Championships in January in Budapest, 17th at the 2014 Winter Olympics in February in Sochi, and then 15th at the 2014 World Championships in March in Saitama. In early May 2014, Stagniūnas announced his competitive retirement due to recurring injuries.[14]

Partnership with TkachenkoEdit


Tobias and Russia's Ilia Tkachenko teamed up in the summer of 2014 to represent Israel. They had skated together for six months in 2008.[3] On their decision regarding which country to represent, Tobias stated: "The U.S. would have granted him citizenship one year too late at best; Russia wanted me to give away my American passport, which I would never do; and the experts we consulted assured (us) that Lithuania would never grant him citizenship (I barely got mine). So we chose Israel, as I am of Jewish origin, and Ilia has also some Jewish roots via his mother, which makes it easier."[15] The two sat out the 2014–2015 season in order to become eligible to compete for the following season.[16]

2015–2016 seasonEdit

Tobias/Tkachenko began the season on the Challenger Series (CS), winning silver medals at the Finlandia Trophy and Mordovian Ornament.[16] They placed 10th at the 2016 European Championships in Bratislava, Slovakia, and 12th at the 2016 World Championships in Boston, United States. They were coached by Igor Shpilband and Adrienne Lenda in Novi, Michigan.[17]

2016–2017 seasonEdit

Tobias/Tkachenko ranked 4th at the 2016 CS Autumn Classic International in Canada before making their Grand Prix debut as a team. After placing 6th at the 2016 Skate America and 5th at the 2016 Trophée de France, they won silver behind Elena Ilinykh / Ruslan Zhiganshin at the 2016 CS Tallinn Trophy.

The two placed 12th at the 2017 World Championships in Helsinki, Finland. Due to their result, Israel qualified a spot in the ice dancing event at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. They were coached by Shpilband and Lenda in Novi, Michigan.[2]

On 12 April 2017, Tobias/Tkachenko announced a coaching change, having decided to join Marina Zoueva, Oleg Epstein, Massimo Scali, and Johnny Johns at the Arctic Edge in Canton, Michigan.[18]

2017–2018 seasonEdit

Tobias/Tkachenko withdrew from both of their Grand Prix assignments – the 2017 NHK Trophy and 2017 Skate America. Due to Tkachenko's unsuccessful application for Israeli citizenship, they were not included in Israel's team to the 2018 Winter Olympics.[19]


With TkachenkoEdit

Season Short dance Free dance Exhibition

With StagniūnasEdit

Season Short dance Free dance Exhibition
  • Foxtrot: A Fine Romance
    by Marilyn Monroe
  • Quickstep: Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friends
    by Marilyn Monroe

With JaparidzeEdit

Season Original dance Free dance
  • Two Guitars
    performed by Zoltan and his Gypsy Ensemble
  • Dark Eyes
    performed by Bigrock Balalaikas


GP: Grand Prix; CS: Challenger Series; JGP: Junior Grand Prix

With Tkachenko for IsraelEdit

Event 2015–16 2016–17 2017–18
World Champ. 12th 12th
European Champ. 10th 4th
GP NHK Trophy WD
GP Skate America 6th WD
GP Trophée de France 5th
CS Autumn Classic 4th
CS Finlandia Trophy 2nd
CS Mordovian Ornament 2nd
CS Tallinn Trophy 1st 2nd
Lake Placid IDI 1st
TBD = Assigned; WD = Withdrew

With Stagniūnas for LithuaniaEdit

Event 2010–11 2011–12 2012–13 2013–14
Winter Olympics 17th
World Champ. 14th 18th 15th 15th
European Champ. 12th 9th 9th
GP Skate America 3rd
GP Cup of Russia 5th
Nebelhorn Trophy 11th 5th
Golden Spin 4th
NRW Trophy 3rd
Lithuanian Champ. 1st 1st 1st

With Japaridze for GeorgiaEdit

Event 2007–08
World Junior Championships 14th
JGP Germany 7th
JGP United Kingdom 6th


  1. ^ Schostak, Rachel (January 29, 2018). "20 QUESTIONS WITH ISABELLA TOBIAS LITES". Neighborhood Seen.
  2. ^ a b c "Isabella TOBIAS / Ilia TKACHENKO: 2016/2017". International Skating Union. Archived from the original on November 23, 2016.CS1 maint: unfit url (link)
  3. ^ a b Yofis, Andrey (15 January 2017). "Isabella Tobias and Ilia Tkachenko: "We always push ourselves"". Absolute Skating.
  4. ^ "A Family Affair: Father-Daughter Duo Take on Ivy League". Columbia University. August 13, 2009. Archived from the original on December 22, 2012.
  5. ^ a b c Mittan, Barry (August 3, 2008). "Georgia on Their Minds". SkateToday.
  6. ^ a b Augustis, Mindaugas (October 5, 2012). "Į Lietuvą pirmąkart atvykusi šokėja ant ledo I.Tobias prašo prezidentės malonės" [Tobias appealed to the president]. Delfi (in Lithuanian).
  7. ^ a b Elfman, Lois (January 18, 2013). "Tobias, Stagniunas keep up citizenship fight".
  8. ^ a b "Lithuania won't clear Isabella Tobias". Associated Press. ESPN. January 7, 2013.
  9. ^ a b "Lithuanian president denies citizenship to American ice skater". The Baltic Course. January 7, 2013.
  10. ^ Ištikimybę Lietuvai prisiekusi I. Tobias – ekstazėje (čiuožėjų komentarai, du fotoalbumai) (in Lithuanian)
  11. ^ I. Tobias: atstovauti JAV būtų didelė garbė, bet čiuožti už Lietuvą – ne mažiau garbinga (in Lithuanian)
  12. ^ Elfman, Lois (October 12, 2011). "Tobias, Stagniunas find rhythm in partnership". Retrieved October 12, 2011.
  13. ^ "Lithuanians Tobias, Stagniunas follow Shpilband". Icenetwork. June 14, 2012.
  14. ^ "Olympic ice skater Stagniūnas ends his professional career". Lithuania Tribune. May 2, 2014. Archived from the original on May 3, 2014.
  15. ^ Berlot, Jean-Christophe (January 29, 2016). "Bratislava Rolls: Tobias explains Israeli connections".
  16. ^ a b Flade, Tatjana (October 26, 2015). "Tobias and Tkachenko seize second chance". Golden Skate.
  17. ^ a b "Isabella TOBIAS / Ilia TKACHENKO: 2015/2016". International Skating Union. Archived from the original on May 27, 2016.CS1 maint: unfit url (link)
  18. ^ Tobias Lites, Isabella; Tkachenko, Ilya (April 12, 2017). "We would like to announce that our new coaching team is Marina Zoueva, Oleg Epstein, Massimo Scali and Johnny Johns". Facebook.
  19. ^ Sinai, Allon (November 22, 2017). "Israeli athletes set to don gloves for Winter Olympics". The Jerusalem Post. Archived from the original on November 22, 2017.
  20. ^ "Isabella TOBIAS / Ilia TKACHENKO: 2017/2018". International Skating Union. Archived from the original on October 17, 2017.CS1 maint: unfit url (link)
  21. ^ Tobias, Isabella; Tkachenko, Ilya (March 14, 2015). "Programs". Facebook of Isabella Tobias & Ilya Tkachenko. Retrieved May 16, 2015.
  22. ^ "Isabella TOBIAS / Deividas STAGNIUNAS: 2013/2014". International Skating Union. Archived from the original on May 3, 2014.
  23. ^ "Isabella TOBIAS / Deividas STAGNIUNAS: 2012/2013". International Skating Union. Archived from the original on January 12, 2013.CS1 maint: unfit url (link)
  24. ^ Flade, Tatjana (August 26, 2012). "Tobias and Stagniunas are ready to challenge". Golden Skate.
  25. ^ "Isabella TOBIAS / Deividas STAGNIUNAS: 2011/2012". International Skating Union. Archived from the original on April 27, 2012.
  26. ^ "Isabella TOBIAS / Deividas STAGNIUNAS: 2010/2011". International Skating Union. Archived from the original on August 16, 2011.CS1 maint: unfit url (link)
  27. ^ "Isabella TOBIAS / Otar JAPARIDZE: 2007/2008". International Skating Union. Archived from the original on May 14, 2008.CS1 maint: unfit url (link)
  28. ^ "Competition Results: Isabella TOBIAS / Ilia TKACHENKO". International Skating Union.
  29. ^ a b "Competition Results: Isabella TOBIAS / Deividas STAGNIUNAS". International Skating Union. Archived from the original on May 3, 2014.
  30. ^ "Competition Results: Isabella TOBIAS / Otar JAPARIDZE". International Skating Union. Archived from the original on December 16, 2012.

External linksEdit