- Path to the arena
- Unique attraction
- Circus family
- After the crash
- Return to service
Honored Artist of Russia Vitaly Smolyanets is the only circus figure in the world who performs without both legs. Spectators of the famous show “Empire of lionesses” meet the handler standing, arranging endless applause for the master's professionalism and courage of a caring person.
Path to the arena
In September 2016, he won the prestigious prize of the World Festival "Idol 2016", held among circus performers, and he started as an ordinary truck driver, transporting animals. A native of the Donetsk region (Khartsyzk), Vitaly Smolyanets, whose biography is presented in the article, was born in 1973. After the school, still under Soviet rule, he was called up to the Northern Fleet, and was demobilized in 1993 already in the times of the CIS. He worked as a truck driver until a friend Sergei Belyakov opened a private circus in Russia and invited Vitali to work as a driver.
The young man imbued with the atmosphere of a circus, and soon began to assist a friend in his room with predators. Sometimes it was necessary to completely replace the one in the arena, and Vitaly began to dream of his own attraction. It took him six years to accumulate funds for the purchase of the first pets: the lioness Nika and the lion Simon, acquired in Novosibirsk in 2002.
A year later, Vitaly Smolyanets (photo available in this material) received a baptism of fire. The number turned out, and after a while the young man became an artist of the Russian State Circus. In 2012, he created an original attraction, in which six lionesses and two tigers took part. Simon had to return to the zoo, because the work with different-sex predators did not work out. Lionesses should have one leader - the trainer. Lions look more spectacular in the arena, besides working with big cats is more difficult, but the young tamer was not looking for easy ways.
His beauties began to do such unique tricks that in 2015 he would be awarded the circus award "Master" as the best trainer. In his issue, the lionesses are doing the backstop driving, and the dynamics, complexity and precision of execution are such that Edgard Zapashny specially went to Nizhny Novgorod, where the trainer toured to get acquainted with a talented colleague.
Circus and predators have become the meaning of the artist's life. Vitaly Smolyanets even created a family with hereditary circus performers. Inessa is 10 years younger than her husband. She is also a trainer, but her animals are ponies and monkeys. Spouses together for 13 years, touring with a circus, where the entire second part of the program is the attraction of Vitaly.
In the family grow two sons. The elder Igor is a schoolboy. He had already entered the cage with young tigers, but his father would not let him go to the adults: predators are able to attack those whom they consider weaker. Today, Igor lives in Yurga (Kemerovo region), where Vitaly's mother-in-law lives, attends school. The younger Mark is touring with his parents, learning about the life of the circus backstage. Older brother Vladimir assists an eminent relative in a room with wild cats.
The road has divided the life of the trainer on before and after. 02/09/2015 at 3 o'clock in the morning he was driving his own car along the icy highway Tver - Moscow. Having passed the 138th km in the area of the settlement. Redkino, he witnessed how the UAZ vehicle, which had crashed into the separation barrier, was deployed in front. The passenger broke through the windshield and flew to the middle of the line, and the driver was in a state of shock. The next morning, the media will report in detail that Vitaly Smolyanets, trainer, had an accident that cost him both his legs.
That night the artist had to go through the most terrible moments of his life. Stopping on the side of the road, he rushed to the lying passenger to drag him off the roadway. I saw with my side sight how a wagon was driving toward them, the driver of which lost control on a slippery road. Having shouted to the driver of the UAZ, who managed to roll under the bump stop, Vitaly managed to push the passenger of the unconscious passenger behind the fence, and he himself was hit by a cargo MAZ.
After the crash
One Vitaly's leg was torn off immediately, and the second had an open fracture. In full consciousness, the trainer called his wife, saying goodbye and asking for forgiveness for everything. He sincerely believed that he would die, bleeding to death on the track. The pain was unbearable, and he prayed for an early end to the torment. But all subsequent events have become a succession of happy coincidences, as if in gratitude for the heroism and human participation shown.
Arriving traffic police officers managed to stop the bleeding by pulling the legs with a tourniquet. After 30 minutes, the ambulance brought the wounded to the hospital of the village of Redkino, which belonged to the Ministry of Emergency Situations. Professional surgeons, cutting off clothes right on the operating table, skillfully performed the operation on amputation of the second leg, saving the artist life. A few hours later, the wife was already at the patient’s bed, the next three months not leaving her husband. Vitaly Smolianets, the accident for which ended so tragically, asked Brother Vladimir to replace him on tour. And he agreed, leaving the arena after three days. None of the spectators passed the ticket, although the elder brother managed to get out on the basic stunts only a month later.
Upon learning of the tragedy, Edgard Zapashny arrived in Redkino. Once his grandfather killed gangrene. He understood that in a small village it was difficult to leave a seriously ill colleague in a small village, so he called I. Kobzon asking for help with moving to the Institute. Vishnevsky. In the fate of Vitaly took part not only friends, but also previously unfamiliar people. The artist was transported to Moscow, where, after 5 weeks of resuscitation, a long process of recovery began.
Vitaly Smolianets was discharged from the hospital only at the end of April. Belief helped him to fight for his life that even without legs he would be able to return to the profession. The Russian State Circus in the person of Vadim Gagloyev not only retained the attraction, but also allocated two million for the purchase of prostheses, on which the Paralympic champions set their records. The rest of the amount (3 million rubles) was collected by friends who did not leave a friend in need. After being discharged, the trainer immediately went to Bryansk, where his pets were on tour. It was the most touching meeting that is possible between humans and animals.
Who are the people for whom Vitaly Smolianets, a world-famous trainer, sacrificed his life? Driver Ilya Manukhov all the time visited the rescuer during treatment. Words became a revelation for him, when Vitaly admitted that he regretted nothing, and could hardly have done otherwise. Passenger Sergei Suslov spent a month in a coma. He remembers nothing from the minute he fell asleep on the way in the passenger seat. Today, a young man lives a normal life, although his speech is slightly hindered, and the consequences of severe injuries are felt. But the wife and two small children are a weighty reason to rejoice at every moment of the life once again presented.
Only the driver of the truck appeared on the threshold of the hospital only once, in order to find out whether the victim would initiate a criminal case concerning the accident. Vitaly believes that today nothing can be corrected, so there is no point in looking for the guilty. We must find ways to return to the system.
Return to service
In August 2015, Vitaly Smolyanets embarked on prostheses, and in September he began rehearsing a number. Inna's wife made the decision to go to the attraction to her husband, to always be close, even in the circus arena. The artist had no doubt that he would be able to enter the cage of animals that recognize him as a leader, even if he enters there in a wheelchair. But he was worried about the reaction of the audience: will they be able to overlook his crutches and won't his appearance cause pity?
The first performance took place in December 2015 in Rostov. The artist used crutches instead of the stack and was so focused on what was happening in the cage, that for a moment it seemed to him: the stands did not react to his stunts. But when the number ended, he heard deafening applause from the audience, standing up to greet the artist and a really strong person. For the lions will never believe the weak.