Pasha Kovalev has announced that he is standing down as a professional on Strictly Come Dancing.
The 39-year-old Russian performer has had a memorable run on the beeb series which he joined in 2011 – he found love after being partnered with Countdown‘s Rachel Riley in 2013 and won the show with presenter Caroline Flack in 2014.
Pasha announced his departure on Twitter today (13th February).
“After scoring 93 perfect tens, reaching 4 finals and lifting 1 Glitterball, it’s time for me to find a new challenge and so I’ve decided to make last year my final season on Strictly,” he wrote. “I’ve had eight fantastic years full of wonderful memories, thanks to the incredible partners, professionals and myriad of behind the scenes teams who all work to make Strictly the amazing production that it is. The biggest thanks goes to all the members of the public who’ve supported me so much over these years – I look forward to seeing you on the Strictly Pro-Tour this spring, and for many future adventures to come!”
As well as his victory with Love Island host Caroline, his partnerships with actress Chelsee Healey, Girls Aloud’s Kimberley Wash and Pussycat Doll Ashley Roberts also saw him reach the final in 2011, 2012 and 2018 respectively.
Pasha and Ashley’s average score of 36.9 is the highest a partnership has achieved on the show to date. Conversely, the casting of Roberts as a contestant drew criticism with her prior dance experience being noted as an ‘unfair advantage’.
In an official statement on Twitter, Strictly Come Dancing confirmed Pasha’s withdrawal from the show.
“Pasha is an incredibly talented and dedicated dancer who is much-loved by his Strictly family and viewers and will be hugely missed. Since joining the show in 2011, he has competed in eight series, made it to four finals and was crowned champion with Caroline Flack in 2014. We would like to thank him for everything he has contributed to the show over the years and wish him the very best for the future.” – Strictly Come Dancing