This weekend (24-26th October), British speed skaters will be in action at the Star Class Cup in Dresden, Germany. Nine members of GB Short Track’s World Class Performance Programme will be competing against the best skaters in Europe to battle it out for a place in the final.
This is the first of six Star Class events scheduled for the 2014-15 season, which culminate with the Europa Cup Finals in March next year. The final will see the fastest eight skaters in each age group category from East and West Europe go on to battle it out for a podium place.
Murray Cochrane, Billy Simms and Josh Cheetham will compete in the senior men’s event, while Charlotte Gilmartin will be representing Great Britain in the senior women’s competition. Aydin Djemal will race in the male Junior A (U19) category with Jack Burrows and Jonathan Moody competing in the men’s Junior B (U17) events.
Also joining the British team are Kathryn Thomson and Jennifer Pickering, who will both be competing in the women’s Junior A category.
Across the course of the competition, the skaters – who were selected at the National Squad Open Trials in September this year – will compete over three distances against some of Europe’s top skaters.
Performance Director, Stuart Horsepool commented from Dresden: “The Star Class Cup provides these young athletes with an opportunity to try out new skills and get into the competition mindset. The skaters have all been with us for varying lengths of time and those with more experience are likely to do better. Results aren’t our main driver this weekend though; we are here to gain valuable experience on the international circuit and I want the athletes to focus on developing their racing technique”.
The Star Class Cup is supported and funded by the International Skating Union. Following the first event in the series this weekend, the next event will take place in Bormio, Italy between 6-9th November, followed by an event at the National Ice Centre in January.
Elise Christie shone at the Invitation Cup in Heerenveen, Holland this weekend (18-19th October) after winning two individual distances (1000m and 1500m) to finish first in the overall classification on points. This is her fifth consecutive win at the competition, which sees the squad compete in their first international race of the 2014-15 season.
Christie commented on her win: “It was great to be back competing this weekend and to come away with a good result. The first international race of the season is always a challenge, as you are going into it blind without really knowing who your key competition is, but I was confident amongst the other skaters and was able to use it as an opportunity to try different tactics and sharpen my skills. I will try to take as much as I can from here and build on it going into Salt Lake City.”
Performance Director, Stuart Horsepool said: “Elise really stood out as the winner in the women’s racing from the start this weekend. She was much stronger than the other girls, which meant that she has been able to use the competition as an opportunity to try out different strategies and ways of racing, yet still finish in top position.
“As we focus our attention towards the World Cup Series which starts next month, Elise will begin to come up against her main competition in some of the Korean, Chinese and Canadian skaters. These races will be more of a challenge for her, so having this opportunity to perfect her skills and put everything from training into practice in a competitive environment has been invaluable going into the start of the season”.
In the men’s competition, Jack Whelbourne skated consistently to take second place in the overall classification after racing through to the final of the 1000m and winning. On Saturday, he came second in 1500m, coming in closely behind Hungary’s Sandor Liu Shaolin. Charlotte Gilmartin also put in some good performances to finish third in the 1500m, which put her in fifth place overall in the women’s event.
There was also a top ten overall classification finish from Richard Shoebridge who finished ninth, and the men’s relay team finished third behind Hungary and the Netherlands. Unfortunately, Jon Eley didn’t skate on Sunday due to a hamstring strain.
The event was a preparation competition for the squad ahead of the start of the ISU World Cup Series, which begins early next month (7-9th November) in Salt Lake City.
Stuart said he was pleased with the whole squad’s performance in Heerenveen, where they have beaten some of the best teams in Europe, including the Dutch who are reigning world champions. He added:
“It was a good competition overall. The first day was a bit of a shake up for the squad after some initial performances that weren’t quite up to standard, but they soon got into their stride and started skating well, with some good results to back it up. The idea of a preparation competition is that the athletes get back into competing, because even though training is of course vital, the nature of short track means that you also have to be sharp when you race.
“Elise and Jack did well this weekend, but the true value of this competition is not the titles they have won here, but the race practice that they and the squad now take into the World Cup in a few weeks time.”
The squad now begin their final preparations for the opening ISU World Cup in Salt Lake City on 7-9th November, followed by the second stage in Montreal on the 14-16th November.
We’ve got plenty to keep the family entertained this half-term including skating sessions every day of the week, Parent & Toddler sessions, Learn to Skate courses, student offers and a Halloween Skating Party!
Try a Parent & Toddler skating session this half-term. It’s an Ideal activity for children aged between 18 months and five years and we’ve got a special Parent & Toddler Halloween party taking place on 31 October (12-1pm).
Why not try something new this half-term and learn to skate? Our six week course starts W/C 27 October. If you can’t commit to a six week course, give our intensive course a whirl and fit a six week course into just three one hour sessions over three days. Click here for more details.
Our Halloween Skating Party will take place on Friday 31 October! It starts at 7:30pm and tickets are priced at £6 per person (plus skate hire).
Plus, students can come and skate for just £5 including skate hire with a valid NUS student card –cheap as chips!
For details on all the activities and events taking place at the National Ice Centre this half-term, click here or call 0843 373 3000.
Due to the popularity of public skating sessions and Parent & Toddler sessions over the half term, please allow plenty of time to get down to the NIC to queue for the session of your choice.
A youngster from Nottingham is the coolest on the ice after gliding through all of her Skate UK awards – at only five years old.
Alexa Butler, who has lessons at Nottingham’s National Ice Centre (NIC), is one of the youngest skaters to ever pass level 8 of Skate UK’s Learn to Skate programme.
Skate UK is the approved Learn to Skate course which teaches ice skating skills for skaters of all ages in eight stages.
Alexa, who began skating at the National Ice Centre at just four years old, said: “Ice skating is my favourite sport. I love doing spirals and going backwards on the ice.”
Her dad, Alisdair, is proud of what she’s achieved: “We’re really pleased. She’s a smart little girl and she’s worked very hard.
“I’m an ice skater and Alexa’s Granny was a figure skater too, so with such a passion for the sport in our family, we’re keen to keep her progressing but without putting pressure on her.
“The National Ice Centre’s facilities are brilliant and the coaches are all highly trained and committed. I don’t think there would have been many other places where Alexa would have progressed as well as she has done here.”
Alexa will now work towards competing in the sport.
Rebecca Corne, ice skating support officer for NISA, said: “It’s inspiring to see such a wonderful, young talent take to the ice and excel at such a young age.“Alexa has a real flair for figure skating and she has clearly got what it takes to have a fantastic future on the rink.”
The National Ice Centre teaches Skate UK lessons to all ages and abilities, from Skate UK Tots sessions to specially allocated adult courses. Click here for more information about the courses or call 0843 373 3000.