The Isle of Wight’s budding young ice skaters may not have a rink, but they are not going to let that stop them as they go into their final competition of the season today (Friday).
Listen: Isle of Wight Radio paid the skaters without a rink a visit ahead of the tournament.
The Wight Sequins, the Wight Crystals and the Wight Sparkles synchronised teams have made the gruelling five hour-or-so journey to Sheffield to take part in the Steel City Trophy.
They are hoping to carry on their recent success – with some teams claiming silverware at the British Synchronised Skating Championships in Nottingham in January.
The Wight Sparkles claimed silver and the Island’s senior team the Wight Jewells came third.
Meanwhile, the Island’s youngsters, the Wight Sequins came sixth, and the Wight Crystals came fourth.
Coach, Terri Smith, says all of the team’s achievements are incredible – considering they do not have any ice to practice on:
“These teams were training every week when we were on the Island and now some of them are training every other week for half an hour.
“So to even compete against teams that are training weekly for an hour compared to our half an hour fortnightly and we’re still beating most of them – it’s amazing.
“I would never thought I would still be coaching these teams and obviously they’re still going. That’s despite the skaters born on the Island still getting up at 3 o’clock in the morning to get the 4 o’clock ferry on a Sunday morning. So that dedication from these skaters shows strength really.”
Ryde Arena closed its doors around three years ago. Most recently, a dispute over the rink’s lease was referred to arbitration, as reported by Isle of Wight Radio.
WATCH: Isle of Wight Radio took a sneak peak at the Wight Crystals routine before their trip to Sheffield.
And, the Island’s skaters admit they are disappointed to still see it shut.
13-year-old Jess Curtis, who skates for both the Sparkles and Crystals, says:
“Obviously it’s upsetting but it’s also disappointing that we’ve been fighting for it and nothing’s happening. To know we can’t skate as much as we used to [is disappointing].”
Fellow skater Louisa Young, 12, says winning competitions helps her and her teammates “prove people wrong”:
“Because we don’t have an ice rink people think that we are going to come last because they know that we don’t practice a lot. So to come first would prove people wrong. It’s very sad [that we don’t have an ice rink]. It was like our second home. We used to go there and practice all the time and it was so much cheaper.”
The competition gets underway at 2pm this afternoon (Friday).
The Wight Sequins are due to take to the ice at 2.30pm, the Wight Crystals at 3.54pm, and the Wight Sparkles at 4.17pm.
This will then be followed by trophy presentations at 5.12pm.
Jess says the teams cannot wait to get going:
“We’re really excited because we’ve never done Sheffield before and in Wight Crystals there are quite a few skaters unable to go. So we’ve had to skate with 14 rather than 16 – but apart from that we’re feeling quite confident.”
You can watch a live stream of the skating, here.