First Glide Back To Normality

Molly Mitchell-Knight

Last weekend Scotland sat back and watched as England’s skaters took their first steps back on the ice since March. Just two days before, it had been confirmed that ice rinks in England could reopen on the 15th August – a great relief to the thousands of skaters who had felt left behind with recent decisions to delay reopening.

At the end of July skating clubs across England began preparations to return to the ice on the 1st August. After governmental reconsideration, it was suddenly deemed unsafe for this to happen and we saw many unhappy reactions from the skating community.

The sport, which includes singles skating, speed skating, synchro, pairs and ice dance, was feeling overlooked in Great Britain, as announcements were including ice rinks alongside leisure activities such as bingo halls and casinos, and not being given status as an Olympic sport. This is disappointing given our considerable track record- Torvill and Dean, Robin Cousins and John Curry to name a few, and not forgetting our current Olympic hopefuls such as Lewis Gibson and Lilah Fear.

Figure skating is a sport that sees athletes train between three and eight times a week, both before and after school, work, college and university. The success we see from skaters of all disciplines comes from a massive amount of time, effort and dedication.

The frustrations expressed by the figure skaters in Britain came from the knowledge that competitive progress for their sport had been unfairly hindered as it is viewed as a recreational activity. We saw famous faces take to social media and the ‘Back on the Ice’ campaign kicked off.

Skaters and coaches used #BackOnTheIce, #OverlookedOlympicSport and #SportNotLeisure to raise awareness of the importance of reopening our ice rinks and the detrimental effects keeping them closed will have on the progression of our country’s current and future athletes.

With the exception of ice rinks in areas which have been placed in local lockdowns due to an increase in coronavirus cases, the ice rinks in England are back in business and our up and coming stars are now able to get back to doing what they do best, although I’m sure there are a few blisters this week after five months without being in skates!

Now that skaters in England are able to return to the sport they love it gives some hope for Scotland that we might follow in their footsteps soon. Scotland has not yet been given a concrete date for when this might happen, so the campaigns continue to spread all over social media to ensure this is made a priority.

Elite curlers have been able to return to training under strict social distancing measures and so we hope that all the ice sports will be back in action by the middle of September – it can’t come soon enough. The Scottish Government should be announcing a review on Thursday 20th August. We’ll be watching and hoping for the news we all want to hear.

We can’t wait to have Scotland #BackOnTheIce !