Natalie Cunningham Dallas talks about her career as a figure skater and coach in Scotland and the challenges that have led her to believe Glasgow needs a new ice centre

I fell in love with ice skating watching the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympic Games at the age of three and began competing in figure skating events at just eight years old. I went on to win British and Scottish Championship titles in my competitive career, and was part of the National Team representing Great Britain in International Skating Union events all over the world.

After years of competing and travelling all over the UK and Europe to train, I turned professional – skating for over twelve years as a Soloist and Pair skater with companies such as Disney On Ice, Holiday On Ice, Global International Shows, Willy Bietak Productions on board Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines and Robin Cousins ‘Ice’.

These days, I work with Auchenharvie and Ayr Figure Skating Clubs coaching all aspects of Skating both on and off the ice to a wide range of students – from the First Steps in Skate UK to competitive skating, I have athletes on the National Development Squad, British Championship medallists and a number of my students represent Great Britain all over Europe and Australia. I’m also proud to work with Inclusive Skating, teaching a number of students with additional challenges all the skills they need to compete on the ice.

When I was young, I had the opportunity to train in quite a few different ice rinks in and around the Glasgow area which made it possible for me to achieve my goals. I loved having the access to ice seven days a week which allowed me to flourish and develop into the professional figure skater I became. I had the pleasure of skating in some of the largest Arenas, Cruise Ships and Theatres around the world playing to both large and intimate audiences. One of my favourite moments was performing in Glasgow SEC in front of a home crowd – none of this would be possible if I hadn’t had access to ice when I was young allowing me to put in all the hours of training.

Some of the most talented skaters in Scotland that I have the pleasure to coach must travel up to forty miles to their nearest available ice rinks because sadly, there is no ice at all in Glasgow. I would love to see a new facility built as this would open up so many opportunities for all the ice sports and also allow the people of Glasgow and surrounding areas the chance to get involved and give figure skating a try. Being able to give all sorts of people from Glasgow with untapped talent and passion the opportunity to participate in Ice Sports – taking it all the way to the Olympics, would be a dream come true to me.

Right now, with limited ice rinks and ice time available, so many talented young athletes don’t get the chance to take the sport to the next level which is such a shame. Some families just can’t make the long commute to the nearest facilities which makes me very sad. Skating is my life and I love the fact that I’ve been able to transform my childhood dreams into a reality.

I understand the level of dedication it takes from skaters and parents to thrive and compete in sport, and when such a large commute is involved, it definitely has a detrimental effect on everyone. There’s much more expense and time involved, often at unsocial hours.

We need a new Glasgow Ice Centre to allow the sport that I and many others love to grow and prosper. Let’s make it happen!

Natalie Cunningham Dallas