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Penny Coomes and Nick Buckland reflect on the British Figure Skating Championships

Olympic Blog

December 3, 2013 14:16 pm

Penny Coomes

The British Championships is a competition that Nick and I look forward to every year. We spend the majority of our time in America where we have been training under two-time Olympic champion Evgeny Platov for the past four years.  The British Championships is one of the only opportunities we have to compete in England, and it's very important for us to be able to come home and perform in front of our friends and families.

We spent two weeks leading up to the Championships training at the National Ice Centre in Nottingham, where Nick and I began skating together eight years ago. We were able to fix the technical issues we had experienced at our last competition in Paris. Our practices here had been going well, we were ready. 

For me, the most nerve racking part of the competition takes place off the ice. All the competitors and officials meet on the evening prior to the competition and the skaters draw their starting order. I'm not too sure why I get so nervous but perhaps it's because it's the first official part of the competition, once you have drawn your starting number, the competition begins. Nick always draws our starting number because I am too nervous to do it myself!  In figure skating there is a draw at every event but it is a British tradition to dress up, and I think it's nice to see everyone looking smart.

Nick and I drew first to skate, which has the advantage of not having to wait around and get cold after the warm up, although it can be quite nice to have a few minutes to catch your breath and collect your thoughts if you don't skate first. Luckily, in training Nick and I practice skating in every starting order so we are ready for any number that gets pulled out the bag. 

On the day of the competition the skaters have a 30 minute practice in the morning a few hours before you are scheduled to compete in the afternoon. Typically, Nick and I will start warming up about an hour before the practice. We like to get our bodies going by jogging, going through our programmes and lifts on the floor, and also stretching. On the ice each couple has their music played while the judges and technical panel watch and assess our potential levels, but it's also good for us to get a feel of the ice and have a skate before we compete later in the day. 

Competitions days are quite quiet for us compared to an average training day - which consists of several hours of on and off ice training with small breaks. Although competitions can be stressful or nerve racking we actually get to rest a lot more at a competition. 

Unfortunately, we didn't have the best skate in the Short Dance this year. I fell going into one of the elements and I did not manage to pick it up in time so we lost out on a lot of points. It was quite a costly mistake. The fall took me by surprise, as it happened on an element that I felt very confident with; I just went down out of nowhere! Sometimes these things do happen and it is a lesson to be learnt. I was really disappointed afterwards, but I am a fighter and I knew that our Free Dance would be a completely different story! 

The following the day Nick and I skated our Michael Jackson themed Free Dance. I was a little more nervous than I usually am because I wanted to skate well. After you have a bad skate you almost feel like you have something to prove and I was definitely eager to do that.  We both skated really well and we managed to significantly improve our scores from our previous competition and set a new season’s best.

So we did it, we won the British title for the third consecutive time! We are so pleased and we feel very honoured to bring home the very same trophy won by figure skating legends Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean!

The hard work doesn’t stop and now our focus goes towards preparations for the European Championships in January. 

Nick Buckland

The day after the free dance Penny and I still had a busy day ahead of us. The National ice Skating Association had set up a day of media interviews and talks from various speakers in preparation for the Olympics in Sochi. 

One of the guest speakers was Robin Cousins who is also one of the Team GB ambassadors for the Sochi Games. Getting to hear from Robin and be given advice was great. We really enjoyed his insight into his own experience as an Olympic gold medallist and we look forward to him playing a part in our preparation over the next few months!

As we came away from a long weekend being at the British Championships we left really excited about what the future holds! We have a tough period of training ahead of us but we are ready for everything that will be thrown at us! Our next stop is the European Championships in Hungary which is only a short time before the Olympics itself! We will be sure to keep everybody updated as we get closer but for now we better get back to training and our preparation for the most important part of the season!