Cousins has high hopes for British Figure Skating

04 December 2014 / 17:07

It’s been 20 years since Great Britain last claimed a figure skating medal at a Winter Olympic Games – Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean adding ice dancing bronze to the famous gold they claimed at Sarajevo 1984.

And while it is just over three years until the next opportunity to change that arrives at Pyeongchang 2018, Great Britain is in a strong position to finally bid for success again, according to 1980 men’s singles champion Robin Cousins.

Currently leading the way is three-time British ice dance champions Penny Coomes and Nicholas Buckland – the duo finishing 10th-place on their second Winter Games appearance in Sochi last February a month after claiming the first European medal of their career with bronze in Budapest.

The duo have continued their form into the new season, picking up the 2014 International Cup of Nice and NRW Trophy titles before securing another career first with bronze at the 2014 Rostelcom Cup for their first Grand Prix medal.

And Cousins – who won Britain’s last individual figure skating Olympic medal at Lake Placid 1980 – believes their form bodes well for further silverware at the next European Championships in Stockholm early next year.

“Nick and Penny have had a good start to the season,” said Cousins, who is high performance programme manager for the National Ice Skating Association’s (NISA) World Class Figure Skating Programme.

“They knew exactly what happened in Sochi. But that is over now, this is a new start.

“You learn from experience. There was a lot of pressure on them following their success in the 2014 Europeans. But that almost came about by default as there were a lot of people not there competing.

“They know how well they can skate. They are a lovely couple, they skate well together and they are well liked internationally.

“They are definitely contenders for medals at the Europeans, it’s just a case of seeing what colour it will be.”

Coomes and Buckland are not carrying the flag for the sport alone however, with plenty of impressive performances at last weekend’s British Championships.

The pair were absent from the competition – attention switched instead to securing a fifth-place finish at the NHK Trophy in Osaka, Japan – although the Buckland family were still celebrating domestic success with younger brother Joseph and his partner Olivia Smart taking the ice dance title after three successive junior wins in recent years.

This summer NISA was awarded more than £1.5 million from UK Sport for its figure skating high performance programmes for the next four years in recognition of the talent within the sport and its medal potential for the next Winter Olympics and beyond.

And Cousins believes that it is important that Britain’s skaters, young and old, make the most of the opportunity to perform at the highest level.

“What we are finding across the sport worldwide is that the standard at junior level is so high and that many juniors are quickly stepping up to feature prominently on the senior circuit,” he added.

“Nick and Penny will be one of the big hopes at Pyeongchang and you’d hope we’ll finally get back on the medal rostrum but it’s also about identifying and guiding the young talent in the right direction with the right honesty.

“With the high class performance program in place, it is great to have that support and it makes sure everyone is on track to go for their targets and do the best they can.

“But they have to earn the right to have all this support and by that, they have to deliver.”