European hopes dashed after illness hits Buckland brothers

30 January 2015 / 11:29

Former Olympic champion Robin Cousins has backed Britain’s leading ice dance skaters to bounce back strongly after illness forced them to withdraw from the European Figure Skating Championships in Stockholm.

Current British champions Olivia Smart and Joe Buckland were the first to pull out prior to the event starting on Wednesday after the latter was hit with a sickness bug.

Two-time Olympians Penny Coomes and Nick Buckland initially took to the ice in Sweden, placing tenth after the short skate program.

But the duo, who were looking to add to the European bronze they claimed last year as well as the two international events they have already won this season, did not appear for Thursday’s free dance with Buckland also suffering from the same illness as his brother.

The World Figure Skating Championships take place in Shanghai from March 23-29 and Cousins, who is high performance manager for athletes on the world class programme at the National Ice Skating Association, admitted his disappointment his skaters were unable to show what they could do on the European stage first up.

“It’s obviously a great disappointment that our two ice dance couples have had to withdraw from the European Championships due to illness, particularly considering that they’ve worked so hard for this,” he said.

“There is no way either of them could have performed at any level. As siblings who train together every day, it’s really hit them hard, particularly as this was Olivia and Joe’s first time competing at the Europeans.

“Both couples were on fire in advance of the event and everyone was geared up for some strong performances.

“They demonstrated what they’re capable of in rehearsals here and hopefully they’ll get the opportunity to show the world at the ISU Shanghai World Championships in March.”

© Sportsbeat 2015