Olympic figure skaters are calling for more provision for winter sports in Lancashire.
Eight-time British national champions Stacey Kemp, 29, and David King, 33, want to see ice rinks in the Preston, Chorley and South Ribble areas.
“When we started we were training together in Blackburn but they didn’t have enough ice time to train at an elite level so we had to go abroad to train, first to Poland and then to America,” said Stacey, who is originally from Clayton-le-Woods.
“I used to go before and after school everyday. Any ice times they used to give us were during really rubbish hours so I used to be on the ice at 5am each day. It’s a lot of dedication from your parents as well, who knows how they did it waiting for us in the freezing ice rinks in the mornings.”
The closest ice rinks to Preston are in Blackburn, Blackpool, which is not a full size ice rink, and Altrincham. “They’re saying that Great Britain isn’t good at winter sports but there just aren’t the facilities or backing for the athletes,” said Stacey, who is now introducing her seven-month old baby Ethan to the rink. “There’s talent, it’s a shame there’s no backing or facilities.
“We’ve actually been trying to look into this for a long time. There’s not enough ice rinks in the UK full stop compared to other countries in order to train to compete.
“It’s also about the whole set up - having a complex, so a gym, dance studio and physios. Not many people can just go abroad to train. If you look at athletes now they all train abroad and some aren’t even British.
“Even if you look at the funding between winter and summer sports there’s a huge difference.”
To go ice skating now the couple, who live in David’s hometown of Carlisle, have a round trip of almost two hours to get to their nearest rink in Dumfries.
Their good friends and fellow figure skaters on the world stage Louise Walden, 34, and Owen Edwards, 30, in Buckshaw Village, are also backing the call for more ice rinks in the area.
As youngsters they also had to go abroad train in France. “It would be fabulous if we could have an ice rink in Buckshaw Village or Chorley,” said Louise, who with her partner on and off the ice Owen, are international gold medalists. “We are in a great location between two motorways.”
Louise also told the
Post that she felt that the
disparity of funding between the winter and summer sports was partly down to the British climate.