Not long to go until the British Solo Ice Dance Championships begin in Sheffield.
ICESheffield will host the NISA British Solo Ice Dance Championships, which kick off on 14th July and end on the 16th.
The competition will see 115 skaters flock to Sheffield, all hoping to be crowned National Ice Dance Champion in their category.
Competitors, who will come from all over the UK, are preparing to put their best foot forward and earn a place on the podium next month.
Amongst them is Lillie Pang, the youngest competitor to skate in Sheffield. She’s perfecting her patterns, and her smile, for the Judges in July.
Lillie, who recently celebrated her ninth birthday, began skating when she was just two and a half years old.
She took private lessons aged three at her local ice rink with Kelly Shinfield, gaining special permission to complete the Skate UK Course, which is aimed at age five and above.
Lillie wanted to follow in her sister’s footsteps, 12-year-old Alana Pang, who is also set to compete in the Solo’s next month.
Alana competed in the British Figure Skating Championships last year and came 2nd in the Juvenile Solo Ice Dance.
Alana is currently ranked 1st in the primary section in Solo Ice Dance. She fell in love with skating after attending a play session on ice when she was just four.
Mum of Alana and Lillie, Caroline, says Lillie has always been inspired by her sister, and at the age of five was the youngest skater at her local club in Nottinghamshire.
Now Lillie and Alana train 15 hours a week at ICESheffield with their coach and former World and European Championship competitor Mark Hanretty, who many may recognise as a professional skater on the TV Show ‘Dancing on Ice'.
They have based their training in Sheffield for the past year and a half, representing ICESheffield at all competitions.
Lillie recently moved from Beginner to Level 4 and has spent the last four weeks polishing up her new patterns.
Lillie said: “I’m really looking forward to the Solos. I listen to my music all the time, especially when mum is doing the washing up.
“I feel really happy when I’m skating and I love practising with my coach, Mark. He says I am an Ice Princess.”
Lillie adds that she thinks the more cakes she eats ahead of a competition, the better she skates. (#Lilliestoptip)
Mum Caroline said: “I’m very proud of both Lillie and Alana. Lillie is not concerned at all that she’s the youngest - she would love to win but if she’s done her best she’s always happy.
“She doesn’t stop smiling when she’s on the ice – especially in the judges' direction!
“Both Lillie and Alana would love to find a skating partner and go as far as possible skating as a pair.
“At the moment Lillie’s younger brother Clark, who is just three, acts as her skating partner off ice. He does his best and she adores him but I know she’d like to find someone she can compete as a pair with. As would Alana.”
Like many competitors, the sisters are looking forward to reuniting with fellow skaters and good friends at the event.
Many will also be hoping to form a skating pair through the large competition, which attracts skaters of varying abilities and ages from all over the UK. And the sisters are just a few of a large number who are hoping to pack a punch at the competition, which is set to be as exciting as ever.
We want to wish everyone competing the very best of luck ahead of the British Solo Ice Dance Championship in July.
We’d love to see how you’re preparing for the competition, whether that’s by upping your ice time, listening to your pattern music - or eating cakes.
We’re always on the lookout for people to join our brilliant team of volunteers to help us at competitions like the Solos.
Get in touch if you’re interested in becoming an ice skating volunteer with NISA.