The first ever GB Short Track Speed Skating Skills School took place on 22nd October 2017 at the National Ice Centre in Nottingham. The day was well attended with 16 young skaters from around the country, who signed up for a day of learning about balance, speed and agility.
The session, for junior club skaters who had already started their journey in the sport, was led by Olympian and former GB Short Track Speed Skater Richard Shoebridge, and was supported by four Short Track coaches.
Former relay world record holder Richard said after the first Skills School: "It was great to see the younger athletes being proactive and seeking out extra learning opportunities through our Skills School Programme. It is their choice to sign up and attend, and to see so many actively involved and wanting to learn is great for the future potential of these athletes.
“Skills School provides additional ice time focused solely on skating skills, something there may not be time for at club sessions where training programs are being conducted.
“There has been a lot of positive feedback after day one of Skills School and it seemed that the athletes were able to learn and have fun, which at this age is one of the most important goals for us as a programme.
“With greater participation in Skills School we will hopefully see even better quality club sessions in the future as the athletes become more agile and more skilled on their skates. This will in turn lead to strong applications on to the GB Short Track Academy Programme and ultimately the World Class Programme."
The National Ice Skating Association in partnership with GB Short Track have designed the Skills School programme with the aim of developing up and coming speed skaters from regional clubs. The one day camps in Nottingham will each have a different focus for the athletes and there will be a mix of on-ice, off-ice and workshop sessions, where they will get the opportunity to learn the technical and tactical aspects of the sport.
The Skills School programme has been put in place with the support of the International Skating Union (ISU), and is aimed at active club skaters aged 11 - 16 years old who have been members of a speed skating club for at least six months.
This development of club athletes is to help best prepare them for introduction into future performance programmes such as the GB Short Track Academy (selected 15-18 year olds) and the World Class Programme, the highest level of British Short Track Speed Skaters who train full time and compete globally.
The National Ice Centre is the home of the World Class Programme, and British Champion Billy Simms was on hand to support the first Skills School session before travelling to Asia with the rest of the GB Short Track team for the final Olympic qualifying events of the season which start this Thursday in Shanghai, China.
Billy said: “Skills Schools gives an opportunity for more club skaters to develop and learn new skills which are the foundation to becoming an all round skater. It was great to see how much all the athletes enjoyed the whole day. I am looking forward to seeing the programme grow and develop and ultimately feed more skaters onto the Academy and beyond”.
The second in the series of Skills School sessions will take place on Saturday 9th December with the theme of ‘Technical Basics - Edges and Weight Transfer’. Registration opens from this Thursday 9th November until Thursday 23rd November.
For further information on Skills School and how to apply, visit the GB Short Track website.
To be informed of camp and application deadline announcements, progress of the programme and more, please sign up to the NISA mailing list by clicking here
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Image credit: Martin Holtom