Sunday saw the opening of the new Cambridge Ice Arena with a Gala including eight British Champions, a range of future stars and those that have only just started their skating journey.
It was a very special event introducing figure skating in all of its facets to the people of Cambridgeshire. The Gala was performed in front of a full house of enthusiastic spectators who then took to the ice afterwards and were helped by our skaters to learn and take their first steps on the ice.
There were some tremendous programmes led by Graham Newberry and Natasha McKay who produced two tremendous performances to bookend the Gala, a combination of their technical performance and interpretation was really appreciated by the audience. Dani Harrison and Karly Robertson both produced enchanting performances to show the depth of ladies free skating in the UK the core du prix from Dundee. We also had Emily Thomson and Lucy Hay from Dundee who are Novice skaters and earmarked to be champions of the future. They both performed superbly and weren’t overawed by the champion names they were skating alongside. From the dance world we had Junior champions Sasha Fear and George Waddell who wowed the audience with some of their big powerful lifts, alongside Lucy Hancock and Billy Wilson-French performing their exciting long programme. Phebe Bekker and Theodore Alexander, and Ashlie Slatter and Atl Ongay-Perez are both on the GLL Foundation Programme and as operators of the rink they were their representatives performing their programmes for the season. Both were real crowd pleasers. Olivia Jenkinson and Stanley Evans produced a really engaging performance, coached by Ed Barker who will be working from the new rink. Sophie Barnes is a local skater and having overcome a series of medical issues over the last 12 months performed faultlessly and showed what can be achieved in a reasonably short period of time. Team Phoenix closed the Gala in great fashion astonishing the new audience with the skill and camaraderie of synchro.
The local audiences were really taken by both the champions quality but also the recognition that they could perform like Sophie, Emily or even Lucy and Ashlie and Atl if they really put their minds to it over the next few years. A combination of senior elite skaters and local performers really made it a special event and a pathway for a whole range of new skaters in Cambridge.
The ice rink developed by Cool Venues is a prototype for a whole range of new rinks around the UK and along with GLL, the operator, we can only thank all the skaters once again for a tremendous performance and real example of how sport can change everybody’s lives in such a positive way.