Simon's skating experience in Hatfield

HAVING never been able to skate in any form, including roller skating, I highly expected my first experience on the ice to be a complete disaster, writes Simon Wesson. I am not exactly known for a great sense of balance either, so the

HAVING never been able to skate in any form, including roller skating, I highly expected my first experience on the ice to be a complete disaster, writes Simon Wesson.

I am not exactly known for a great sense of balance either, so the initial thought of me being placed on a highly slippery surface with just a few millimetres of metal to balance on was indeed a scary proposition - and something I presumed would end up in a whole world of pain.

However, I needn't have worried - mainly thanks to the brilliant coaching of the former number two skater in England, Alan Abretti, who was giving me tuition for the day.

Alan, who is the operations manager at Cousins Entertainment - the company which has set up the arena in the Galleria and is owned by Olympic champion Robin Cousins - had me gliding up and down the real ice rink within 20 minutes of starting.


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And by the end of the session I was even going backwards!

But it didn't all start off this way.

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A former member of the British Olympic ice dancing team, Alan said the key for me was to learn the basics, so that I would have the foundation knowledge of how to skate.

I think beforehand I would have just been happy to be able to stand on the ice. And that was my initial task as I nervously took my first few steps on to the glistening surface, tightly holding onto the sidings for dear life.

Once I managed to prize myself away from the side we went through what we were going to do.

First he explained the key was balance.

Bending forward from the ankles slightly, making sure I didn't look down, while stretching out my arms to the perfect position and keeping as still as possible, I stood up and began to make tiny steps away from the side.

I felt like this was an experience that could only get better from here onwards and I may start to enjoy it.

Once we got a little further with walking and I grew in confidence a bit, I learnt that to glide across the ice takes a good technique.

It involves bending of the knees and instead of trying to physically walk you have to try to lift your feet flat.

After slowly crossing the rink a few times Alan then suggested I tried going backwards, he said I was unlikely to fall as the brain over compensates for going backwards and slowly I achieved that as well.

Amazed by the end of my hour-long lesson that I didn't fall over once, nor indeed hurt myself at all, I have caught the ice skating bug and now I cant wait to get back out there.

However, a few more lessons are definitely needed first!

For your own lessons and more information visit www.iceskating.org.uk/skateuk/skateukhome

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