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BILLINGHAM BLADES OF GLORY

It has been an unbelievable 10 months for a pair of figure skaters from Billingham. 28 years ago, 53 year old Elaine Christopher and 44 year old Michelle Jones, hung up their boots and retired from the sport….until recently. The pair stepped back onto the ice for the first time in nearly 3 decades at the Make Your Move on Monday’s ladies only session at Billingham Forum Ice Arena.

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Posted on 30th June 2017

The funded scheme encourages female participation in sport and welcomes ladies of all ages and abilities to the weekly Monday night session. After a few weeks the Billingham duo found their feet once more and enrolled onto private lessons with expert ice skating coach, Alison Laws.

Fast-forward a few months into April of this year, where the pair competed at the British Championships in Sheffield. In their first national competitive event Elaine finished 7th overall and 2nd in her respective age category and Michelle finished both 1st in her age category and 1st in the overall competition. A fantastic achievement for both skaters, and they didn’t stop there!

One month later, the pair headed to Germany to compete in the Oberstdorf Adult International Championships, competing against rivals from Japan, USA, Russia, Mexico, Canada and a whole host of other European countries. In the Singles Bronze Ladies Artistic category Elaine claimed 4th prize overall in her age group and Michelle took the bronze medal in her respective age group. Incredibly, in the Single Bronze Ladies Free category, the pair claimed a further two medals. Elaine took the silver medal in her age group and Michelle won the gold. The pair helped Team GB finish 2nd overall at the event, the best result Team GB has ever achieved at the Oberstdorf Adult International Championships.

Their coach Alison was first to praise the two, ‘“What Elaine and Michelle have achieved is fantastic in such a short space of time. I am so proud of them both. When they first got back onto the ice they were shaky and unsure and it has been a gradual confidence and skill building exercise to get them prepared for these high profile competitions. I hope this encourages other women to have a go at ice skating or any other sport that they perhaps feel too embarrassed or afraid to try.”

Michelle explains, ‘Social media played a huge part in Elaine and me getting back on the ice after such a long time. When we skated as youngsters there wasn’t such a thing as adult competitions so when I found out there was an opportunity for adults to compete in figure skating competitions all over the world I couldn’t wait to get back on the ice and give it a go.”

Elaine hopes that stories like this will encourage youngsters become more involved I sport, “The Monday Evening Ladies only session was a perfect introduction to being back on the ice after a 28 year gap. It’s very reasonably priced and there’s a nice relaxed atmosphere. It was perfect for those first weeks of getting back into skating (to see if it was something I was able to continue with). I hope that our success encourages females of all ages to consider taking up ice skating. Age has no boundaries”

These extraordinary achievements fall just a week before Women’s Sport Week 19th – 25th June.

For more information about ice skating and how to get involved visit www.forumicearena.co.uk

Watch Elaine and Michelle’s appearance on Made In Teesside here

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I've not been since I was a kid, couldn't believe the transformation. Will be back soon!

Steve - Darlington
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