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Page last updated at 13:11 GMT, Wednesday, 19 March 2008

Can GB dance duo deliver?

John and Sinead Kerr
John and Sinead Kerr compete for Britain in the ice dance

The World Figure Skating Championships are under way in Gothenburg.

A record 203 competitors from 48 countries are competing at the event which runs until Sunday 23 March.

BBC Sport caught up with former Winter Olympic gold medallist Robin Cousins to get his take on the action from Sweden and on why British skaters are unlikely to be returning with any medals.

The Dancing on Ice judge will be commentating on the event for the BBC.

WHO WILL BE THE STARS OF THE EVENT?

"In the men's event, Japan's Daisuke Takahashi has had a great season but he will be up against the experience of the likes of Stephane Lambiel and Brian Joubert.

"They've all got the desire to win it, but it might not come down to how experienced everybody is or how prepared they are, it will be what they deliver on the day.

"The ladies is interesting because many of America's potential medal contenders are ineligible because of their age.

"They still fall into the juniors age bracket, so a lot of the best in the world are not actually competing.

"When you consider Kimmie Meissner, the 2006 world champion, is now only ranked number seven in the US it shows the strength of depth they have. That makes it a very open event so we could see a Japanese or at least Asian one, two, three."

HOW HEALTHY IS THE STATE OF WORLD SKATING?

"The new International Skating Union judging system replaced the old 6.0 point scoring system in 2004 and I think the transition to accepting it is complete.

WORLD FIGURE SKATING CHAMPIONSHIPS
BBC coverage
Wed 19 March - 1730-2120, BBCi/online
Thurs 20 Mar - 1400-1500, BBC TWO/online
1730-2130, BBCi/online
Fri 21 Mar - 1400-1500, BBC TWO/online
1730-2130, BBCi/online
Sat 22 Mar - 1200-1600, BBCi/online
1300-1400, BBC ONE/online
Sun 23 Mar - 1300-1430, BBC TWO/online
1430-1700, BBCi/online

"A lot of people who were competing a couple of years ago were having to change their style of performing to accommodate the new system.

"Now, we are getting the people who grew up in the system competing so they don't know any other way and that is benefiting the sport hugely. There are no 6.0s for the crowd to cheer along but people are figuring it out."

WHAT ONE EVENT WOULD YOU RECOMMEND WATCHING?

"From a British point of view we have to hope ice dancers John and Sinead Kerr finally deliver something.

"They have the chance, possibly not to podium, but to hit the top five or six in the world, which would give British skating a boost.

"They haven't had the best season but they are skating well and without the dominance of the Russians at the top, the rest of the field will feel they have a chance."

WILL THE KERRS GO ON TO MAKE A SIGNIFICANT BREAKTHROUGH ON THE WORLD STAGE?

"The Scottish siblings have potential and are under the tutelage of Russian coach and former Olympic champion Evgeny Platov, whose expertise you cannot fault.

"Now it's a question of whether John and Sinead plateau with Platov or use this season to maximum effect.

"I don't think they can afford to be chameleonic every year. At some point people have to be able to say, 'that's who they are, that's how they perform and that's what they are delivering'.

"I think this is the year to make it happen otherwise they will fade into the background. They need to send out a signal that they are not done yet."

HOW CAN BRITAIN PRODUCE MORE WORLD CLASS SKATERS?

"We are not tough enough with young skaters. We have a tendency to look at six-year-olds and go, 'isn't she sweet' rather than thinking she's got potential there, let's get her working on her double axle.

"I don't believe in pushing children, but there's something to be said for strong encouragement at an early age when you can make a mark on someone.

"Unfortunately in the skating world 12 is no longer a young age, at 12 you've got to be a junior and by 15 an international, it's just a simple fact of life.

"The rinks around the country are always busy and the 'learn to skate' classes are always full.

"What we need though is the facility to make advance classes available and the rinks attractive enough to make people want to go and leave their kids to play and skate.

"Some of the rinks are not particularly attractive, they are cold and damp and wet and a bit miserable.

"But it has to come from a desire to skate as well. You need to make yourself seen, if you are enjoying what you are doing you will be picked up by a coach."

WHAT IMPACT HAS 'DANCING ON ICE' HAD ON SKATING IN BRITAIN?

"It is encouraging hundreds and thousands of people across the country into the ice rinks. What we need to ensure is that the ice rinks can cope and make them come back again and again.

"But no matter what you do, you have to do some work to get some reward.

"At the end of the day if you live near an ice rink and the ice is frozen and you can get through that door, there is no reason why you can't be skating."

Robin Cousins was talking to Paul Birch



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see also
Best Worlds finish for Scots duo
30 Mar 06 |  Winter Sports
Skating: Figure skating (singles)
11 Nov 09 |  Winter Sports
Skating: Ice dancing
11 Nov 09 |  Winter Sports
Skating: Figure skating (pairs)
11 Nov 09 |  Sport Guides


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