0484/Winter Olympics

Winter Olympic hopefuls borrow routine from one of British figure skating’s masters

Penny Coomes and Nick Buckland 

There is a lot to be said for learning at the feet of the master. But as if being coached by one of the country’s greatest Olympic figure skaters was not enough, Britain’s Winter Olympic hopefuls are now borrowing some of his routines. Christopher Dean, who famously won gold with Jayne Torvill at the 1984 Games in Sarajevo, has been working with Nick Buckland and Penny Coomes as they aim to improve on their tenth place finish four years ago. He has even let them use one of his and Torvill’s most famous routines at the games, now taking place in Pyeongchang. Buckland, 28, said: “We are recreating a routine that Torvill and Dean used when they won the bronze medal at the 1994 Winter Olympics [in Lillehammer, Norway] and that’s very special”. “It’s a really iconic routine in the skating world and we’ve modernised it and I’m so excited to perform it. It’s just a huge privilege to work with him, hours seem like minutes when we are working together, it’s so fun bouncing ideas off him.” Buckland, who is appearing at his third Games, added: “To work with him and for him to sanction us to skate a piece they’ve previously performed at the Olympics, I can’t think of a greater honour. We just feel a great responsibility to do it well.

Penny Coomes and Nick Buckland of train ahead of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at Gangneung Ice Arena

“We are huge Torvill and Dean fans and they’ve done so much for the sport, I’ve watched all their routines so many times online, I think we know them better than they do because we’ve seen them so many times.” Perhaps it’s modesty, but Buckland and Coomes are stopping short at recreating the famous Bolero routine which scored Torvill and Dean a string of perfect sixes at the 1984 Games, in front of a worldwide TV Some of the memorabilia for the 2018 Winter Olympics features British figure skating duo Penny Coomes and Nick Bucklandaudience of 24 million. “You don’t touch Bolero, it’s just too perfect, but this routine is probably their second most famous routine in the skating world, you couldn’t do it without his blessing and I know they’ll both be watching very closely,” he said. Buckland and Coomes claimed their first major medal at the European Championships four years ago, winning bronze. Since then Coomes has struggled with a knee injury that threatened her entire career. She shattered her kneecap in eight places and was forced to undergo two operations and months of rehabilitation, forcing Buckland to train on his own in America. At one point she was told she would never compete again, but is now ready to take part in her third Winter Olympics with Buckland. They were left disappointed by their seventh place at the recent European Championships, but have since made significant changes to their routine ahead of the Olympics. “We’ve made lots of changes and we’re really excited about it,” said Buckland. “There is new music, new choreography and I think it’s probably my favourite programme we’ve done and that makes us feel very confident.”

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