Exclusive: Skating legends say opportunity knocks for youngsters using facilities.
Ice dancing legends Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean are planning to skate back to Sheffield – not to do the Bolero but to help sick, disabled and disadvantaged kids on to the ice.
And they have praised the city’s iceSheffield facilities so highly that they believe it could help produce the next Torvill and Dean.
The Olympic gold and four time world champions say a Variety lunch yesterday, celebrating their achievements and hosted by Eamonn Holmes at the Dorchester, raised vital funds for them to host ice dancing sessions for children around the UK.
The charity helps support sick, disabled and disadvantaged children.
They are still looking at where the sessions will be but say they plan to include Sheffield – a city close to their hearts, where they have entertained thousand of fans at the Arena. They also always skated on steel blades made in Sheffield.
Chris, now aged 57, said of the lunch and charity plans: “We’re very proud. Variety is a fantastic charity and to be associated with it is a real honour. To be ambassadors for the charity is a big deal for us. We want to help and support them in any way that we can.
“What we hope to do is to be involved and organise days at ice rinks. That’s something we feel we can do. Whether they are disabled, disadvantaged or sick children – we just want to give them a great day out.
“We did it not so long ago in Manchester. We want to get it off the ground through Variety around the country and into Sheffield as well.”
Chris added: “We’ve been skating on Sheffield steel blades all our lives and we used to start our tours at Sheffield Arena. We’ve been there many times.”
Jayne, 58, aded: “With Chris and me it would be possible. It’s not only something different for the children but also for the parents who come along too. They enjoyed watching their child doing something different.”
She added: “I know they have some excellent facilities at iceSheffield, so let’s hope children there can take advantage of it and utilise it. There’s every opportunity for them there and some good coaches, so let’s hope it can produce future champions.”
Chris believes it could help produce a future Torvill and Dean. He said: “I would like to think there will be. It’s all to do with funding. You look at the summer Olympics we did and the Government funded the sport. Look at how successful many of the events were. That’s what it comes down to. Getting young kids on the ladder, giving them the right coaching and supporting them through their career.”
It’s more than 30 years since the pair captivated the world and won gold with their ice dance routine set to Ravel’s Bolero at the Sarajevo Winter Olympics in 1984.
Chris revealed they can appreciate what they did perhaps more now looking back at old video footage than at the time – when they were in a ‘trance like state’.
He told us: “What tends to happen is your memory gets blurred but then you watch it again and it puts you right back there. But at the time we were so trained up and conditioned that we were almost in a trance like state while we were doing it.
“It’s only when you look back at it, through old footage and video, that you can remember it. We’ve done the Bolero many times. But that performance was 32 years ago.”
Millions of fans watched the duo host TV’s Dancing On Ice and they have warm memories of their live shows at the Arena in Sheffield. But will the TV show ever return?
Chris believes it could. He said: “Maybe they’ll want to bring Dancing On Ice back. TV is like that. Sometimes they will rest it then they say let’s do it again.”
Jayne added: “We’ve jut finished pantomime in Manchester.
“We might do that again. We also have another couple of projects .”
The ice favourites have no plans to hang up their skates while they can continue to perform and give value for money.
Chris added: “We stay healthy, look after ourselves and know what we’re capable of. So I think as long as we can still give a performance that’s worth a ticket price then we’ll keep performing.”