First UK Post-Pandemic Competition to be held at Historic Ice Rink in London


Skate London is to be held at Alexandra Palace this year and is organised by Lee Valley London Ice Skating Club. (Credits: Ru-Pho)

After 18 months of lockdowns, rink closures and massive disruption to training, Skate London will be the first synchro competition held in the UK since COVID began.

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It is due to be held on the 14th/15th November at Alexandra Palace in London.  The competition is often the first in the season, but this year, it takes on a special role to bring together the massive synchro community after 18 months of isolation.

The organisation has not been without setbacks and difficulties. The guidelines for events in the UK were not published by the government until mid July and authorisation before this was impossible.

The organising committee has had to contend with many emails and phone calls in order to push the competition through, working closely with British Ice Skating, the National Governing Body in the UK.

Skate London is to be held at Alexandra Palace this year and is organised by Lee Valley London Ice Skating Club.

Authorisation granted, the next challenge is to get officials for the competition. The UK has only two technical specialists and neither are able to officiate so the competition needs to have international officials. This brings another challenge. At the moment, if officials are fully vaccinated and COVID guidelines, such as plexiglass on the judges panel, are followed, this is allowed and hopefully the rules will not change.

The competition itself will have new rules and regulations with skaters needing to do lateral flow tests and temperature checks when they arrive. There will be one-way systems around the rink, masks in communal areas and sanitisation of areas that might be touched. The changing rooms will have a longer turnaround in order to facilitate deep cleaning, which may affect the running of the competition.

Team Aura from Lee Valley London Skating Club. This club have faced many challenges these past 18 months, including the closure of their home ice rink and relocation to Alexandra Palace.

The difficulties teams have faced the past 18 months also needs to be taken into account. Different parts of the UK have had different access to ice time, with rinks in Wales still closed and Scotland only just allowing teams to join in hold.

Over 18s have been hit with additional restrictions during this period so teams have not been able to skate together. Added to this, are the constant demands to quarantine with school and college students spending large amounts of time isolated at home. 

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Teams have been struggling with numbers. National tests have been cancelled and are backlogged so skaters do not have the required levels. Some categories have strict age rules and skaters have aged out without ever competing at those levels. 

A decision was made by the synchro committee within British Ice Skating to try to bring back some semblance of normality this season. They decided to make synchro as inclusive as possible by relaxing some of the rules. Then, clubs have a year to get levels and categories fixed and synchro can start again in the country.

Rio Sully, Assistant Coach to Lee Valley’s Senior B and Mixed Age teams, National Technical Specialist for Synchronised Skating and the organiser of Skate London Synchro Competition.

Rio Sully, the organiser of Skate London, has been talking about her thinking behind this event and why it’s so important for it to go ahead:

“It’s daunting being the first competition in the UK but this is an opportunity for people to come together and show what synchro is all about so I am going to make the best of what we have and try my absolute hardest to make a successful competition in whichever form it is going to be in. 

Our skaters need something to look forward to so that the whole time spent on Zoom doesn’t feel wasted. The British Championships are in January and there needs to be something before that. Teams have had nearly two years off so this is very important.

Last time we ran the competition, there was only one day and we didn’t anticipate a high number of entries. But when we made the announcement, the emails came in. I’m so pleased as I didn’t know what to expect. It’s now a two day competition and we’ve worked closely with David Carter, the rink manager at Alexandra Palace Ice Rink, to sort out all our requirements. He’s been helping with off-ice space and using the Great Hall and sorting out entrances, which is really going to help with the space. The rink has no involvement with synchro usually and they’ve been fantastic and really accommodating - anything we need, they’re on hand to help out, to get it settled.”

More about Skate London

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