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Wednesday, 30 July 2014

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Winter Olympics stars check out new Carlisle skating rink

Olympic figure skater David King and partner Stacey Kemp joined pupils from Trinity School to celebrate the launch of Carlisle’s new skating rink at Bitts Park.

Carlisle skating rink photo
Amy Thompson takes a ‘selfie’ with Olympic ice dancers Stacey Kemp and David King and her friend Chloe Watson

The 29-year-old, from Curthwaite, near Wigton, who recently returned from Winter Olympics in Russia, believes it will be a really positive addition to the city.

Ahead of it opening to the public on Friday, school pupils were given a chance to try out the synthetic ice surface – and gave it the thumbs up.

David hopes it will encourage more young people to get involved in skating.

“It will be really good to see what kind of response it gets in a city that hasn’t got its own skating rink. I started out at Dumfries at a friend’s birthday party. It was difficult though. I had to do a two-hour round trip to training – before school that was a 4.30am wake-up call.”

Although he said he couldn’t train professionally on a synthetic surface, he hopes that the Carlisle facility will spark enough interest to eventually justify a real ice rink.

Already hooked are Amy Thompson, 13, and Chloe Watson, 14, from Carlisle.

They were among the Trinity pupils testing out the rink yesterday, and said they will definitely be going back.

“I’ve been ice skating before but it’s so far away. Now we have got somewhere to skate here. It’s great,” said Amy.

The skating rink is a joint venture between Carlisle City Council and Carlisle Leisure Limited (CLL).

Watching the children take to the rink yesterday, deputy leader Elsie Martlew said: “I’m so excited. You can really feel the buzz here.

“People in Carlisle have wanted a skating rink for generations.”

The council has been criticised for closing children’s play areas across the city to save money, but she stressed that the new skating rink is a very separate matter.

“Money hasn’t gone from that to this,” she said. “This is extra, and will pay for itself.”

The rink can be moved into the city centre at Christmas.

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