British Championships 2004


Text and photos © Melanie Eley


This little report doesn't list the elements skated, as I didn't want to miss anything by having to look down at pen & paper all the time. It's more like a little story of my observations, my memories and opinions.
I attended the competition with a group of skaters and friends from our local rink, Murrayfield Ice Rink, Edinburgh, where Sinead & John do the bulk of their training, alone.

This year's British Championship competition was held in the Nottingham National Ice Centre, a spectacular twin-padded, Olympic-sized arena. I’d been there once before to see the Queen’s Ice Gala which was held in 2002.

The seating is comfortable and plentiful. The arena is huge. Part of the seating was curtained off, as the amount of seats far out-numbered the audience. However, the audience was large and supportive, creating loads of noise, hooting, horn blowing and applause for all the skaters taking part.
It also has to be the warmest rink in the UK!

The organisation was second to none, complete with webcam and updated website, television screens scattered throughout the complex showing results, photographic feedback and fans’ messages. There were stalls selling all kinds of skating attire and paraphenalia from music to blades to blade soakers and jewellery.

I attended last year's competition in Sheffield, which was great, but I have to say this one was overall a better experience perhaps because the complex is so warm and the event was so very well organised.

In the announcer’s/compere’s box was Chris Howarth who commentates on behalf of British Eurosport for our skating events at European and World Championships. He used to be a singles skater some years ago. He is a polished commentator with a good sense of humour!

The most exciting event for me was Senior Dance - of course.
I was very nervous for Sinead & John Kerr, hoping they could retain their title as 2004 British Ice Dance Champions. Thankfully they skated as well as they could, and were justly rewarded, and remain British Champions for the second year running. They have greatly improved their compulsories, in my opinion.

After the Original Dance the placements were:

Sinead KERR / John KERR -1st
Pamela O'CONNOR / Jonathon O'DOUGHERTY -2nd
Phillipa TOWLER-GREEN / Philip POOLE -3rd
Marika HUMPHREYS / Vitaliy BARANOV -4th
Kira GEIL / Andrew SMYKOWSKI -6th
Nicola TRIPPICK / Damon LATIMER -7th

Sinead & John’s costumes are fantastic and their free dance is fast and exciting, as always.

Sinead warming up.

I admit to liking Justin Timberlake’s creations, so the music was not an issue for me, but I can understand that one can't please all of the people all of the time, where music is concerned.

I have to say that the Kerrs are not afraid to try something original and sometimes they will be criticised for daring to be different.
This free dance was quite different from the Matrix and hard to compare, although to me it seems faster and more difficult, jam-packed with elements. I have seen it in competition, and on TV and in practise several times, and I still see things, be it facial expressions or changes of hold, or footwork that I have missed before. I must say it is far better seeing it live than on TV or computer screen.
They have tried to manipulate the requirements of Code of Points to their advantage for international events.
- NB This event was judged using the "old" 6.0 scoring system.

Sinead & John did say it was sometimes quite difficult to choreograph their programs the way they would like them to be, in terms of fitting the moves/elements into the music when elements, such as lifts, have to be held a certain length of time.
However they did a great job and I'm sure they'll do well at Europeans and Worlds next year.
Congratulations to them on their well deserved win.

Their marks in the Free dance:
Sinead Kerr and John Kerr:
Technical Merit: 5.1 - 5.3
Presentation: 5.6 - 5.7

I enjoyed Phillipa (Pippa) Towler-Green and Phillip Poole's free dance to a Grease medley. Pippa is another very friendly and lovely girl off the ice.
Their marks:
Technical Merit: 4.4 - 5.0
Presentation: 4.9 - 5.3

Disappointingly, Marika Humphreys and Vitaliy Baranov withdrew - I'm not sure if it was because of his knee (he'd previously had surgery this disrupted their training schedule) or if it was because they were placed 4th after the OD. Afterwards, I saw Vitaliy spectating, but didn't see Marika around the arena again.

The Kerrs' biggest rivals Pamela O'Connor and Jonathan O'Dougherty's marks for Free Dance:

Technical Merit: 5.0 - 5.5
Presentation: 5.2 - 5.6
It appears as though Pamela O'Connor and Jonathan O'Dougherty will be the second couple to go to Europeans in 2005, as expected (since the Kerrs earned Great Britain a second couple place for finishing top 10 in their debut European championships earlier this year).

At the end of the Free Dance, the audience was allowed to text vote for their favourite free dance, for which a trophy is awarded to the winners.
Pippa & Phillip won that. Last year Sinead & John won it.

The results of the Ice Dance:

1st Sinead Kerr / John Kerr
2nd Pamela O'Connor / Jonathan O'Docherty
3rd Phillipa Towler-Green / Phillip Poole
5th Kira GEIL / Andrew SMYKOWSKI
6th Nicola TRIPPICK / Damon LATIMER
7th Marika HUMPHREYS / Vitaliy BARANOV WD

Jayne Torvill was there to present the medals.

The Men's competition is also exciting. I like it best, after the dance.

My favourite skater is Tristan Cousins who came fourth.
After his free skate last year I had high hopes that he would be on the podium or even take the title this year. I fear that nerves got the better of him though.
I like the way he flows and holds himself on the ice. He does a lovely change of edge spiral sequence - the best in the whole competition I might add! Unfortunately the jumps didn't all come together but his programs are usually exciting and well choreographed. Off-ice he is friendly and has time for anybody which is nice to see. I gave him a mug with the logo of Absolute Skating on it on one side and his name and a photo of him on the other.

Tristan Cousins during warm up.

David Hartley also skated very well in the Free. [For those who know Coronation Street (UK TV) he does an excellent impression of Ashley.]
I think he surprised many that hadn't seen him skate since last year.

James Black looked awesome at practise but when the time came to put it to the test, he couldn't quite hold on - again the jumps let him down a little.

Nick Rigby - the showman of all the men - is a real character and was very disappointed with his skate (the jumps) but the program looked awesome and he is so entertaining, both on and off the ice.

John Hamer won the competition, deservedly so, on the night. Everything just came together for him - I hope the skating federation sends him to Europeans and Worlds.

Men Overall Result
John HAMER -1st
James BLACK -2nd
David HARTLEY -3rd
Tristan COUSINS -4th
Alex WILDE -5th
Simon SURRIDGE -6th
Christopher TEES -7th
Nick RIGBY -8th
Robert MURRAY -9th

In the Ladies there were 3 competitors. Kathryn Hedley, Sarah Daniel and Jenna McCorkell. Having watched Jenna mature at each Nationals for the last four years, I am still an ardent fan. Her short programme was beautiful although she skated her free program much better technically, landing 5 triples - she fell on a 3 salchow. Her hair is now black rather than blonde.

Ladies Overall Result

Sarah DANIEL 2nd
Kathryn HEDLEY 3rd


We have no senior pairs unfortunately and only one couple in Juniors, Stacey Kemp & Dave King, but they look promising for the future if they can keep their partnership and hard work going.

Until they close it, the website showing more photos can be seen here:

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