Ice dancing: UK Sport funding cut not a concern for new British champions

FLINTSHIRE British ice dance champions Louise Walden and Owen Edwards believe they can hit the heights without grant support from UK Sport.

A row erupted last week as UK Sport announced it would increase funding for winter sports in which Britain performed well at the Winter Olympics in Vancouver, like bobsleigh and skeleton bob, but would axe money provided to skiing, ice dancing and others.

But while accepting that any extra money would be welcome, Edwards denied that the cut would adversely affect the progress up the ice dance rankings of the Deeside Ice Rink duo.

“We received no money from UK Sport and are totally self-funded,” said Edwards. “We only receive money form the Talented Athletes Scholarship Scheme (Tass) and the Welsh Sports Council.

“I am not sure there was UK Sport money earmarked for us before this decision after we won the British Championships but we have lost something we didn’t have and we have to get on with it.

“We source our own funding, pay our travel and competition fees. If we had more money we would be able to pay for more time with a choreographer and with acting and dance professionals and we are always grateful to receive financial support, but if it is not there, there’s no point worrying about it.”

Walden and Edwards’ year has exceeded their expectations. They wanted to establish themselves in the European rankings and possibly grab a few top-five finishes with the odd top three. Indeed, when they travelled to Graz in Austria to compete in the Ice Challenge it was a top five place that was their aim.

But they delivered a supreme performance that handed them an unexpected victory and set them on an incredible run via the International Trophy of Lyon culminated with them winning the British title in Sheffield.

“Our routines felt good but we always felt we could do better,” said Edwards. “But there were always people we hadn’t competed against before, the wildcards, so we took nothing for granted.”

Now the duo, who split their training between Deeside Ice Rink and Lyon in France, have been selected as reserves for the British team in the European Championships in January and will get their opportunity if seven-time British champions John and Sinead Kerr of Scotland need to pull out through injury.

“If we do get a chance I would be really excited,” said Edwards. “I don’t wish any ill for John and Sinead but it would be a great chance for us to continue on our roll.”