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What is it really like being the parents of a figure skater? Life as parents takes practice itself. You will experience those early mornings, constant travel itineraries, and potential rivalry between parents. For the skater too, there is the strict routine of practice after practice + external training such as the gym or ballet. The competitiveness, yet friendship of your peers, matched by the determination of your goals, develop inner confidence and belief to go on. However, what about the supporting team around you – mum and dad – and how do they cope?
We had the pleasure of interviewing Ceri, mum of Romy Davies-Jeans, otherwise known as ‘Romy Skates‘ from Instagram, a gorgeous young figure skater dreaming of being Great Britain’s next gold medallist. She is one of a few amazingly talented girls hoping to take Britain back to the Olympic podium since 1952.
Jeannette Eleanor Altwegg was our last Ladies Single Champion back then and also our European Champion in ’51 & 52, followed by Valda Rosemary Osborn in 1953. Since 2014 these Championships have been dominated by the Russians – Yulia, Elizaveta, Evgenia, Alina, Sofia, and Alena in that order. Whereas the Olympics have been ruled by the United States, Japan, South Korea, and Russia.
Romy has been skating since 2015 is out to change all that. She is currently at Level 1 for Free Skating, Level 2 Ice Dance, and level 3 Field Moves. She is a member of the British Ice Skating Young Stars development squad and the Ice Dance British squad. She competes in many national and international competitions. Hi-lights of last year were winning Gold at the beginner category at Skate Southern International Free Skating competition and also competing at the British Ice Dance Solo Championships in July 2019.
Romy lives with mum & dad and has 3 older sisters. The older 2 have left home, whilst Hallie remains and still skates and competes, “quite a family initiative” says mum Ceri. You can imagine ice skating taking over the family and sometimes mum has to ban skating talk at mealtimes so they can talk about other things. “Unfortunately, there isn’t much else to talk about except for skating”
Did Romy discover Ice Skating due to her parents being an influence as ex-figure skaters?
“Romy started skating to be like her older sister Hallie, who has podiumed at 3 international & UK competitions. Romy first stepped foot on the ice at just 2 years old. She began a toddler class aged 3. The head coach at the rink, Tracey Keeble, spotted her aged 4 and has been her private coach ever since.“
What do coaches look for in your view before they decide to focus on talent?
“I think Tracey recognised her confident personality at first, she was a little pocket rocket on the ice with no fear. It didn’t take much convincing we knew what a fantastic coach Tracey was and we were very honoured and excited that she wanted to coach her.“
How does ice skating make Romy feel in her own words?
“Happy & Exciting. When I am at competitions I feel really good, and if I could never skate again I would be really sad and never come outside my room. I love ice skating.“
Romy’s aim in the short term is to get back on the ice, like many of you out there. Once back in action she wants to keep winning lots of competitions and land her axel – ice skating’s oldest and most difficult jump. Long term, Romy’s dream is to become an ice-skating champion. She has been very inspired by Maddison Bullock from ‘Ice the Movie’ and would like to be in an ice-skating film one day. She would also like to own an ice skating mansion. This is a mansion with an ice rink for floors so she can skate all day every day!
How did Romy amass such a great following on Instagram?
“We have helped Romy with her Instagram page by taking good quality content, regular posting, and engaging with other skaters. She was fortunate to appear on ITV news that helped boost her following and engagement. Her videos she has shot with the Ice Capture has also generated a large amount of interest in her account.“
As parent’s of a figure skater, how do you monitor and maintain social media? Is she aware of the level of follows and how do you keep her head on the ground?
“Romy is very laid back and takes everything in her stride, her feet are well and truly grounded. We ensure we regularly monitor her account and who is following her, and interact with the followers.“
How many hours of training on the ice does Romy have to complete per week?
Romy trains for around 13-16 hours on the ice and 3 hours off ice. She attends a weekly gym session with a Personal Trainer and a weekly yoga session, both are designed to help with her flexibility & strength on the ice. This is the dedication we hear from all aspiring figure skaters in the UK and International.
“Romy also has a lesson on the ice with a harness, this is helping her land her axel at the moment, she can land it on the harness without any support and just needs to get that little confidence when the coach takes the harness off.“
“Some lessons are dedicated to ice dance and then other will focus on free, so there is a structure to the training programme.“
Romy’s gym sessions, like any figure skater, are to improve strength and core. Her gym also has an off ice harness to help improve with jumps and spins. Being the parent of a figure skater means less time for yourself, and Mum, Ceri, finds it hard to find the time to exercise herself. Maybe as Romy gets older and more independent that will change. Right now Mum drives her to training before school and after, plus weekends. With her full-time job in-between, by the time she gets home, it’s TV and sofa time, with a glass of wine for a bit of downtime. What a supermum!
Have there been any ice skating injuries or worries so far?
“With Romy starting so young she has no fear of falling, she just bounces back up. No major injuries just the usual bruises and scrapes, but Romy is a tough little cookie and just gets on with it .“
At what point did you realise ‘wow Romy is a serious figure skater, now our lives are changed’?
“It was definitely a gradual process, and still is. She is still very young and there is a lot of tough competition out there. We will continue to support her and see where this journey takes her.“
Did your Husband happily get onboard or was it a shock to how much dedication was to be involved?
“It took him a while to get into it at first but now he is fully on board and supportive which is great as I know a lot of other skaters dads aren’t so supportive, we are lucky. He comes to competitions and takes his fair share in rink runs.“ He gets a Superdad vote from Skateperfect too!
What are other parents of figure skaters like? Is there a sense of rivalry or is this a good network/ community of support?
“As with all children’s support there are jealous parents, but we have ensured Romy has not been aware of any such behaviour. Although I suspect as she gets older this may not be so easy to keep from her. Her skating friends are all really supportive of her, not just at our rink but through Instagram.
Many skaters from around the UK who she competes against show lots of love and support on her photos and videos. Romy has connected over social media with many and formed lovely friendships.
She has recently been chosen as a brand ambassador for Frozen couture, an Australian skatewear company, along with 12 other skaters from all around the world. This group of ambassadors has formed a great bond and exciting times lie ahead.“
Has life changed being parents of a figure skater ?
“Yes at times it feels like we have no life as we are often awake at 5am ready to take the girls skating and then have to cram in work as well as down the rink in the evening and usually most of the weekend. Also, it takes a significant financial investment as you will see next.“
Financial costs of figure skating for mum and dad
We have touched on Romy’s intense schedules of training but what are the costs associated to be aware of?
We hear there are costs to costumes, choreography, competition entry and extra external training costs such as gym and yoga. Here are some of Romy’s.
Rink use per month = £100
Lessons = £20 for half hour private lesson
Competition entry = £55 for free, £120 for Ice dance
Travel, hotel & coaches fee for comps = £220 per comp
Gym session = £40 a month
Yoga session = £28 a month
Dresses = £ 300 per dress
You can see once you multiply the gym sessions, private lessons, competition cost, and outfit, parents could be looking at a minimum of approx £760 in any given month.
What is Romy’s favourite Ice Skate brand?
“Romy loves Jacksons, she is currently in Mirage Jackson Elle. Her last pair cost £300 and they need sharpening around every 6 weeks. Skates should be replaced between 12-18 months, she is due a new pair very soon.“
Anyone novice skaters out there can find a close match to Romy’s skates here on Amazon if you wish to click this link.
Do figure skaters have several pairs of boots for training & competitions?
“You can have ice dance or free skates but at her level she can wear the one pair for now, but that will change as she gets better. She only has the one pair for training and comps, it would not be a good idea to have different ones for competitions as they would feel different for the skater.“
Has the loss of your spare time impacted the broader family?
“We are a close family and even though it is a huge commitment all this goes out of the window when you see Romy and her sister skating enjoying themselves and even more at competitions, even though they are so stressful!!“
Skaters will save time by reviewing their competition checklist (things to bring) several days before. Check out our pro skater vetted list for you to copy and paste the list within, see Skaters Competition Checklist.
How does Romy fit in a schedule to complete school work?
“The school is fully onboard and supports us with Romy’s ice skating and they often share her videos in assembly of her recent competitions. We ensure she does all her homework and she often draws, creates, and reads whilst off the ice. We have found a good balance which is important for Romy. The normal school day can be affected, with competitions nearly always on weekdays. Therefore she usually misses two days due to travelling for comps. If she has extra training sometimes this will affect her school time but we do try to avoid that if we can.“
Anything else on how the family has had to adjust?
“We have not had a holiday for several years due to the commitment of ice skating as most of our holidays from work are used up on competitions throughout the year. Also the financial commitment we have had to reduce several previous luxuries (except wine!)”
Any advice for parents of a figure skater starting out?
“Don’t do it…no just joking if you are just setting out be prepared for extreme tiredness, changes financially and dinner table conversations dominated by Ice skating. But on the flip side you will get to see your child participate in an Olympic recognised sport that is one of the most difficult on the planet but one of the most amazing at the same time.“
Skateperfect thanks mum, Ceri & Romy Davies, for their time to help write this article. Both Romy’s Mum and Dad are loving parents and are supporting Romy with her ultimate aim. We wish Romy the best of luck in her development and you can follow her progress here on the Instagram account RomySkates. She is definitely one to watch for the future.
We always love to feature real people on skateperfect.com, if you are interested just drop me a line, Michelle.