Ice dance boost for Bradford teenager Jake Fearnley

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Now ice dancing pair Jake Fearnley and Eleanor Hirst want to improve their international rankings Now ice dancing pair Jake Fearnley and Eleanor Hirst want to improve their international rankings

Bradford ice skater Jake Fearnley, 17, has been promoted to the National Ice Skating Association’s (NISA) performance squad.

Along with partner Eleanor Hirst, 14, the junior ice dance couple will now be given the chance to represent Team GB at international competitions and at Junior Grand Prix level.

The couple are currently Britain’s No 2 in the junior ice dance national rankings and will join two-time British champions Olivia Smart and Joe Buckland in the NISA squad.

After beating their previous personal best score by more than 20 points and coming ninth at the NRW Dance Trophy in Dortmund, Germany, the couple achieved the target score required to make the squad.

Queensbury School pupil Jake said: “We’re really happy to be promoted. We’ve been skating together for two years now and we have been working hard to improve all the time.

"Our goal now is to do as well as we can in international competition and climb up the rankings.

“We’d like to thank our amazing coaching team of Nancy Amber, Viv Dean and Philip Askew. These guys have worked so hard with us over the last two years, and without them we wouldn’t be where we are today.

“We’d also like to say thank you to our parents as they are always there giving us the support we need, and also for getting us to early-morning practice, which means getting up at 4am. They give up a lot of their time to take us to the places we need to be.”

Hilary Selby, performance director at NISA, said: “Jake and Eleanor have been showing great progress lately and they deserve their places in the performance squad.

“They are a young duo with a lot of potential, and hopefully the promotion is just the start of a very successful ice skating career for them both.”

Both skaters started Skate UK lessons in 2008 and were crowned British novice dance champions in 2012.

Jake is also one of just 12 NISA figure skaters taking part in their Advanced Apprenticeship in Sporting Excellence (AASE) performance programme for talented athletes aged 16-19.

Past AASE athletes include double Olympic gold-medal winning swimmer Rebecca Adlington, Olympic bronze-medal diving star Tom Daley and Arsenal and England midfielder Jack Wilshere.

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