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Introduction to ice skating

Ice Skating is an absorbing and exciting spectacle. Combining speed, powerful jumping, spins and graceful movement.

It is a sport that everyone can enjoy (male/female – young and old). Research indicates that 90% of the population have tried ice skating at one time.

Ice skating has a UK wide presence and has enormous grass roots participation in addition to athletes aspiring to the elitism and standards of an Olympic sport.

There are approximately 2.5 million visitors to ice rinks in the United Kingdom every year (11 million visits).

The National Ice Skating Association (NISA) has now developed a clear, integrated pathway from beginners (grass roots) through to elite at World and Olympic standards.

NISA has a large and vibrant recreational skating community comprising of individuals from 20-80 years old


The National Ice Skating Association was formed in 1879.

Great Britain is one of the founding members of the International Skating Union (ISU)

HM Queen Elizabeth II is the current patron. They have received Royal Patronage since 1881

Historically British Figure Skating has attained a total of 10 Olympic medals, 6 of which have been gold.

In the World Championships we have achieved a total of 81 medals:

28 Gold
29 Silver
24 Bronze

Speed skating is a later addition to our sport. Short Track Speed was recognised as an Olympic sport in 1994 and as an ISU sanctioned World Championships since 1976.

NISA is based within the prestigious National Ice Centre in Nottingham


There are five recognised Ice Skating disciplines at a competitive standard:

Singles skating – both ladies and men incorporating all the artistry of skating including showmanship and high levels of athleticism along with immaculate looks to ensure the sport is visually pleasing.

Pairs skating – requires incredible trust and confidence in the partnership. The breathtaking and dangerous lifts make this sport particularly popular.

Ice Dancing – an interpretation of dancing and theatre on ice. It is delightful to watch with all the excitement of a Broadway Show. In the UK it is the most popular of all the disciplines (over 23 million watched Torvill and Dean’s free programme at the 1994 Olympics.

Synchronized skating – Teams of skaters move in unison using intricate footwork, circles, lines, blocks intersection and wheels wearing sophisticated costumes to extremely entertaining routines. Caberet on ice.

Short Track Speed Skating – Racing at speeds in excess of 30mph around a 11metre oval with turns taken at extreme angles creating a highly charged atmosphere for both competitors and spectators. Speed skaters are some of the fittest athletes in any sport. Short track speed is in receipt of World Class Lottery funding enabling both our Development and Elite athletes to train on a full time basis.

Ice skating is an excellent product. A sport that is clean, healthy, drug and violence free that combines artistry, gymnastics, athletics, aerobics, ballet and ballroom dancing.


This is a grassroots skating programme to encourage young people to participate in the sport of ice-skating. There are ten skill levels taught by NISA qualified NCCP coaches. The programme emphasises fun and continuous movement and coached in a group format. The intention is to encourage and identify ‘Talented Skaters’ so that they are fast tracked through to the NISA system of training.


On a National basis, more women (21.9%) than men (6.4%) enjoy watching Ice Skating on TV.

NISA has over 4,000 members in the UK

There are currently 61 ice arenas in the UK that attract an average 11m visit per year (approximately 2.5 million visitors)

Currently approximately 45,000 Learn to Skate programmes are delivered per year. The majority of whom are below the age of 12. Of this figure 30,000 are NISA Skate UK courses giving access to an additional 60,000 consumers.

NISA has two National Ice Centres:

Nottingham – opened 2001 at a cost of approximately £40 million with £23 million Lottery funds
Sheffield – opened May 2003 at a cost of approximately £20 million with £13 million lottery funds

NISA has access to over 400 qualified coaches and 280 ISU recognised judges/referees.


Further information can be obtained by contacting British Ice Skating:


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