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Behind the scenes with CBBC Ice Stars’ Ellie O’Connell

Two weeks ago we caught up with Joshua Tarry, one half of the Ice Dance couple ‘Jellie’. Following episode three of CBBC Ice Stars we spoke to 13-year-old Ellie O’Connell to find out more about her ice skating journey and what it was like to be involved in the TV series.

Who/what inspired you to step on the ice? My Grandma and Grandad used to take my Mum, aunts and uncles to the local ice rink when they were younger, so they offered to take me. I used to watch Dancing on Ice and of course loved all the pretty dresses, as any little girl would, and set my heart on becoming the next Jayne Torvill.

Did you complete the Skate UK programme, and how did you find it? I completed Skate UK very quickly at my closest Ice Rink in Sutton-In-Ashfield and really did enjoy myself. My coach at the time was Gemma Kerry and she encouraged me to take my skating further and advised visiting the National Ice Centre and I have never looked back!

What is your favourite subject at school and why? I really enjoy expressive arts, especially dance. I started ballet, tap and modern dance when I was four and loved it! I decided to stop attending dance classes about 18 months ago because I wanted to focus more on my ice skating. I love being able to use dance to express myself and obviously this can be transferred to ice dance.

What is your favourite thing to do when off the ice? In my spare time I enjoy doing regular teenage things like going to the cinema and hanging out with friends from school and friends from skating too. I also enjoy going out with my family as I don’t get to see them very often due to their work schedules and my busy skating schedule.

What was it like having cameras follow you around? It was a bit weird at first and I felt a bit conscious but the camera crew were really nice and we got to know them really well and we had a lot of fun with them.

What was your favourite part of CBBC Ice Stars? I really enjoyed the crew coming to the first competition at Bracknell as we have moved up a level to Advanced Novice and this was a try out against people who have already been skating at this level for a while.  We won the competition even though we had a fall but it was good fun having the crew with us.

Sophie Yates has been Ellie and Josh’s ice dance coach for five years from beginner level and spends nine hours a week with the pair on the ice at the National Ice Centre. Following a successful week at IJS Sheffield, we caught up with Sophie who said:

“Jellie have a very close partnership as they started skating in the ice dance academy at the same time and were friends before they started skating together. Jellie have just competed at IJS Sheffield and competed at advanced novice level and won, achieving a PB in their free dance and the test score for the British Championships.

“For anyone inspired to step on the ice, my advice to them would be that it is never too late to start ice skating! Children and adults can enrol on the Skate UK Learn to Skate programmes which take place at ice rinks across the country. With all the different disciplines (figure, hockey and speed) there is something for everyone.”

Get to know Ellie with the CBBC video: bbc.co.uk/cbbc/watch/get-to-know-ellie

1st September 2015