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Illness hits Buckland brothers at European Figure Skating Championships

Great Britain’s top two ice dance couples have had to withdraw from the ISU European Figure Skating Championships in Stockholm, Sweden due to illness.

Current British Champions, Olivia Smart and Joe Buckland were the first to withdraw from the competition yesterday (Wednesday 28th January) after Joe was hit with a sickness bug.

Today, Penny Coomes and Joe’s brother, Nick Buckland, have also had to withdraw after Nick contracted a similar illness.  Coomes and Buckland finished in 10th place in the Short Skate Programme yesterday and were due to compete in the Free Dance Finals this evening (Thursday 29th January).

High Performance Manager for the National Ice Skating Association (NISA) Robin Cousins, commented: “It’s obviously a great disappointment that our two ice dance couples have had to withdraw from the European Championships due to illness, particularly considering that they’ve worked so hard for this. There is no way either of them could have performed at any level today.  As siblings who train together every day, it’s really hit them hard, particularly as this was Olivia and Joe’s first time competing at the Europeans.

“Both couples were on fire in advance of the event and everyone was geared up for some strong performances.  They demonstrated what they’re capable of in rehearsals here and hopefully they’ll get the opportunity to show the world at the ISU Shanghai World Championships in March”.

There has been some good news for Team GB at the European Championships though.  Current British Champion, Philip Harris, had a successful day yesterday, putting in a strong performance in the men’s event to finish 12th in the Short Skate Programme.

The top 24 finish means that Harris - who lives and trains in Coventry - has qualified for the Free Skate finals, which take place tomorrow (Friday 30th January).

Robin added: “Philip had a great skate yesterday.  He’s had a day off from competing today, which has given him some time to practice and to watch another event, which is always beneficial.  He seems in good form at the moment; he now needs to focus on being consistent and putting out a good programme tomorrow”.

Karly Robertson finished 26th in the Ladies Short Programme today, narrowly missing out on a place in the Ladies Free Skating Finals this Saturday.

In addition to Philip Harris competing in the Free Skate finals, tomorrow (Friday) will see Amani Fancy & Christopher Boyadji and Caitlin Yankowskas & Hamish Gaman skate in the Pairs Short Programme.

Visit here for a full list of results.