It’s been a rapid rise to the highest level of Pairs skating for Luke Digby and Anastasia Vaipan-Law. Now based in Dundee the two skaters only came together in 2020, they made their European Championships debut in January this year and will skate in their first Senior Grand Prix next week.
For Luke, for that to be on the rink he started skating on is “an incredible opportunity”. The 21-year-old who grew up in Sheffield said: “It's one of those once in a career opportunities to have a Grand Prix in your home country.”
The Pairs Free Skate will open the MK John Wilson Trophy on Friday at 18:00 and for Anastasia excitement will play more of a role than nerves.
“We've got that confidence of basically being on home soil and hopefully we've got a big audience and backing from everyone in the country.
“It's just more a case of going out there and enjoying it rather than having any type of pressure of being away, in a way it's all going to be very calm, especially because we compete there so often. So it's going to feel quite feel quite comfortable, I think. It makes it more exciting than nerve racking.”
Luke agrees: “It’s going be a bit of a bit surreal at times, it's amazing to have such a major competition in the United Kingdom. It just brings a lot more excitement.
“It's obviously exciting to go away and discover new places, but it just makes it feel a little bit more special. Being at home it just has a little bit more of a special feeling. But I think at the same time, it will be a bit surreal.”
Both Luka and Anastasia had successful starts to their careers as singles skaters. Luke won the 2019 Junior category at the British Figure Skating Championships. He represented Team GB at the 2017 European Youth Olympic Winter Festival, finishing 8th. Anastasia was a three-time Junior silver medallist at the British Championships.
In 2012 Luke Digby watched his skating heroes at the European Figure Skating Championships that took place in Sheffield. He was a flower boy at the event dreaming of one day being in their skates. “I was looking at all these great skaters thinking, hoping and dreaming one day that it’ll be you. It's always special just looking back and seeing where I sort of started and where I am now.”
“Trying to think back to what I felt, I was just starstruck at times”
For the Pair this major milestone in their career will hopefully act as a springboard as Anastasia explains: “It'll just push us to want to do even more of that. I know it's probably half the experience, but when I was younger and went to Junior Grand Prix and I thought it was, next level, amazing. I wanted to do so many more, and it makes you want to do more. And this is even better and bigger. So I imagine it will spur us on to push to do as much as we can with it."
Ten years on from the time he spent dreaming of one day competing on the major stage Luke has a message to those who will be looking at him, just as he looked at his skating heroes. His words to a future Grand Prix skater: “Keep dreaming, you think it's not possible and you think it will never happen, but just keep following your dreams and keep working hard and eventually good things will happen.”