My legs are already shaking as I step out on to the ice – which is not a great start.
“Just hang on to the side until you get used to it,” instructs professional skater Lukasz Rozycki.
Don’t need to tell me twice.
I’m hanging out at iceSheffield in Attercliffe with four professional skaters who share a combined 133 years’ experience on the ice. Sean Rice, Jodeyne Higgins, Alexandra Schauman and Lukasz Rozycki are in the city for the new Professionals On Ice tour – ‘Britain’s coolest new show’ – which runs at the venue until Sunday. All have numerous appearances on ITV’s Dancing On Ice under their belts, partnering celebs of all abilities, and now they’re excited to show the public what they’re really capable of.As I make my way around and around the rink, with all four close by, I have newfound sympathy for those celebs. I am so focused on keeping my balance, my knees bent, my toes up and my feet straight that I barely notice I’ve started to gather a bit of speed. Until Sean tells me so. And then I wobble. Eek!
I’m amazed by how tough it is; they make it look so easy on television. Well okay, not easy. But I always thought if Keith Chegwin could do it, surely I could have a good go.
I’m just starting to feel reasonably comfortable skating around the rink, and say so to Sean, who nods and then demonstrates my next move - a one-legged glide.
I laugh. Yes, I think he’s joking, until I see him look at me expectantly.
“Don’t worry, I’ll be right here,” he says, holding his hands out. His wife and professional partner Jodeyne gives me an encouraging smile and nod.
“Keep your head up,” Sean urges, but every few seconds I find my glance drops back to the single foot left on the ice, as if to reassure myself it’s still there.
“Have you heard the expression ‘follow your nose’?” Sean asks with a smile. “If you look down, that’s where you’ll go - eyes up.”
And if Sean Rice gives you skating advice - you take it. The 40-year-old Canadian began skating when he was just 17 months old. And the tips don’t end there. He shows me how to glide forward on both feet, then turn my head gently to my left, then to my right. I’m amazed to find my body follows and I begin to arc round in a semi circle - just as if that’s exactly what I’d intended. Eat your heart out Torvill and Dean!
As my half hour lesson comes to a close, I’m thrilled to have had the opportunity to spend a little time on the ice with these people. I’m utterly in awe of them; in awe of the way Alexandra can skate casually backwards chatting to me whilst gesticulating wildly with her arms. In awe of the way Sean spins and whips easily around the ice as I skate steadily alongside, wobbling at the mere sight of him. And especially of Lukasz, who picks me up for a... bird lift? Or is it a pigeon hold? All as if I weigh the same as a bag of sugar. Which I do not.
Later, back on solid ground, all four share their excitement for the new show, which ends its three-day run on Sunday.
“It’s exciting because the routines are all brand new,” said Jodeyne, 38, who began skating when she was two and hooked up with professional partner Sean when she was just 11. The pair have travelled the world together, skating in 46 different countries.
“This is the best job in the world, getting to travel and perform with our good friends who are all so talented and show the public what we professionals can really do.”
“We love being in Sheffield,” adds Sean. “My first blades came from Sheffield, they’re the best, and we’ve spent a great deal of time in the city on previous tours, so it’s lovely to be back.”
The show marks ten years of skating together for Alexandra and Lukasz.
“It definitely helps on the ice if you have a good connection with your partner off the ice,” confirms Finnish skater Alexandra, 32, as she smiles at her husband.
“We love having the opportunity to travel and have such wonderful experiences together - it’s a dream job.”
Polish skater Lukasz, 34, adds: “We got to Sheffield a little early so we got to have a couple of days off, enjoying the city and shopping at Meadowhall.
“After that, it was back to the ice, polishing up the routines ready to give the people of Sheffield a fantastic show this weekend.”
Visit www.theprofessionalsonice.co.uk for tickets to the event.