ICE SKATING: WHITBY'S teenage skating ace Beth-any Hitchmough is celebrating qualifying for the British Pairs Championship after just a few weeks of training with her new partner.
The 13-year-old, who represents the Queensferry-basedDeesideSkatingClub, will take to the ice in the country's top competition for her level in Nottingham tomorrow.
Joining her will be partner Alex Demetriou, 15, of Blackpool, and the appearance at the sport's showpiece event marks a remarkable debut season for the pair who have been working together only since the end of October.
Bethany's mum Sharon said: 'They've done really well to qualify and have been working really hard. Alex is based at Blackpool Ice Arena but it is too small to be used for competitive skating at this level. This is also a new venture for Bethany as before she had been doing free skating and it's obviously very different when you're on your own.
'In singles competition, Bethany won the Deeside and Sheffield Opens last year while she was also runner-up at Bradford. It is not ice dance like Torvill and Dean used to do. In pairs skating there are a lot more throws and the male tends to be considerably larger than his female partner because of this.'
Alex can only make the 160-mile round trip from his Lancashire home to Flint-shire once or twice a week but under the expert guidance of coaches Hayley Pardo and Angela Hilton, the pair have quickly developed a good understanding.
They qualified for the national finals by passing their Novice Pairs Skating Test in Coventry. They will perform in Nottingham to a piece by Bond, the popular girl quartet noted for their fusion of classical, roots and techno music.
Bethany is hoping to follow in the footsteps of elder sister Naomi who won the same competition with Owen Edwards in 2002. Naomi, now 18, is skating professionally on a touring European ice show,in Spain, after skating in Genoa and Turin over New Year.