Wednesday, January 11, 2017 - 13:45

National skating champion Ben Penhaligon has returned to the Eden Project to do a special sequence on the rink where he first went on the ice. 


Ben, part of a sporting family from St Austell, Cornwall, was first taken to the Eden rink at the age of 11 by his grandfather Mike Penhaligon. 


He quickly proved to be a natural – and nine years on, the biggest achievement of his career so far was winning the recent UK Junior Pairs title with Canadian partner Gabrielle Leversque at the British Figure Skating Championships in Sheffield last month. 


Ben got his skates on before a public session at Eden to go through some of his best moves and record a film to mark the return to his local rink:


The 20-year-old said: “It has been great to come back to the ice rink at Eden as this is where I really got into skating and was given so much encouragement. My granddad used to take me to Eden when it opened for the winter season. I originally used hockey skates and eventually started using figure skates and practised whenever I could.”


Ben honed his skills at Plymouth Ice Rink, as well as at Eden, where in his early teens he teamed up with a group of other young skaters. 


He said: “I had made friends at the rink, all lovely people - we all just loved to ice skate. It was all very social. Once I had my figure skates on it started to become more like training for me, but ultimately we all went on a Friday and Saturday evening for fun. I look back to those years and it makes me very happy.”


Ben took lessons at Eden and Plymouth from his then-coach Steve Vincent and from his current coach, former British National Champion Clive Shorten.


At the age of 15, Ben went with Steve to train in Canada and this improved his skills greatly. He suffered a setback when he tore a knee cartilage and had to have an operation. He decided to quit but just over a year ago had a change of heart and got back on the ice with the help of coach Clive. Ben has since returned to live and train in Canada. 


There he teamed up with Gabrielle, who is from Bridgewater, Nova Scotia. They had training sessions at St. Margaret’s Bay Skating Club with pairs skating stars Kirsten Moore-Towers, an Olympic silver medallist, and Michel Marinaro. 


Ben said:  "I would like to thank my Canadian-based skating family including Charleen Cameron, John Mattatall, Lisa McMullin and Bradley Keeping-Myra for helping guide me and Gabrielle to our National title."


Over the New Year holidays Ben continued to sharpen his skills on the Eden rink and has loved seeing a host of familiar faces. He said: “It brings me joy to see the rink so busy and so many doing lessons. I feel compelled to help Cornwall go further in my sport, being the first skate to go to Nationals from this part of the world.”


Ben’s family is an established St Austell sporting dynasty. Granddad Mike played rugby for St Austell and dad, Garry, was a top goalkeeper, turning out for Plymouth Argyle and St Austell. 


Mike said: “Cornwall has produced a lot of rugby players and some good footballers but very few competitive skaters. It is great that Ben had a rink on his doorstep at Eden and now he has got so far as a national title. The whole family is very proud of him.”




January 11, 2017


Picture caption:

Ben Penhaligon at Eden’s ice rink


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