Wolsey Hall student Phebe Bekker and her ice dancing partner, James Hernandez are coached by three time Olympians Nick Buckland and Penny Coombes. Nick and his wife Penny Coombes have won numerous medals as an ice dance pair and represented Great Britain at the Winter Olympics in 2010, 2014 and 2018. Phebe recently sat down with Nick to discuss how he got involved in figure skating and ice dance, his greatest achievements, how he managed school and competing as an elite athlete and what it’s like to coach herself and James.
Why did you start ice skating?
I first got involved in ice-skating because my grandparents ice-skated. My grandma did ice shows and my grandad was a speed skater. They met at the ice-rink, they brought my mum and then it was just a family thing – we’d go every weekend.
When did you get involved in ice dance?
I did single skating till I was 15 but fell out of love with it. I was never the best single skater but I skated really nicely and a lot of people told me I would make good ice dancer. I did both for a while and then I decided I really liked ice dancing, it was much more fun for me, and it went from there.
How did you balance school and competing as an elite athlete?
You learn the coping strategies to schedule your day. You know when your skating is and you figure out a way of fitting everything in around your skating. One thing ice skating teaches you is time management.
What has been the highlight of your career to date?
I think the highlight of my career was going to the Olympics. Our 2013/2014 season was really the highlight of our career. We medaled at Europeans, went to the Olympics and got our best result of the Olympics – it all came together really well.