Isle of Wight ice skater Gemma Marsh followed her dreams of competing at the highest level in synchronized skating today by flying out to Gothenburg to join the world-renowned Team Surprise.
The 20-year-old fitness instructor from Freshwater has known since May that she had secured a place on Sweden’s top senior synchronized skating team after successfully completing a week’s trial.
Landvetter-based Team Surprise are legendary in synchronized skating. Founded in 1985, Surprise have won the senior world championships a number of times, including the first championships in Minneapolis in 2000 and most recently in Gothenburg in 2012. Many of their original moves, created by team coach Andrea Dohany, have evolved into many of today’s familiar elements in synchronized skating.
Gemma said: “Today I will be arriving in Gothenburg, the city that will be my home for the next three or so years! I will be living my dream skating with the amazing Team Surprise, a team I have idolized for many years now. It hasn’t quite sunk in yet!
“I want to thank everyone who has supported me through all my years of skating and especially in the run up and preparation for my new journey. I’m so excited to be starting my new journey.”
Ryde head coach Terri Smith said: “I wish Gemma all the best with her new adventure and congratulate her on following her dream and working hard to go and train with Team Surprise in Sweden.
“We will all miss her loads , but I can’t tell you how proud I am of her – an Island girl skating with one of the best synchro teams in the world.
I’m so lucky to have taught her for the past eight years or so – she’s a true role model and great person.”
Gemma first took to the ice at the age of four, taking group lessons at Streatham ice rink under the tutelage of none other than four-times World and European champion Diane Towler-Green. She moved to the Isle of Wight at the age of five and had a successful solo free skating career at Ryde under coach Anita Curtis. With the formation of the first Isle of Wight synchronized skating team, Wight Diamonds, in 2004 she discovered the discipline that was to capture her heart and lead to four British junior championships gold medals as a member and later co-captain of the Wight Jewels. Coached by Terri Smith, the Jewels went on to compete internationally and represent Great Britain at three junior world championships.
It is not the first time a British skater has skated for Sweden. Stephanie Humphreys of Basingstoke senior team Storm skated for Team Boomerang of Gothenburg a few years ago. Team Surprise also have skaters from Finland and Japan on their strength, and teams can field a proportion of non-nationals. But as far as iowskaters.com knows, Gemma is the first British skater to join Surprise.