IW senior team Wight Jewels say goodbye to another skater who has gone international as long-time member Beth Howarth leaves for Australia to join Team Nova. She talks to iowskaters about her move
If Santa Claus grants wishes, then Wight Jewel Beth Howarth can thank him for making possible the latest stage of her ice skating career. For Beth, who turned 21 just this week, is about to leave the Isle of Wight to join Australian senior synchronized skating team Nova, based in Brisbane, Queensland.
Beth started skating at the comparatively late age of 10 – and it was a Skate with Santa special at Ryde rink that sparked her passion.
“My dad first took me skating on Christmas Eve with Santa,” says Beth. “Then I begged my dad for lessons and finally when he let me have them I was so happy! I started skating because I loved watching the sport, I had tried lots of sports before but I never felt like I found the sport that I was good at.”
Beth took lessons with the head coach of Ryde ice rink, Terri Smith, who also coaches the synchronized skating teams. Perhaps inevitably, Beth switched to synchro at the age of 12.
“I always watched the teams skate down the rink on patch ice and I loved the idea of being a part of a team and going away together,” says Beth. “I was also coached by Terri Smith and she encouraged me to join the juvenile team.”
Like others for whom skating has become a passion, Beth has relied on her family and coach to support and encourage her.
“My parents and family have helped me so much with skating, driving me to the rink for 5:30am practices and encouraging me all the way through. They’ve also taken me to competitions and been my number one supporters. My coach Terri Smith has of course helped me loads with my skating and I am so happy I have had Terri as a coach throughout these years with her great understanding.”
When it comes to synchro, however, she says her biggest inspiration has been six-times world champions Team Surprise of Sweden.
“Team Surprise work so hard and for so many hours to perfect their programmes. I remember first going to a training camp in Sweden and seeing them skate and I was just amazed at how fast they were and how in time. From then on I have always wanted to perfect my skating and always be improving.”
Inspiration has also come from many other skaters and her team-mates on the Isle of Wight.
Beth explains: “One main person was Gemma Marsh. She was always down the rink working so hard and showing up to practice early. Now Gemma skates for Team Surprise and it always made me think if I wanted to do something like that then it was possible. Gemma has always worked so hard, and this summer has helped me at patch ice to improve my steps and skating skills ready for Nova. I had also always thought about maybe travelling and joining another team but had been nervous to do it, but now I am so excited.”
Skating with IW team Wight Jewels at junior and more recently senior level has also played its part.
“Skating with the Jewels has taught me team work but also how to trust each other, especially doing senior where you really need to trust each other because of lifts but also because of the speed that the team now has when skating. If you don’t trust the person next to you then it won’t work.”
Beth took a break from skating when she left the Island to study at Brunel University, but she quickly realized that she didn’t want to give up skating.
“On my second year I decided to go back,” she says, “and this was when the Jewels made the decision to be a senior team. It was hard to juggle both university and skating. I also did netball at uni which then made it even harder. I had to set myself a timetable for each day so I knew what I was doing at what time because I was so busy. I like to be organized and knew that I wouldn’t miss a session because of uni work.”
Her determination also came into play when ice skating suffered a major blow on the Island on the closure of its rink.
“When the rink shut down it also taught me that if you want something then don’t give up trying,” she says. “With it being so much harder to train without a home rink the team really had to pull together to put out a strong performance which we would be proud of.”
It’s no surprise, then, that with such a positive attitude that Beth would not be daunted at the prospect of going to Australia to continue skating. Her new team, Nova, has competed in the senior division since 2011. Since then they have been Australian champions and have represented Australia at the senior world championships in 2013, 2014 and 2016.
Her desire to go travelling after university led to the move.
“I have always wanted to go to Australia and skating is something which I love and didn’t want to leave,” says Beth. “I was planning on going to travelling at the end of the year, and my family suggested that maybe I do both. I saw Nova skate at the Trophy d’Ecosse in 2016 and I remember loving both their programmes and how they skated. I sent an email to their coach and now I am off on an amazing adventure and ready to work hard when I get there.
“Joining Nova will allow me to train more and improve my synchro. It will also allow me to travel, as the team is so far away I will be going to compete in some different competitions, such as in Sydney, which will be an amazing opportunity. I am so excited to do internationals with the team and get to training.”
In the past Nova has competed internationally in the French Cup at Rouen, the Spring Cup in Milan, and the Trophy d’Ecosse in Dumfries: Nova were bronze medallists at the Trophy d’Ecosse in 2016. With an international schedule ahead of her, Beth is almost certain to come across her old team-mates, including the Jewels and, of course, Gemma in Team Surprise. With Beth and Gemma having a shared friend in Solway Stars’ Molly Coxon, now skating for Nexxice juniors in Canada, British supporters at internationals may well be raising a baffling array of flags.
Fittingly, it is an international that provides one of Beth’s personal highlights.
“One of my most memorable moments,” she says, “would have to be competing at Junior Worlds with all my family watching. It was so lovely for them to come and see me skate at such a big competition.”
But she’ll also take with her the special moment provided this year at the British Synchronized Skating Championships as a member of Wight Jewels.
“The long programme was Lion King, which is one of my favourites,” she says. “After the short we knew we had nothing to lose, so we just went for it. We put all our effort into the routine and so much emotion that by the end we didn’t worry about the score as we knew we couldn’t have done anything more. When I looked around at the end most of the team was in tears and we were so happy that we had finally skated the long programme how we wanted.”
Beth leaves for Australia on 5 August. iowskaters wishes her well and looks forward to seeing her soon in competition on the international circuit
Team Nova: http://www.iceskatingbrisbane.com.au/