Saturday 18 November 2017

'I keep up with the best of them' - Ireland's oldest ice skater (78) still knows his stuff

Ron Warren being honoured by the Ice Skating Association of Ireland for his outstanding contributions to the sport of figure skating in Ireland.
Ron Warren being honoured by the Ice Skating Association of Ireland for his outstanding contributions to the sport of figure skating in Ireland.

David Kearns

At 78-years-old, Ron Warren still cuts a fine figure on the ice. Among Ireland’s oldest ice skaters, the veteran said that despite his age he still had the moves to dazzle.

“Backwards, forwards, and so forth – I keep up with the best of them when it comes to getting around on the ice,” he laughed.

“I have never come up against anyone my age, so I guess I’m probably the oldest one out there on the ice.”

Lacing up his boots for the first time in 1961, Ron has been a regular on the Irish figure skating scene since its earliest days.

“He’s a pillar in the skating community – everyone knows him and we all love him,” said a caller on RTE’s Liveline, where Ron was speaking out against the lack of an Irish ice rink.

“At the moment I get the train up to Belfast then a quick bus ride over to the nearest rink – in all, I probably spend around six hours traveling to just get some time on the ice,” he told listeners.

“I first put on my ice boots in 1961 while I was working in the UK. I was over there for six years working before I came back to Ireland.”

It would be another 14 years before Ron skated again though as he, like most Irish people at the time, did not have easy access to an ice rink.

It was not until Dolphin’s Barn opened in the 1980s that he got back on the ice.

“I started with the speed but when I came back I started doing the jumps with the trainers in Dolphin’s Barn.

“I then got into dancing on the ice once I started having trouble with the jumps. Still, even now, I can do a single extension no problem or a loop once I’ve built up the speed.”

Currently off the ice since November due to putting his shoulder out, Ron spoke about the price he has paid for a lifetime on skates.

“Skaters know how to fall without hurting themselves,” he said. “You get use to it and learn when you’re in a position that isn’t stable and you relax before you fall.”

“Still, accidents happen – my worst spill came when  I was skating as I normally do, counter clockwise, when a 15-stone gentleman cut across the ice and came right through my path.

“I grabbed him to protect us both but he pushed me right on to my back. I thought I’d broken every bone in my body when I landed but what I had done was severed some sinew to two muscles in my back.”

“Now I can’t lift my right arm up too high and while I still have full motion control, I can’t lift anything too heavy.”

Ron was on Liveline to highlight the issue facing Irish skaters when the country’s last rink closes next month.

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