A NINE-YEAR-OLD Saltcoats figure skater has beaten the lockdown blues by swapping her usual footwear with special off-ice skates.

Nicole Brennan, who is on the Team GB British Development Squad, hasn’t let the coronavirus shutdown of all ice rinks stop her from getting her skates on.

The level four figure skater, who is a member of the Kyle Figure Skating Club in Ayr, has been gliding around the Ardrossan and Saltcoats shore front to keep up training regimen.

Mum Siobhan told the Herald: “She works very hard. With skating, like other things, you have to have some kind of natural talent, but Nicole just works and works.

“She is very determined.”

Nicole has been making use of any smooth surface she can find to replace the ice beneath her skates, including the Glebe tennis courts.

The Glencairn Primary pupil was also selected for the British Development Young Stars last year, which offers talented young hopefuls the opportunity to hone their skills on the ice.

And as part of the British Development Squad, Nicole takes part in a number of training camps in Sheffield alongside other GB figure skaters.

This meant that she qualified to compete overseas, and the nine-year-old was hoping to skate in a few competitions - but COVID-19 meant this couldn’t happen this year.

Nicole said she is missing school, her friends and, of course, the ice rink.

She said: “Being able to glide across the ice makes me happy.

“I miss being able to spin, you can’t really spin with the off-ice skates.”

The special off-ice skates, which are similar to in-line skates, allow Nicole to practice a lot of the essential figure skating skills, including her favourite move, the double jump, in which she rotates twice in the air and lands on a running edge.

Despite being unable to get on the ice, her coaches Gillian and Suzanne Otterson have been keeping her skills sharp with virtual training over Zoom, making sure she maintains her strength and flexibility.

Nicole has been working on her jumps down at the shore front car park and the Glebe tennis courts, but said that falling on concrete hurts more than on the slippery ice.

Siobhan said: “Hopefully the ice rinks will open sooner rather than later.

“With figure skating it is very easy to continue and observe social distancing because of the jumps and things, you have to stay apart from each other.”