He’s a former British Junior Champion ice skater who’s taught all the celebs on ITV's Dancing on Ice alongside Torvill and Dean, and now he’s here to teach you. If you want to do a triple axel or just let go of the penguin stabiliser, Robert can help.
Londoners love to skate in the open air, and you can skate from morning till night at Broadgate’s magical ice rink this winter. The rink is open from 10am-10pm till 26 February 2015.
We met with Robert Burgerman, our new Broadgate Ice Rink skate coach, who can’t wait to help you cut a stylish dash on the ice.
When did you first start to skate?
I started when I was six years old. I fancied a girl at school who was already skating and our parents took us to an ice show together. So I asked my mum if I could learn. I began lessons at Lea Valley Ice Centre when I was six or seven years old. The girl gave up skating though, and nothing came of it!
What do you love about the sport?
When I was a kid, I loved the freedom to go fast around the ice and express myself. As I grew up, I loved the competitive side of it, always trying to hone my skills and get better. For me, being on the ice is a place where I’m comfortable. It’s my arena and my stage.
What have been your biggest achievements as a skater?
When I was 11, I became part of the British International Squad and was included in the Future British Olympians Olympic Team in 1998.
That was massive, but working on Dancing on Ice has been a highlight not just of my career, but of my life so far.
I started skating just after Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean won the Olympics in 1984, and they were my idols. So to work with them for 6-7 months of the year has been amazing. It’s given me the chance to teach so many different people, including Corey Feldman, Vanilla Ice and Pamela Anderson. I’ve had a lot of fun and made a lot of friends.
What do you enjoy about teaching people to skate?
I enjoy passing on my passion and the knowledge I’ve built up over the last 30 years. I love teaching both kids and adults, seeing them go from gripping onto the barrier to taking those first few steps by themselves. They feel a real sense of achievement and I’ve been part of that.
What kind of lessons are you offering at Broadgate?
Whatever stage people are at, I make sure it’s fun and informative and that people get the chance to improve in that 30 minutes. I want people to enjoy themselves. I’m passionate about the future of ice skating. If you teach a child, you could be teaching the next Torvill or Dean. And with adults, I want them to enjoy both the fitness element and the satisfaction of learning a new skill.
How many lessons do people need to get confident on the ice?
It’s impossible to put a timeframe on improvement. If you spend more time on the ice, you’ll naturally improve. But if you have one lesson a week and don’t practise in between, you won’t improve. The only guarantee I give is that you will improve during the lesson.
Who’s on the teaching team at Broadgate this year?
There are three of us. As well as me, there’s my former ice skating partner, Philippa Towler-Green, and Kerri-Ann Thomas, a professional figure skater. We’re all very experienced skaters who want to show the fun side of skating with some fresh, innovative classes.
Why have the British taken to outdoor skating?
It’s such a great activity. You’re outside, it’s cold and wintry and you’re all dressed up snug and warm. It’s like a Christmas card come to life. It’s a wonderful opportunity for people to get their skates on, warm up on the ice and have some mulled wine.
Does alcohol make people better skaters?
No, save the alcohol for after your session.
What are your top tips for beginners?
First, take it nice and easy. When it’s their first time, people tend to skate as though they’re walking. But when you’re walking, the ground underneath your feet provides friction. When you’re on ice, there’s no friction. So keep your feet under your hips and take tiny little steps.
Second, expect to fall. You’ll give yourself more freedom to move and the whole experience will be much more enjoyable.
Third, book a lesson with me!