A Roedean schoolgirl has just been crowned the 2019 U13 British Champion in 500m speed skating – a sport she took up just 12 months ago.
12-year-old Alex Snowdon, who goes to Roedean School, took gold medals in the 500m, Super Sprints and Mass Start categories of the British Longtrack Championships last weekend in The Hague. She also bagged a silver in the 100m, meaning she took the British champion title.
This is an incredible achievement for Alex as just one year ago she had never thought of entering the sport. Now her precocious talent has earned her a ranking of U13 37th in the world for the 500m, considered the biggest distance in Longtrack speed skating.
Prior to speedskating, Alex was a figure skater and has competed for Great Britain a number of times, winning four international golds and one bronze medal in the process. At just 10 years old, she was also the 2017 U13 British Solo Ice Dance silver medallist.
Alex started figure skating competitively at the age of six and quickly qualified for BIS’s (British Ice Skating’s) national development squad becoming their youngest member. At age seven, she was the youngest competitor to have ever qualified for a British Figure Skating Championships, having successfully qualified for the British Solo Ice Dance Championships held at IceSheffield.
Alex explained: “After watching Elise Christie compete at the Winter Olympics last year I knew I wanted to be a speed skater. It jst looked like it would be so much fun. I took time out from ice dance to focus on speed skating but after just a couple of months I decided I did not want to go back. Speed skating is my life now and I seem to have adjusted quickly to new styles of skates and a new style of skating.”
“I started working really hard once I became interested and I really liked it. In September last year, I got my short track time down to 59 seconds for a 500m distance and started shaving off seconds until, at 53.2 seconds, I qualified to compete in the ISU Star Class series, a European competition exclusively for Europe’s elite young speed skaters.”
Alex skates both short track and long track – the former is a lightning-fast, adrenaline-fuelled winter sport full of unpredictability, where skaters reach speeds of up to 50kmph on blades 46cm long and only 1mm thick. The latter is the equivalent of running races in athletics - but on ice.
Alex has an impressive training schedule that sees her travel to The Hague in Holland with her parents most weekends during competition season (September to March) to train on a long track rink as there are none in the UK.
Back at school in the week, she puts in hours of fitness training each day after school. With a glittering skating future ahead of her, she has her eyes firmly set on competing at the 2026 Winter Olympics.
“I know I can get there if I put in the training. It’s definitely something I feel I can do! It would be such a proud moment to represent my country at the Olympics!”
Roedean’s Director of Enrichment, Dr Ross Barrand added: “Alex works incredibly hard and puts so much time and effort into her sport. We are extremely proud of her. Her achievements are an inspiration to everyone at school.”