Excited skaters and coaches take to the ice as Planet Ice Leeds finally opens its doors

Leeds' first permanent ice skating rink opened its doors to the public this weekend to the delight of keen skaters.

Sunday, 2nd February 2020, 2:08 pm
Updated Sunday, 2nd February 2020, 2:10 pm

The much-awaited Elland Road rink was first proposed in 2012 and after a number of set backs it has finally opened under national brand Planet Ice.

As well as public ice skating, coaching sessions and children's birthday parties, the rink will be home to ice hockey team Leeds Chiefs.

The Chiefs played their first game at Elland Road on Friday, suffering a 4-1 defeat to a limited crowd of 500 fans.

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Excited skaters took to the rink this weekend

There is still a long way to go before the Chiefs can play to a full 2,000-plus capacity and work is still being carried out around the venue.

But the Planet Ice team were determined to open to the public this weekend, as the city's ice skaters have been waiting eight years for a permanent home.

Billy Oates was one of the first skaters on the rink with his five-year-old daughter, Frankie, when it opened at 11am on Saturday.

Coach Chloe Hadfield, 19, who is excited to have a permanent home on the ice

Billy, 32, said: "It's a lot easier to get here than to Bradford.

"Frankie loves it and I think she'll want to come more than I do! She loves whizzing round the ice."

Groups of excited children were tentatively taking to the ice, slowly finding their feet with the encouragement of coaches and birthday party hosts.

Learn to Skate sessions will launch on Monday, where new skaters can have one-to-one coaching sessions.

Coach Gabrielle Morgan of Horsforth shows her ice skating skills

Coach Chloe Hadfield, 19, has been skating since she was two years old.

She was in the Great Britain development squad until she was 17 and travelled internationally for competitions.

But Chloe, who is from Altrincham, struggled to keep up training when at university in Leeds.

Chloe said: "Now I get the best of both worlds, I have somewhere to train at home and at university.

Planet Ice is still under construction but has opened to the public

"Coaching is so rewarding and the kids really enjoy it, they get a massive sense of encouragement when you're showing your passion to them.

"Everyone is really excited to get a permanent rink and it's nice for everyone to share what I experience, it's really exciting."

Why has the rink taken so long to open?

The Elland Road ice rink was first proposed in 2012 and construction was originally set to begin in 2014.

Builders finally moved onto the site in early 2016, with owners the Ice Rink Company hoping that the attraction would be open under their Silver Lines branding by the end of that year.

National brand Planet Ice, who operate 13 other rinks across the country, later took over the project.

One of the project's major setbacks occurred in late 2017, when a winter storm blew down several wooden supports on the building site.

Chris Carpenter, general manager for Planet Ice, said: "You're going to see changes over the next two months.

"We're open and can furnish around the public and for the hockey games we're going to finish the seating off.

"There is no set timescale, but as people visit they are going to see more and more facilities becoming available."