Earlier this year, Tippy Packard returned for her second series as a professional skater on Dancing on Ice, where she partnered comedian Darren Harriott. In 2022, Tippy partnered BMX racer Kye Whyte, with whom she reached the Semi-Final for her skating debut on ITV. For the 75th Anniversary of Holiday on Ice in 2018, Tippy became the first female principle, and she has toured the world as a show skater for companies like Royal Caribbean Ice Shows. We chatted to Tippy, who talked to us about making her debut on Dancing on Ice last year with Kye Whyte, partnering Darren Harriott for the 2023 series and being the first female principle for the 75th Anniversary of Holiday on Ice.
You joined the line-up of professional skaters on Dancing on Ice last year, do you remember how you felt finding out you’d be joining the show?
I was in shock and then in tears of happiness. I was shocked because a few weeks before the live auditions I had taken an awful fall down the stairs and thought I broke my ankle. I could not walk on it and definitely could not skate on it. I did not want to miss my opportunity and went to the audition anyway. With the help of my now skating colleague, Mark Hanretty, I was able to learn and skate a routine for the auditions and I am guessing made a good impression to get hired.
How are you finding your time on Dancing on Ice so far and what was it like returning for your second series?
I love my time on Dancing on Ice. I wish it was all year round, but you probably cannot have too much of a good thing. Every year is so different, but it was great to be asked back for my second series.
In this year’s series, you were partnered with stand-up comedian Darren Harriott, what did you enjoy most about skating together?
I enjoyed having to get really technical. Darren was so keen on learning how to skate, and he wanted to get every edge right. We had a really rough start because his skates were so big, and it took some time to get used to. Once Darren was able to get the feel of his skates, he excelled tremendously.
What was the experience like skating with Olympic BMX racer Kye Whyte last year and reaching the Semi-Final?
It still blows my mind that we made it so far! We were probably in the skate-off five times and we kept making it out alive! We just always went into each week having the best time and always laughing. Kye definitely pushed the bar and was even brave enough to try the headbanger with me.
How is it preparing your celebrity partners for a new performance each week and seeing their skating progress?
It is so stressful! But my years of experience help me absorb all the stress for both of us. I try to go in as prepared as I can be every week, but it is really hard to be creative and innovative with someone who has just learned how to skate a few months ago. Dan Whiston and Karen Barber are great assets to the creative process and help bring the best out of my celebrity partners and me.
Have you had any favourite routines to perform whilst on the show and what is it like receiving feedback from Olympic Gold medallists Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean?
My favourite routines from Series 14 would be The Jive for Torville & Dean Week, and Oliver Twist from Musicals Week. From Series 15, my favourite was definitely Fireball for our opening routine, and Top Gun for Movie Week.
What do you find the most rewarding and most challenging aspects of being in the cast of Dancing on Ice?
The amount of appreciation from Kye and Darren is the most rewarding part of Dancing on Ice. I love how they noticed how much skating and this job means to me. They gave me their all every week, and I could not have asked for anything more. Being picked out of thousands of applicants every year, and being able to share my passion for this sport is such an honour, but at the same time a lot of pressure to do my best. We have so many eyes on us and I just want to do the best for my partner. I want my partner to walk away feeling proud of their accomplishments.
In 2018, you became the first female principal for the 75th Anniversary of Holiday on Ice, can you tell us about your time with the production?
Honestly, I did not know how big it was when I got offered the job. When I spoke to a few of my colleagues, I then learned how special it was to be picked for this jubilee show. The cast had the privilege of telling the creator of Holiday on Ice’s life story, and all his epic characters he created throughout the years. When I was at rehearsals and saw the whole show come to life, I was in awe. I never worked for a production this big, and to see nothing become something so legendary was such an exciting experience. It was so warming to be able to represent my heritage as the Asian Beauty in the show. I was so proud to be able to perform this fierce solo. Right from the start with the initial strike of the fans, the force and impact it had on the solo still gives me goosebumps. I am so grateful I got the opportunity to do this amazing show before Dancing on Ice because it not only made me a better performer, but a better teacher.
What is it like touring the world as a show skater and being part of companies like Royal Caribbean Ice Shows?
I was happy and content living in Orange County, California and probably did not know any better, but travelling the world was life-changing and such an eye-opener. The amount of people I have met, the beautiful places I have seen and the delicious food I have tasted has forever changed me. Not only did I get to travel the world, but I got to perform in all the high caliber shows on the cruise ships every voyage. I learned so much from all my fellow show skaters and loved being able to thrive and grow.
What are some of your favourite highlights from your skating journey so far?
One of my favourite highlights was from my very first show in Los Angeles at Knotts Berry Farm. I was still competing and finishing up the World Championships when I was offered a summer job at Knotts. I took it thinking it would be a fun summer gig, but it lit a fire in me. I was working with women who had been in shows for 20+ years, and could see a future for myself in shows. That was the time when I started my new path to show skating. Another highlight would have to be when I did a contract with Sean, Jodeyne, Alex, and Lukas at Christmas on Ice in Niagara Falls. They inspired me to want to be better and to continue my growth as a skater. They were probably the people who actually set me on my path for Dancing on Ice.
Can you tell us about your process of choreographing a routine?
I love to hear the music first, and then I usually do some research on the song to see when it was made and what kind of vibe it is sending. Then I try to create a story while plugging in key elements like the judges’ challenge into the routine. I am always on the move, so if you see someone singing and dancing in their car it is probably me choreographing a routine.
Where does your love of skating come from and how did you get into it?
My love of skating comes from the amount of love and effort my parents and coaches all put into me. My parents put so much effort and time into skating, and making sure I was the best skater I could be. My coaches taught me strong technique and gave me the strength to carry on until today. My love of skating has now become something I could give back to the audience and fans who watch the show.
Did you have any favourite ice skaters to watch when growing up and have you been given any advice over your career that has stuck with you?
Michelle Kwan hands down is my favourite skater. She always encouraged me to work harder. She had many obstacles to break through and she always ended up on top.
How do you like to spend your time away from skating?
I recently got a puppy, and I love getting lost with him in the woods or by the water. It has been such a treat to explore some new places near my town.
I am also a huge foodie! So I love trying new restaurants and, of course, my favourite boba places!
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Categories: home, Interview, Presenters/TV Personalities, Sports
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