Figure skater Graham Newberry competed at his third senior World Championships in Japan this March for Team GB, and also represented Great Britain at this year’s European Championships in Finland. Since starting his senior ice skating career, Graham has competed and won Gold at numerous competitions including at the 2022 British Championships. Last November, Graham competed at his first senior Grand Prix event at the MK John Wilson Trophy at IceSheffield, and he opened his 2022-2023 season getting first place and a new international personal best at the Britannia Cup. Graham also had a successful junior career, where he became 3x British champion, with his other competitions including the Junior World Championships and the European Youth Olympic Festival. With the BBC Three documentary series Freeze, Graham was part of the skaters that featured throughout the show, which followed some of Britain’s young elite figure skaters over 12 months, and all episodes are available on BBC iPlayer. Whilst Graham is currently in his off season, his main goal for this year is to be the first British man to land a quadruple jump at an international competition, and he is coached by his father Christian, who is also a British senior figure skating champion. Speaking to Graham, we found out about becoming the 2022 British champion, the events he’s competed at this year and being part of the BBC Three documentary series Freeze.
In March, you competed at your third senior World Figure Skating Championships, how did you find the experience representing Great Britain in Japan?
As always, I was extremely proud to be representing Great Britain at such a large event. Of course, having the World Championships in Japan this year was a truly amazing experience. Being home to so many great skaters, it was a dream come true to compete in Japan. It was also the largest crowd I have ever competed in front of and they were so supportive of all the skaters.
What was it like competing at the 2023 European Championships in Finland?
Competing in the European Championships in Finland this year was a bittersweet experience. I had a great start to the event, placing 15th in the short programme. But I struggled through my free programme. Managing my expectations and pressure was a big learning experience, which I hope will have a positive impact on future competitions in my career.
How is it being selected to represent Team GB at the World and European Championships and how do you prepare for these competitions?
When being selected for major championships to represent Great Britain, I feel a huge amount of pride, but also a lot of responsibility to represent the country as best as I can. I usually prepare for these events as I would for any competition, a lot of hard work! I tend to spend most of my time at the rink training or recovering at home, during the final week of preparation I tend to taper off my training and try to recover my mind and body as best as I can for the difficult challenges ahead of me.
You won Gold at last year’s British Championships, what are the British Championships like to be part of and what do you enjoy most about competing there?
It’s always an honour to compete in the British Championships. I find that, because it’s a smaller field of competition and I know most of the people at the Championships, it has a more homely feeling than any other competition. While still a very important and stressful competition, I really enjoy being surrounded by friends and family who come to cheer me on, it always spurs me on to try harder!
Can you tell us about competing at the MK John Wilson Trophy at IceSheffield for your first senior Grand Prix event, and how is it skating at an international competition in front of a home crowd?
Skating in the MK John Wilson Trophy was an amazing, but also very strange, experience for me. It was held in the same ice rink that the British Championships is always held in, so it felt somewhat normal, but British Ice Skating went the extra mile and transformed the rink into a place worthy of such a prestigious event. Competing in front of the home crowd was also a lot of fun, the crowd really got into my performance and were cheering the whole way through. It was a nice feeling to know I gave my performance my all, and everyone seemed to appreciate it.
How was it opening your 2022-2023 season with the Britannia Cup in August, where you finished in first place and got a new international personal best?
Opening last season at the Britannia Cup was an excellent start to my season. It was quite early in the season for me, but I felt relaxed and managed to have two solid performances to achieve my personal best score. It was also nice to be competing in the same arena as the MK John Wilson Trophy to give me a confidence boost for later in the season.
You had a successful junior career, where you were 3x British champion, and competed at the Junior World Championships and the European Youth Olympic Festival, what are some of your favourite memories from your junior career?
Over such a long junior career, I managed to make so many great memories. Probably my favourite memory was going to my last Junior World Championships in Taiwan. I was super excited to travel to Asia for the first time, and I had a strong performance in the competition. Another memorable experience was the European Youth Olympic Festival, it was my first experience with any Olympic setting and I loved every moment of it. The team atmosphere of a multi-sport competition was a new experience and it was amazing when I saw my whole team in the arena cheering me on. I also managed to place much higher than expected, 4th place, which is always a bonus.
What is it like representing Great Britain at international level and do you have a favourite aspect of being a competitive figure skater?
It’s always an honour to represent Great Britain at international competition. It can be difficult at times due to a lack of funding, but I love travelling to other countries and experiencing different cultures. My favourite part of being a competitive figure skater is the constant drive to improve. I’m always inspired when I compete at major championships such as the World and European Championships and I enjoy getting stuck into the hard work.
Last year, you were part of the BBC Three series Freeze, how was it filming for a TV documentary?
Being a part of the BBC Three Freeze documentary was a completely new experience for me. Although I have been on TV many times for competitions and interviews, being a part of a documentary was very different. It ended up being a lot of fun, but it was also quite stressful having my training and competitions recorded and it added an extra bit of pressure to perform well.
Had you always wanted to be a figure skater and how is it being coached by your father Christian, who is a previous British senior champion?
Ever since I can remember I wanted to be a figure skater. I grew up watching my older brother skate and I can remember him wanting to be British champion like my father, so as any younger brother would, I decided to join him in the pursuit to become British champion.
Can you tell us about your typical training day and how has it changed over time?
My typical training day right now generally consists of waking up to a cold shower in the morning and a good healthy breakfast. I generally arrive to the rink around 8am to warm up off the ice and skate until 9:30am. Followed by a small snack and a little kip to prepare for my main training session from 12:00 to 13:30, although depending on what I’m working on I sometimes shorten my training sessions down. I also stretch about 45 minutes to one hour sometime in my day, and train three to five times a week in the gym. I also coach skating every day, usually in the evening or sometimes at the end of my on ice training sessions. I have added more off ice supplementary work to my training day in the past year. I have also spent considerable time and effort working on my dietary needs, including working with a sports nutritionist.
Have you been given any advice throughout your career so far that has stuck with you and what advice would you give a new skater starting out?
The best advice I’ve received in my career is to be fit for purpose. Sometimes this means doing things you may not like, but if you want to be a professional you must act like a professional. This advice is better suited for skaters already in the sport. For anyone starting out skating, my best advice would be consistency. Training five days a week for an hour a day is better than one day a week for five hours.
How do you like to spend your time away from the sport?
Generally when I’m not in the rink or the gym, I like to spend my time resting while playing games with friends on my computer, watching anime, or reading.
Do you have any competitions coming up that you can tell us about or that you are targeting?
I’m in my off season so I have no competitions coming up for a few months. But my main goal for this upcoming season is to become the first British man to land a quadruple jump in an international competition. Most of my training focus has gone towards this goal.
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