Hello, my name is Ian Robertson and I established Specialist Skating Services in the early 1990s to offer leading edge equipment, and services for serious skaters.
Although I am semi-retired and work from home, I can be available most weekdays 9.30am – 5.30pm and Saturday mornings, but if you let me know when you are coming I can ensure that you don’t have a wasted journey.
Specialist Skating Services was originally formed in central Scotland when our two daughters were figure skating. Equipment was not as readily available as it is these days and an approach was made to John Wilson for the supply of figure skating blades. Once blades were available to us we were often asked for skating boots and we were given a dealership by New English.
Over time we widened our range of skating boots by importing from both Canada(SK) and the USA (Riedell) and later were very fortunate to be put in touch with Don Klingbeil and became a dealer for his excellent boots. We were one of the first UK dealers to offer Mondor skating tights.
In the early days we operated on a part-time basis as Ian was fully employed as a computer consultant.
After experiencing some very poor sharpening Ian was put in touch with the then top UK skate sharpener John Turner who supplied some tuition and sold us one of his machines. Over time our reputation for fine sharpening grew and this feature became one of our core activities, opening many doors for us.
We moved to Dumfries in South Scotland and having been made redundant in computing (Ian) we decided to see if a part time activity could provide us with a regular income. We had taken on the shop in the Ice Bowl some months prior. It was at this point my wife Joan took on the role of company administrator, a role she was to fulfil till we left the UK in 2012. We also ran a shop in the Linx Arena in Aberdeen. It was when we were trading in Aberdeen that the Dumfries management decided to put the shop out to tender imposing terms which we found to be unacceptable, so we let this outlet go.
We decided not to renew the Aberdeen lease as Joan and I were in our late 60s and moved to Blackburn in Lancashire where our younger daughter was coaching. We carried on trading from home in Blackburn and provided quality sharpening to many skaters in the North West of England. We visited a number of rinks on a regular basis.
Dancing on Ice
It was shortly after we arrived in Blackburn that we were asked to become involved with ITV’s Dancing on Ice at the prompting of Karen Barber who along with husband Stephen has been our younger daughter’s coaches. This enhanced our reputation no end as were looking after not only celebrity and professionals equipment but those of Jayne Torvill and Christpher Dean. We arranged the supply of three pairs of boots from Don Klingbeil for Jayne, while we were involved with the show. We worked on the first 7 series of the program, helping with equipment supply and looking after it. We attended the meet and greets where the celebrities met Jayne and Chris for the first time and were issued with their boots and blades. We ironed out equipment problems over the initial training and then attended first week rehearsals and the weekend transmissions. We sharpened the blades at the end of the final transmission of the weekend. Once the tours started we attended several locations sharpening and addressed any kit issues.
Both of our daughters moved to New Zealand in 2007 and it was suggested that we try to join them. After a qualifying period we made application under the parents of resident’s scheme and our residence was granted in early 2012.
Joan and I sold up in the UK and moved to Auckland in late 2012.
I was encouraged to take up the mantle once more although I had reached the age of 70 as no one seemed to specialise in looking after the figure skating fraternity locally. To this end we formed Specialist Skating Limited, ‘we’ being my younger daughter Stephanie along with her husband Darren and of course myself.
We provide quality equipment from a variety of suppliers offering a high level of service and back up and of course precision blade sharpening. Earlier in 2015 we undertook a trip to the South Island of New Zealand with the end result of appointing an agent in Dunedin and placed two of Sid Broadbents fabulous sharpening machines one in Christchurch and the other in Dunedin. We keep 2 of these machines for our own use in Auckland.
If you’d like to find out more about Specialist Skating Services details of how to get in touch with us can be found on our ‘Contact Us‘ page.