Mark Hanretty introduces Aerial Ice: A breathtaking combination of skating and aerial arts

Mark Hanretty introduces Aerial Ice: A breathtaking combination of skating and aerial arts
Written by Vertical Wise

Mark Hanretty skates and flies at the same time! He is a Scottish-born ice skater who represented Great Britain at the World and European championships. We saw him performing aerial act while ice skating. It was breathtaking and somehow risky. We wanted to learn more so here he is to answer our questions. 

Feel free to ask your question as well at the end of the interview in our comments section.

Mark give us a description of what an “aerialist skater” is.

Aerialist skater is a performer who combines figure skating and aerial arts.

What’s the most difficult aspect of combining ice skating and aerial arts?

One of the most difficult aspects of combining the two disciplines is the danger of using sharp blades on the silks. Also, it can be really challenging to climb the silks with the increased weight of the heavy skates!

How did the idea of combining both come about?

I have performed and competed as a skater for my whole life. In 2013 my wife gave birth to our son and since then we have had a second child, a baby girl earlier this year. As a family man, I do not want to be away from my family for a prolonged period and therefore long contracts as a skater are not possible. It was suggested that having an act may attract some shorter performance opportunities or even one-off performances. I am reluctant to stop performing altogether but hopeful that being an aerialist skater combines my desire to be a good husband and father as well as a performer!

Mark Hanretty introduces Aerial Ice: A breathtaking combination of skating and aerial arts

What makes you want to combine them both and not to do them separately?

Having skated for my entire life, it was exciting to learn a new skill and combining my favourite passion of ice skating with the new world of aerial is both exciting and thrilling!

If you had to come up with a name for this art what would it be?

Aerial Ice.

Can someone who knows just how to ice skate or just how to use the aerial silks try this out?

I have seen some less experienced skaters perform with silks. It is possible to do, but I think it makes the transition from ice to air more sticky. Being able to transition seamlessly is obviously a plus for any performer and particularly between the ice and the silks.

Mark Hanretty introduces Aerial Ice: A breathtaking combination of skating and aerial arts

What are the most important tips someone has to know so as to skate and fly at the same time?

When transitioning from ice to air, the skater must be incredibly aware of the relationship between their blades and the apparatus!

Have you ever had any thoughts or concerns about your safety or the safety of others around you?

I was very fortunate to attend a reading course held by the high-performance company run by Bryan Donaldson. Theoretically, I am better educated now to rig my own equipment, however, I would still continue to feel far more comfortable with a more experienced rigger!

Are there any individuals who oppose what you do?

My mum hates to see any videos or footage of me on the silks, now as a parent myself, I can understand her concerns. However, I feel comfortable with the training that has been given and I hope to always be safe!

Thank you, Mark!

Learn more about Mark Hanretty: Following nine years as a successful singles skater, I found my most suited discipline in ice dance at the age of 19. Beyond my amateur career, I enjoyed multiple seasons as a professional skater in Torvill and Dean’s hit TV show, Dancing on Ice.
Amidst many exciting performing opportunities, I am lucky enough to have carved a successful career as a coach and choreographer. Most notably, I won the Young Artist Showcase competition in 2012; a worldwide choreography competition for figure skaters. This accolade paved the way for work as the principal choreographer for numerous skaters from Sweden, Germany, America, Japan and the UK.
My choreography was performed at the Sochi 2014 Olympics by British champions, Matt Parr and Jenna McCorkell. This season, alongside many British international competitors, I am working closely with the German junior ice dance champions, Katharina Muller and Tim Dieck.
With my wife, Kathy, we run “Hanretty Skate Camps”, a series of skate camps for all ages of competitive skaters. This fuels our passionate desire to create world-class, homegrown skating from the UK.
In my spare time(!), I have created an aerial skating act in which I work as a silks artist. Videos of this madness can be seen in the Choreography section.
We hope you enjoy keeping up to date with my adventures and I look forward to sharing more exciting news soon!

About the author

Vertical Wise

The international website working to support and spread the word about the pole and aerial fitness

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