Neil Chilcott. Credit: National Ice Centre.

Nottingham Ice Dance coach, Neil Chilcott, will be watching on as his former student Olivia Smart competes in the Winter Olympics this month.

Smart will be representing Spain in Beijing, skating with her male partner of nearly six years, Adrian Diaz.

The pair are hoping for a high finish, having recently won the 2021 Skate Canada International bronze medal as well as being three-time Spanish national champions.

Chilcott coached Smart for a number of years at the junior and senior level, nurturing her into the skater she is today.

“I’m very proud of Smart, it’s amazing to see her go on and achieve great things” said Chilcott.

“It’s the best feeling to know that you’ve played a part in helping athletes to get to where they are today.

“I will definitely be watching Olivia this month and hopefully her and her partner can do really well in Beijing.”

Before Chilcott started coaching ice dances’ top athletes, he was competing within the sport himself.

Taking inspiration from the 1980 Olympic champion, Britain’s own Robin Cousins, Chilcott picked up the sport as a boy.

He found a love for skating and started to compete nationally, finishing third at the junior British Championships one year.

While he was successful as a junior skater, his greatest achievements waited for him as a coach years later.

With his junior career coming to an end, Chilcott started to coach under former Olympian Karen Barber.

Barber, who is the current partner of Christopher Dean of the famous ‘Torvill and Dean’, taught him how to coach and gave him experience with her students.

Chilcott quickly grew into the role, taking on his own skaters and competing in national and international competitions.

He added: “I did well at skating within my own career but coaching is what I really enjoy and what I’ve had more success in.

“I knew Barber from being around the sport, obviously she had competed at the Olympics so it was a great opportunity.

“I started coaching under her, where I learned a lot. I then started coaching my own skaters and have worked to where I am now.”

During his coaching career Chilcott has won several national championships at the novice, junior, and senior level with his skaters.

He has also coached at international competitions, finishing in the top three at a number of tournaments.

One of Chilcott’s coaching highlights has been coaching skaters Penny Coomes and Nicholas Buckland to a top 20 finish in the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics.

He has also coached other skaters who have gone onto Olympic stardom, including Smart who is already in Beijing to compete this month.

“It is an experience like no other”, said Chilcott, when talking about his experiences at international tournaments and the Olympics.

“To be able to travel the world and compete with the best is amazing, it makes all the hard work worth it.

“Going to the Olympics in 2010 was brilliant and it’s great to see my former skaters go on to other games.”

Since the Vancouver games, Chilcott has taken a different role in coaching.

He has coached a number of celebrities for the popular reality TV show, Dancing on Ice, including presenter Natalie Pinkham, cricketer Dominic Clark, and Paralympian Stefanie Reid.

With his top athletes having moved on, Chilcott is also focusing on the next generation of talent, coaching younger children and beginners.

“It’s very different to what I was doing before and it does pose its challenges but I do still enjoy it” said Chilcott.

“I’m coaching beginners and children, looking for the new talent and bringing the next set of starts through.”