Series: Skate School: Book 4
By Kay Woodward
“Welcome to the Opening Ceremony of the Winter Olympics!”
The loudspeaker sent sound waves echoing round the crowded tunnel. Every single member of Team GB was here. They stood together proudly, an elite group of world-class snowboarders, cross-country skiers, curlers and – of course – figure skaters, all united by the same magical dream: to win gold.
Frankie Wills could hardly believe it. She was here, at last. She shut her eyes and hugged herself tightly as feelings of delirious excitement swirled through her, swiftly followed by hot panic. And nerves. So many nerves.
“Are you okay?” The voice seemed to come from far away.
“Huh?” Frankie wrenched her lids open and found that she was staring dumbstruck into eyes so gorgeously green they could only belong to one person.
“I…er…sorry, I was just a bit overwhelmed by everything,” Frankie stammered, pushing messy, dark hair away from her face. She couldn’t help being dazzled by his broad smile. Dylan was the best. Well, she thought so, anyway. And if it weren’t for the punishing schedule at Skate School – and the fact that Madame von Berne had a complete downer on relationships between her students – they’d have been an item ages ago.
For now, they were just good friends.
Nearby, the crowd roared, reminding Frankie that there were just a few seconds before everything kicked off. Now wasn’t the time to be staring dreamily at the boy she hoped would be her boyfriend one day.
“Come on,” said Alesha, nudging Dylan aside. “We’re next!”
Frankie smiled nervously at her. Alesha was the best and most loyal friend a girl could wish for. More at home in head-to-foot black than the red beret, white jacket and black trousers of the Team GB outfit, she still looked fabulous, with her long, jet-black hair and kohl-smudged eyes.
Then Frankie’s gaze skittered nervously around the other figure skaters.
Scarlett stood beside her, admiring her pink lipgloss in a small mirror and casually flicking back glossy blonde hair. Frankie’s arch-rival and a wannabe celebrity, she was here to win.
Briefly, Frankie’s eyes alighted on Dylan again – she mentally shook herself and her gaze skipped on to Paul. Wiry and thin with dark hair, he was simply great. Apart from one horrible bust-up over the Perfect Pairs competition, they’d always got on. And she so wanted him to do well.
Finally, there were Edward and Anushka – Team GB’s hopefuls in the pair skating competition. Tall and elegant, with striking features, cool demeanours and matching sleek, black hair, they were the perfect team.
Frankie could barely believe she belonged with this group of super-talented people. Not so very long ago, she’d been a schoolgirl who loved to skate. But then she’d been discovered by Madame and fast-tracked through Skate School and now she was an ice princess who was here – really here – at the Winter Olympics. And she so wanted to wow everyone and show them all that the hard work had been worth it. But could she
do it? Could she actually win gold for Great Britain…?
“Hey!” said a burly usher, grinning at everyone. “They’re waiting for you!”
Scarlett smiled sweetly at the official and then turned to Alesha. “Darling, I know you have problems staying upright on the ice,” she said cattily. “Do you think you can manage to walk around an Olympic arena without tripping up?” She gave a tinkling laugh and started to make her way up the ramp.
“Ignore her!” Frankie whispered to Alesha. “She’s just trying to wind you up.” Gently, she pushed her friend after the other team members and they made their way along the dark, echoing tunnel.
“Good luck, everyone.” The cool voice belonged to a petite, dark-haired woman with icy-blue eyes – Madame Kristiana von Berne. To her students, Madame was the single most important person here. The ice princess of her day, she’d fallen at the World Figure Skating Championships and missed gold by a whisker. Her injuries meant that she’d never skated competitively again. But she hadn’t left figure skating. Now, she was coaching director for the Team GB figure skating team – and the most glamorous one they’d ever had. She was never seen in anything less than full make-up and stunning clothes. Madame even made the official Olympic outfit look good. But that was all anyone knew about her. She was notoriously bad-tempered and fiercely private too. Last year, she’d allowed Frankie the briefest glimpse of her past, telling her that a boy had ruined her dreams – and then refused to speak of it again. All the students wondered what had happened
to make her so totally focused on skating.
“Let’s go,” said Madame, a rare smile illuminating her face.
They stepped out into the blindingly bright light.
Frankie had never experienced anything like this before. The atmosphere was electric, with music and cheering building to a crescendo of noise. And the arena itself looked amazing – tier upon tier of seating, crammed with countless spectators who cheered and applauded and wolf-whistled until Frankie felt that if she stopped walking, she’d simply be carried along on an enormous wave of goodwill.
“Grande-Bretagne! Great Britain!” cried the commentator.
Frankie just stared. The arena was so vast, you’d need a telescope to see the far side. Plus, of course, this Opening Ceremony would have a TV audience of millions. Then the truth hit… Her dream had come true. She was the famous figure skater that she’d always wanted to be. And she was about to compete for the biggest prize of them all. It didn’t get better than this.
As if by magic, her nerves were replaced by pure adrenalin. “The Olympic Games start here,” she murmured. And then, taking a deep breath and filling her lungs with cold air, she stepped forward. Suddenly, she knew that she was going to enjoy herself. A lot.
“Hey,” said Paul, “look how they’ve projected all the flags onto the seating!”
“Cool,” said Dylan. He bunched his eyebrows together thoughtfully. “I wonder how they’ve done that…?”
“Who cares?” said Scarlett. “There are thousands of people here and millions watching us on television around the world. I think we should just wave and smile, don’t you?”
For once, Frankie had to admit that the Queen of the Ice – as they all nicknamed Scarlett – was right. As the flag-bearer walked ahead of Team GB, holding the large Union flag up high, she hurried after him.
The Olympic Opening Ceremony was so big that it seemed impossible not to feel shy at first. But as Frankie grew more confident, she began to wave her own miniature flag at the crowds. Soon, she was smiling and waving as madly as the rest of Team GB as the crowd cheered and clapped.
Scarlett held a pink camcorder aloft as she paraded along, flinging her long, golden hair back for the benefit of film crews and photographers.
“What are you doing?” hissed Paul out of the side of his mouth.
“I’m recording an exclusive view of the event, of course,” said Scarlett. “They’ll need some footage for the TV documentary about my life after this is over.”
Everyone laughed – even Madame – as they all moved forward, soaking up the wonderful atmosphere. If it were possible to bottle a moment and keep it for ever, then Frankie would have chosen this one. Camera flashes sparkled in the spectator seating, music blared and the crowds madly applauded the hundreds of athletes who’d travelled to Canada from all around the world.
And Frankie was one of them.
It was an amazing feeling.
As the TV cameras swooped by Team GB again, Frankie gave a bashful wave. It was the middle of the night back home in London. But she knew that no matter how late it was, Mum and Dad would be watching. Josh, her sometimes annoying and occasionally cool brother, would be glued to the television too. And her very young twin sisters, Meg and Jess, would catch her on the repeat the next day. She felt a pang as she
thought of them all, so far away in London. She so wished they were here to watch her skate, but air tickets didn’t come cheap and that was that. They’d arranged to Skype each other whenever possible to make up for it.
“Isn’t this awesome?” Dylan said, striding along beside her. He caught Frankie’s hand and clasped it firmly as they walked onwards. “Is this what it’s like being famous, do you think?”
Frankie had a sudden flashback to their hugely embarrassing brush with stardom the year before, when a supposedly secret kiss between herself and Dylan had been shown in living rooms around the world on the reality TV programme, Stars of the Ice Palace. She’d hated the attention. But this was very different. Frankie grinned up at Dylan. “Dunno.” She shrugged. “But now that I’ve got over the sheer terror of
appearing in front of millions of people, I think I might actually be enjoying myself.”
As they walked on together, Frankie’s thoughts whizzed back to the World Championships, just twelve months earlier. She’d clinched bronze with a stunning performance of her Swan Lake program, but Madame had told her bluntly that she needed to do better still for the Olympics. This time, both the short program and the free skate had to be totally, completely and mind-blowingly brilliant, which was a tall order. As if he
could read her mind, Dylan gave her hand a quick, comforting squeeze and she smiled up at him gratefully.
“Hey!” said Scarlett.
Stupidly annoyed by her rival butting in, Frankie tried her best not to look bothered as Scarlett snatched Dylan’s free hand and caught hold of Paul’s hand too. On the other side, Alesha grasped Paul’s free hand, while Edward and Anushka joined the end of the line, so all seven of the Team GB skaters were marching along together.
Scarlett held Dylan’s hand aloft, to the delight of the crowds. “They know real champions when they see them, don’t they?” she murmured under her breath.
Frankie felt a small stab of jealousy. Then quickly, she shrugged it off. Madame was so against figureskating
relationships that she was sure Dylan wouldn’t be going out with anyone until the pressure was off, least of all Scarlett. At least, she hoped so.
Tumultuous cheers burst from the grandstands now as the Canadians – as the host country, they were traditionally the last to appear – marched into the arena to join the other teams. The Olympic Opening Ceremony was reaching a crescendo. An intrepid snowboarder whooshed down a ski jump and rocketed
through one of the five interlinked circles of the Olympic logo to tumultuous applause. Then the tiny figures of two pop stars – magnified on huge screens – appeared to sing the theme song of the Games, which signalled the end of the official ceremony…
…and the beginning of the party.
Frankie couldn’t stop smiling. This was just the start. How much more amazing would the figure skating be? She couldn’t wait to find out.
Bring it on!
Frankie’s dream has come true. She’s made it to the Olympics and she’s going for gold! But the competition is fierce and one of her rivals will stop at nothing to win. Can Frankie keep a cool head and skate to perfection when it matters most? Capturing the glamour, heartache and triumphs of Junior Olympic figure-skating, this stunning series whisks readers off, quite literally, to the coolest boarding school on earth.
“Going for Gold has all the sizzling suspense and high drama that we have come to expect from this top-class series. There are never any guarantees that Frankie will make it to the pinnacle of her sport and Woodward keeps us guessing to the very last pages.”
Lancashire Evening Post
“This is the fourth and final book in the brilliant Skate School series, perfect for ice skating fans aged about 9 or 10 and up. You don't have to know anything about ice skating to enjoy it, though - the joy and tension of the sport comes across clearly on the page, and the book is also crammed with friendship drama, a sneaky mystery and a very sweet, gentle romance. All the characters are fantastic, including the hilarious diva-like Scarlett and the new additions from other teams. This is also the book in which readers will discover the truth about Madame Kristiana von Berne and some rivalries from the past. Everything in this book ties together magically, and it will leave you with a huge smile on your face.”
“I really enjoyed this book. I might say I more than enjoyed it. It’s one of the best chick-lits I’ve read, and it’s just one of those books that you can curl up on the couch with in your slippers and dressing gown with a cup of tea, and really get into. It’s so good to see authors coming up with believable plots and characters in relation to real events like the Winter Olympics. I’ve also read the first book in the series and I’m waiting to get the other two in our school library. So if you are looking for a nice girly-style book I would suggest that this should be the one you pick up!”