It’s 8am on a Saturday and the promising figure skating duo have just completed a training session. They’ve been on the ice since 5.45am.
For the aspiring athletes this is not an exception – it’s the norm. Six mornings a week Matilda (17) and William (18) are skating before the sun rises.
The ice dancing team train at the Macquarie Ice Rink on Sydney’s lower north shore and have been skating as a team for three years.
“We get on really well,” Matilda said. “We help each other and have a good working relationship.”
Matilda and William's years of training have been rewarded with selection to the Australian team for the 2017 Asian Winter Games in Sapporo.
“Japan is my favourite country,” Matilda said.
“Our first international competition was in 2014 in Nagoya and it was the scariest thing I have ever done in my life.
“Since then we’ve done quite a few competitions together and we know how to deal with the little things,” she said.
William and Matilda are ambitious young adults and their determination extends well beyond the ice rink. Matilda is in her final year of school and William is about to start an architecture degree.
“There are definitely compromises with the life that we’ve chosen,” William said. “Being an elite athlete you have to sacrifice some things and you try and make the best of both worlds.
“I don’t think I’m missing out because this is a big part of my life and you make it work,” he said.
Before they represent Australia at the Asian Winter Games, the ice dancers will travel to South Korea for Four Continents – an annual international figure skating event that attracts many of the world’s top competitors.
It will be a milestone occasion for the two who will get a rare chance to compete against their heroes, Canadian Olympic Champions Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir.
“When I was eleven I was training in Moscow and the World Championships happened to be held there,” Matilda said. “We were on our way to the rink and I saw Virtue and Moir and freaked out because I was obsessed with them.
“They came out of retirement this season and it didn’t occur to me that they would go to Four Continents. I saw the entry list and I thought, ‘this is crazy’,” she said.
William says its surreal to be competing against skaters of their calibre.
“Everyone loves Virtue and Moir so competing against them is an amazing opportunity that shouldn’t be taken for granted,” he said.
William and Matilda treat every competition as a learning experience and both have aspirations to make it to an Olympic Games.
“When you’re at a competition, you may not realise it but you’re always subconsciously getting better because your surrounded by people who are stronger than you,” William said.
“We want to be the sort of skaters who people look at and say, ‘wow, look at that team,’ – that’s where we want to be eventually,” he said.
Before meeting up with the 30-strong Australian team in Sapporo for the 2017 Asian Winter Games, Matilda and William will join Australian figure skaters Harley Windsor and Ekaterina ‘Katia’ Alexandrovskaya along with Sochi Olympian Brendan Kerry and Kailani Craine for the Four Continents event in South Korea from 14-19 February.
The 2017 Asian Winter Games will be held from 19-26 February.