DANCING on Ice hopefuls have been gearing up for their challenge by training in the region.
Former Crusaders star Gareth Thomas and Olympic gymnastics medalist Beth Tweddle underwent intensive training at Deeside Leisure Centre in the run-up the ITV show.
Another contestant, actress Samia Ghadie, also spent time filming at the leisure centre.
Penny Hebden-Jacks, a coach at Deeside Leisure Centre, helped train Beth and Gareth and has hailed the efforts both have shown after being novices on the ice rink.
She said: “Both are incredibly nice people and were a pleasure to work with.
“They were both eager to learn and have the determination to succeed. But we also had a great laugh training together.
“It would be my dream for both of them to appear in the final. I feel very nervous for them when they are about to skate on the show.
“They are out of their comfort zone. The sports they do are totally different to this.”
The attitude of Gareth was particularly impressive as he would be at the rink before 6am ahead of rehearsals for panto in Wrexham.
“It was a hell of a schedule for them,” she added.
“They were doing this on top of their other commitments and I was very impressed with them. Gareth would be on the ice first thing in the morning.
“They were both incredibly nice people.”
During their training sessions the Dancing on Ice contestants met skaters including Jody Owens, of Mancot, who has triumphed in competitions.
She said: “It was a pleasure to meet them and spend time with them.
“They were brilliant on the ice. I was really impressed with Beth and Gareth really goes for it.”
The presence of the star names on the ice rink has been welcomed by staff at Deeside Leisure Centre.
Colin Hughes, who manages the ice rink, said: “We have been delighted to have them training here.
“It is good for us they want to come here. We have had people from the series training here before.
“They are really nice people who are very down to earth.
“The standard they showed was good. We hope the show can increase interest in ice dancing.”
The contestants all escaped the ignomy of being the first to be thrown out at the weekend.
Samia and Beth were in the first round of contestants and survived while former Baywatch star Pamela Anderson was given the boot.
Gareth is due to take his first turn on the ice this weekend.