Ice skating: Sinead and John Kerr return home to fine tune Olympic and Euro bid

SCOTTISH ice dance stars used to walk around unnoticed – but that has changed.

Fame has brought recognition and John received a jolt this week when three young men shouted at him in a supermarket car park in West Lothian.

The Olympic hopeful shrugged it off just as he has countless knocks during the Kerr's climb to the top of the British rankings.

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However, the next few days could prove pivotal in the pair's bid to become European and Olympic medallists.

The brother and sister, who are the first British pair to have won a medal at a skating Grand Prix, have jetted home to Livingston from their base in Philadelphia to fine tune their routine for next week's European Championships in Estonia.

And they have gone back to their roots by training every morning in the quiet seclusion of the Murrayfield ice rink.

Coach Evgeny Platov, who doubles as their choreographer with Robert Royston, is with them along with Britain's No.2 ice dance pair of Nottingham-based Penny Coomes and Nicholas Buckland.

For four hours each day, the Kerrs painstakingly go over every step of the compulsory, free and original dance routines which will be seen by millions on TV world-wide next week in Tallinn.

The seven-times British champions, who won European bronze 12 months ago, hope to catch the judges' eyes with their original dance to "I've Been Everywhere" by legendary American country singer Johnny Cash.

From Tallinn, the pair will fly back to North America via London where they will collect their kit for the Winter Olympics in Vancouver which open on Friday, 12 February where the couple are hoping to improve on their tenth place at the 2006 games.

It's been nine long years of effort to come this far for Dundee-born Sinead, 31, and her 29-year-old brother John, who was born in Broxburn.

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They have made it to fifth in the world rankings and they are determined to win another medal in Tallinn.

John said: "That would set us up for Vancouver. It would increase the hype going into the Olympics as, traditionally, European ice dance has been really strong. But, this time, there are some quality North American couples and we have to take note of that.

"All we can do is go out there and stake to the best of our ability with our chosen pieces and let other people decide."

The Scottish couple have won fans throughout the world, including a strong contingent in Helsinki and John added: "That's only a 30-minute ferry ride from Tallinn so we hope they come to see us.

"It's certainly a big month for us, that's why we flew to Scotland to prepare for the Europeans. Flying from America straight to Tallinn would have incurred jet lag.

"Flying home to acclimatise was the best solution. It allows us to chill out back home with family, get some good home cooking and train at Murrayfield where we have always been so well looked after."

Sinead is currently nursing a cold but John added: "Our training is going well.

"The rink guys like Jo Daly, John Livingston and Murrayfield directors Billie Dunbar and Richard Stirling have been great to us over the years.

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"They've all known us since we started skating at Murrayfield years ago. Then nobody knew us and we used to walk about Edinburgh and Livingston and nobody recognised us.

"It was strange the other day when I was shouted at by three young guys in a local ASDA car park."

The European event starts on Tuesday with the compulsory dance, which was formerly one of the Kerrs' problem areas.

John said: "It was something we used to get stick for but this year we have been scoring well on it and we naturally hope that continues.

"Overall, we hope to put a marker down before the Olympics by performing well in Europe."