Solicitor swaps law for speed skating

St Helens judge for the Olympic Youth Games speed skating Gordon Barnes
St Helens judge for the Olympic Youth Games speed skating Gordon Barnes
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IN his day job solicitor Gordon Barnes is used to making tough, split-second decisions.

But there’s no rest for the 56-year-old during his time off either, because the ex ice hockey player travels the world as a top-class short track speed skating referee!

Gordon, who specialises in commercial law at the St Helens Law office near St Helens Central station, is set to jet off to Innsbruck in Austria for the inaugural 10-day Winter Youth Olympics later this week.

He said: “I’ve been on the world-class refereeing panel for the last four years but just missed the Vancouver Winter Olympics, so I’m really looking forward to next week’s event.

“Speed skating is meant to be a non contact sport, but, inevitably, it doesn’t work out like that and there are a lot of high-speed coming togethers.

“I’ll be one of three referees standing in the middle of the track who must make on-the-spot decisions about whether a skater is culpable of an infringement or not.

“It’s not easy. There are blind spots on the track where skaters try to gain an advantage and even the youngsters in Innsbruck will be travelling at about 28mph.

“But the relay is the hardest to adjudicate because there are four teams of four on ice.”

Gordon, who grew up in Ayrshire, Scotland, and used to play ice hockey for Richmond Flyers, classes Canada as his favourite winter sports destination.

He added: “Korea, China and America are the leading lights in speed skating at the moment, but there will two British stars of the future competing at Innsbruck too. I can’t wait.”