TO Tingira Heights figure skater Renee Hambly ice skates are just another pair of shoes - expensive, glittery ones.
Gliding in them comes naturally to the 16-year-old national champion, who is ranked second in Australia and is about to gain a world ranking.
Renee started learn-to-skate lessons at Hunter Ice Skating Stadium when she was six.
Her older sister, Bianca, introduced her to the sport's recreational side, but Renee proved she had the potential to take it further.
She started competing in local Aussie Skate competitions when she was nine.
One weekly private lesson led to two, and before she knew it Renee was training on the ice five days a week on top of pilates and gym sessions.
However, progress has been gradual and hard-fought for Renee, who has suffered several injuries along the way. In 2010 she was off the ice for four months with stress fractures in her knees.
Two years later, an X-ray after a severe fall revealed Renee had an undetected fracture in her lower back.
Specialists told Renee she could have been born with the fracture or acquired it some years ago.
A broken wrist and two broken ribs later, Renee was out for a year.
Despite her injuries, Renee has made a stellar comeback this year and continues to improve her results.
In March she competed in the Sportland Trophy tournament in Luxembourg where she placed 12th.
Later that month Renee entered the Budapest Spring Cup and finished 10th.
Her national placing at the Winter Sun competition in Brisbane in July earned Renee the chance to grace the world stage once more.
Renee landed one of three Australian tickets to France to compete in the ISU Junior Grand Prix.
She will fly out on Monday, August 18, for a week and will return with a world ranking.