Sochi 2014 - Home of the 2014 Australian Olympic Winter Team

Our trip home to Sydney for ‘Skate Downunder’ wasn’t off to the best of starts when after 3 hours in Detroit airport we were forced to call it a day and return home after our plane to Dallas failed to arrive.  Just as perplexed by the situation were our training mates who didn’t expect to see us on the ice the morning after having extended their goodbyes & good lucks. 

Training complete and take 2 and we were off; a much larger itinerary this time, visiting both NY airports, LAX & finally Sydney. Despite the extra long travel day, I’m not one to complain. Touching down at home would have to be one of the best feelings in the world, combined with a not so wintery morning; warmer than the summer weather we left in Detroit!

With a day of lost time to make up, we hit the ice 2 hours after landing and with our AOC medical, physical and dental screenings complete it was time to catch up with family before the competition began.

Skate Downunder, hosted by Ice Skating Australia & NSW Ice Skating Association is the first opportunity that Greg & I have had to compete internationally on home ice. To add to the experience, we were excited to compete at our home rink (Canterbury Olympic Ice Rink), where we both took our first steps on the ice and went on to train as a team for 12 years before relocating to Detroit.

We were extremely happy with the debut of our short dance and rejuvenated 2012/13 free dance, which are the two programs we will compete at the upcoming Olympic Qualification Event. The opportunity to iron out any creases in our programs and the feedback obtained from the judging panels was invaluable in our preparation for the 2013 Nebelhorn Trophy.

Of course such a great event could not conclude without some added excitement. As if the level of difficulty in the men’s free skating event wasn’t high enough, try competing in the dark! The second half of the men’s event came to an abrupt halt when the rink lost all power thanks to a blackout which affected an estimated 60,000 homes across Sydney. Thankfully power was restored 90 minutes later as was the buzz in the rink which was filled with great energy provided by both competitors and the awesome spectators.

Like all trips home the departure date always comes too quick! Back at work here in Detroit, Greg and I are gearing up for our next event, the Olympic Qualification event to be held September 25-28 in Oberstdorf, Germany.  We would like to extend a big thanks to Ice Skating Australia, NSW Ice Skating Association and all the volunteers as well as our friends and family who came out to support us at Skate Downunder!

Will keep you updated on our next adventure in Germany!

D&G

Danielle O'Brien

Danielle O'Brien teamed up with her ice dance partner Gregory Merriman in 1998. O'Brien and Merriman are 6-time Australian Ice Dance Champions. Their sixth title made them the most decorated of any Ice Dance pair in Australian history. They are also 3-time Junior Australian Ice Dance Champions and 5-time World Championship representatives.

After making the finals at the 2012 World Championships, the pair were unable to compete in the 2013 World Championships as they failed to record the minimum technical score in the short dance, a new rule brought in by the International Federation to reduce the number of competitors in order to eliminate preliminary qualifying rounds.

O'Brien and Merriman have competed internationally since 2002. They moved into the senior ranks in 2008 in an attempt to qualify for the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics. The day before the Olympic Qualification competition, Merriman was hospitalised with Pericarditis - an infection in the sac surrounding the heart. The pair were forced to withdraw from the event and had to set their sights beyond Vancouver onto Sochi.

In 2011 the pair moved from Sydney to train at the Detroit Skating Club in Michigan, USA under 5 of the world's best coaches; Pasquale Camerlengo, Angelika Krylova, Massimo Scali, Natalia Deller & Elizabeth Swallow. O'Brien will turn 24 on the day of the Opening Ceremony in Sochi.

Merriman and O'Brien qualified for the Sochi 2014 Games by finishing sixth at the final qualification event - the Nebelhorn Trophy, in Oberstdorf, Germany.

Sochi so Soon!

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