Sochi 2014 - Home of the 2014 Australian Olympic Winter Team

As Australians we regularly get asked with confused looks ‘why are you living in Michigan?’

Aside from the obvious reasons; access to world class coaching and training conditions which the Detroit Skating Club has to offer, the beauty of Michigan’s parks and lakes provide a great escape from the intensity of summer training when we leave the rink.

Along with volleyball, paddle boarding, boating and swimming; activities which sound a lot more like summer vacation than summer training, we have spent the (northern hemisphere) summer working hard to develop and refine our programs for the 2013-14 season.

The ice dance event is split into two parts;

- The Short Dance: which is a 3 minute program to the set rhythm of ‘Quickstep’ combined with Foxtrot, Charleston and/or Swing for the 2013-14 season. Greg & I have chosen music selections from John Barry’s ‘The Cotton Club Soundtrack’ combining a foxtrot and a fun Charleston with the required quickstep rhythm.

- The Free Dance: a 4 minute program with greater creative flexibility where teams can select their own style/theme. This season we have opted to keep our Circus Free Dance from the 2012-13 season and have made some significant changes in order to build the program and take it to the next level. This is a really fun program to perform and we hope that it will be perceived well by the judges and the audience.

On Thursday 15 August, we will return home to Sydney and are very excited to debut our programs at the first ever ‘Skate Downunder’ event, which is an international event hosted by Ice Skating Australia. Competing at our home rink, Canterbury Olympic Ice Rink, this event will give us an opportunity to get our new programs out in competition as well as receive valuable feedback to assist with our preparation for the 2013 Nebelhorn Trophy, our Olympic Qualification event (September, 2013).

Having spent the past 9 months in the USA we are both really looking forward to catching up with family and friends in Sydney and hope that the international event will be the beginning of future figure skating events hosted in Australia.

Hope to see you in Sydney :)

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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