FIGURE SKATING: As figure skater Chantelle Kerry aims at selection for Sochi, she does so with the support of her family behind her all the way.
The young Sydney skater is coached by her mother, Monica MacDonald – herself a figure skating OIympian from the 1988 Calgary Games, where she competed in ice dancing alongside Rodney Clarke.
Kerry is one of six ladies vying to make the Australian Team for the 2014 Olympics – a dream she has had since first putting on skates at just 18 months of age.
“To compete at the Olympic Games would be the best experience of my life,” 17-year-old Kerry said.
“To be able to reach the goal that all the hard work, great times, and tough times went into would be an indescribable feeling.
“To add on top of all that, I would be sharing the experience with my mum who not only lived it in her own career, but also has been the biggest influence and help in my own, would just make it that much better.”
Kerry has had her mum by her side every step of the way through her figure skating career – the pinnacle of which she reached in 2012 when she competed at the inaugural Winter Youth Olympic Games in Innsbruck, Austria.
Kerry was the sole figure skater on the Australian team and finished a commendable 10th place in the individual ladies program.
Since Innsbruck, she has developed two new routines, stepped up to compete in senior tournaments and has also been working hard to improve the technical scores in both her short and free programs.
“Originally I just had the one new routine,” Kerry explained, “but after more consideration we decided to go ahead and create two new ones. Our main focus has been working towards more consistency on my jump elements and increasing the speed of my spins.”
In Kerry’s short program she has chosen a piece of music more mature than her previous pieces, indicative of her bid to become a more mature performer.
“That in itself comes with its challenges,” she said. “I have definitely connected with the music and routine and am so excited to perform it!”
Kerry will get the chance to perform next week when she takes part in a key Olympic selection event – the Skate Down Under. Taking place over two days in Sydney, the event will see Kerry take on some of the nation’s finest figure skaters as they all aim to take top honours.
Should she be successful, Kerry will then head to Germany in September to represent Australia at the Olympic Qualifying Event in Oberstdorf.
“It will definitely be tough for all the competitors – not only physically but mentally as well,” she said of the event which will be Australia’s last chance to qualify a spot for Sochi.
“If I am selected to head to Germany, it will take clean programs to secure an Olympic quota place. I think that a huge part of securing the place though is mental toughness.
“In past years at events like this, people have seen that it’s the athletes who can mentally handle the pressure are the ones who make it. This has been a big focus in my training this season.”
At the Skate Down Under, Kerry will of course have mum Monica by her side – but the family connection doesn’t end there. Brother Brendan will also be lining up in the men’s individual competition with his sights also set on an Olympic berth.
Among other competitors, Brendan will compete against Queenslander David Kranjec. The two young men have been neck and neck for the last few years and finished 21st and 23rd respectively at the recent Four Continents Championships in Osaka, Japan.
The Skate Down Under competition will take place on Wednesday 21 and Thursday 22 August at Sydney’s Canterbury Ice Rink and will decide the individual men’s and ladies competitor along with the ice dance pair to head to Germany.