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FIGURE SKATING: Spectators were treated to a night of glitz, glamour and first class figure skating as the Skate Down Under got underway at Sydney’s Canterbury Ice Rink today.

In their first competition of the season, Australia’s top-ranked ice dancing pair of Danielle O’Brien and Greg Merriman thrilled the crowd with their short dance to music from The Cotton Club – a 1980s movie about jazz music in Harlem.

The fast, bouncy music perfectly complemented their Finnstep routine, the chosen style for ice dance this season.

“I was a bit shaky,” O’Brien said after the routine. “But I think I pulled it back pretty well in terms of getting over the nerves for the first competition out and it felt good and it's a good start to the season.

"We've been really trying to step up our presentation side of things and get together our presence on the ice which is one thing we've been lacking...but it felt strong and it all came together really well and we love our program."

Based in the US, O’Brien and Merriman only touched down in Australia earlier this week but their performance showed no signs of fatigue as they nailed their short program for a score of 57.28.

"To be able to travel the distance we had to travel to compete and be able to put on the ice within only a few days of doing the big travel," Merriman added, "And to be able to put out a performance like we did - I think we are going to give ourselves every opportunity to qualify."

Following the ice dance was the ladies’ individual event and the crowd was treated to a stand-out performance from Sydney’s Chantelle Kerry.

The 17-year-old, who competed at the inaugural Winter Youth Olympics in Innsbruck last year, pulled out a personal best performance that stunned the crowd, her coach and also herself.

“I am just so happy,” she said. “I did everything that I have done in practice and am just so happy to have come out here and put it all together tonight. I got a personal best score for myself ever, and this early in the season felt amazing but mainly just going out there and doing the things I know I can do felt great."

Kerry’s short program which included two triple jumps and a double axel, was set to My Immortal, a song she described as “an emotional piece of music” and at the end of it – the emotions were running high.

“I’m so proud of her,” her mum and coach Monica MacDonald said amidst hugs and kisses beside the rink.

“I couldn’t have asked for much more from her than that.”

The night didn’t end there for the family however, with Chantelle’s brother, Brendan Kerry taking to the ice in the men’s individual event.

The final skater of the night, Kerry left nothing behind as he performed his short program to Nothing Else Matters – a classical rendition of a Metallica ballad.

Despite a fall in his step sequence, Kerry executed near perfect jumps to secure a personal best score of 66.37, edging out his competitors in David Kranjec and Mark Webster who also lost valuable points for falls in their routines.

Competition continues tomorrow with overall winners decided after the Free program performances.

Men’s Free – 3.45pm
Ladies Free – 5.30pm
Ice Dance Free – 6.45pm

Alice Wheeler
olympics.com.au
@AUSOlympicTeam

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