FIGURE SKATING: It really wouldn’t be a figure skating event if there wasn’t drama and on day two of the Skate Down Under there was drama aplenty.
As Maverick Eguia of the Philippines took to the ice for the men’s individual free skate, the Canterbury Olympic Ice Rink was plunged into darkness. The crowd applauded the apparent dramatic effect until it became evident that in fact a blackout had taken out the entire grid of western Sydney.
A chilly couple of hours and cups of warm tea later and the lights were back on – and so was the competition.
In an exciting night of skating, three young athletes are now one step closer to realising their Olympic dream after winning the Skate Down Under international figure skating competition in Sydney tonight.
Brendan Kerry was the first successful athlete of the evening, winning the men’s individual event with a total score of 192.28 after producing a spirited free skate performance to enthusiastic applause.
Skating to music from The Gangster Squad, Brendan edged out four other Aussie hopefuls in the men’s event and will now head to the Olympic Qualifying Event in Oberstdorf, Germany in September where he will try and secure himself an Olympic berth.
“I was a little bit nervous about two of the jumps in the program and they are the ones that I felt really good on it that program,” Brendan said of his performance. “So I am really, really ecstatic about that but then the ones that have been really, really good in practice were kind of hit and miss today. But, it’s my second comp this season so it’s a huge improvement from last season and even last competition.”
The ladies individual event followed but unfortunately it wasn’t all smooth sailing for Brendan’s sister Chantelle.
Needing a score of 141.88 to automatically secure her ticket to the Olympic Qualifying tournament, Chantelle was faced with the huge task of bettering her personal best by nearly 14 points.
Skating to music from the TV show Once Upon a Time, Chantelle produced a mature performance, indicative of the refined skater she is becoming, but she fell agonisingly short of the points she needed, finishing with 137.56.
“To be honest, I didn’t have the performance I was hoping for,” the 17-year-old skater said. “But it was still a personal best score so obviously I am still happy with that
“I know I made mistakes in it but seeing as I already got a personal best that just shows me that I have a lot of room to grow and we just have to wait and see what happens now."
Selectors now face the challenge of deciding which athlete to send to Germany for the ladies event. Australian Brooklee Han was unable to compete this week due to illness so a decision must be made as to whether officials send her or Chantelle to try and secure the Olympic quota place. A decision will be made in coming days so it’s business as usual for Chantelle who will get straight back into training, focusing on the upcoming Junior Grand Prix in Poland.
Danielle O’Brien and Greg Merriman secured their tickets to the Olympic Qualifying Event in the senior ice dance, with a final result of 139.47.
They admitted that they weren’t particularly happy with their performance, hampered by nerves, pressure and the disturbance to routine caused by the lengthy blackout delays. They will be using this experience however to prepare for whatever will come their way in future competitions.
“The hardest event we will ever skate will be at home,” O’Brien said. "But it's good to get one of the hard ones out of the way and really feel what it is going to be like on one of the hardest days. But overall I think it was a good performance. We tried to have fun and get our elements out there. I think we can work on our performance but, overall a good start to the season."
Their playful free routine was centred around a circus theme and they had the outfits to match! In bright pink, orange and blue stripes and polka dots, O’Brien and Merriman were vibrant and colourful, just as they are in person.
"We find it much easier to relate to fun programs than serious programs," O'Brien said with a laugh. "We are just not really serious people!"
The Sydney-born skaters, who have been skating together for 15 years, can now again look forward to an Olympic campaign after they missed their chance for Vancouver when Merriman became seriously ill just one day before the qualifying competition.
The Olympic Qualifying Event will take place in Oberstdorf, Germany from 25 – 28 September 2013. The Aussie skaters will need to qualify in the top handful of non-qualified nations to secure Australia and themselves a spot at the Sochi 2014 Olympics, something that they will be training hard for over the next month.