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Aussie Figure Skaters take on World’s Best

17 February 2017

FIGURE SKATING: The 2017 ISU Four Continents Figure Skating Championships kicked off yesterday, with ten Australians taking to the ice across multiple disciplines at Gangneung Ice Arena.

Six Aussies competed in the mixed ice dancing, with pairs Adele Morrison and Demid Rokachev, Kimberley Hew-Low and Tim McKernan, and Matilda Friend and William Badaoui finishing 14th, 15th, and 16th.

After experiencing what will be the stage for the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics, Friend and Badaoui expressed disappointment in their opening skate.

“It wasn’t the best skate – we had a few small mistakes,” said Friend.

“Tomorrow is a new day and we are going to go in with a fresh mentality and a good attitude.”

The pair impressed early in their routine, but a fall during a lift ultimately cost them.

“I just hit my toe pick when we were coming out of the lift.

“It cost us a lot of points so we are a bit disappointed with the outcome, but apart from the mistakes that we did have, we were really happy with the rest of the program.”

Taking out the event was Canadian pair and Vancouver 2010 gold medallists Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, and Badaoui said sharing the dressing room with the two-time World champions was an experience in itself.

“It was pretty amazing, just seeing everyone, them in particular in the change rooms and warming up next to us, doing the same thing as us.

“The atmosphere was very surreal.”

In the pairs short program, Harley Windsor and Katia Alexandrovskaya impressed in their first senior International Championship event, finishing 11th.

They started strongly, opening with a flawless split triple twist and moving into effortless side-by-side triple toe jumps.

A fall on an attempted throw in a triple lutz was the only sour note in an otherwise accomplished performance.

“I feel like we're becoming more of a mature senior team now,” said Windsor.

“Overall I’m pretty happy with our skate, minus the throw.

“Being our first senior championship event and being in the first group it really wasn’t too bad.”

Their score of 56.10 shows that the young pair are ready to match it with the best in the world.

Watching from her home in Sydney, coach Galina Pachin believes that, with time on their side, the team will only continue to improve.

“I think Harley and Katia will do better in the very near future,” said Pachin.

“They just need more experience.”

The ladies short program also saw two Aussies in action, with Kailani Craine and Sochi 2014 Olympian Brooklee Han battling it out against some of the world’s best.

Craine finished the best of the two in 13th, but feels she has more to give.

“I made a few minor errors and it did not show my full potential as a skater and the things I am capable of doing,” said 18-year-old Craine.

The free skate is still to come, where the Newcastle native hopes to put on a show.

“I am looking forward to the free skate as it is usually my stronger program, jam packed with triple jumps.”

Gangneung Ice Arena will play host to the Pyeonchang Winter Games in 2018 and, on first inspection, the Olympic hopeful was full of praise.

“The stadium arena is fantastic. The crowd was very supportive and the atmosphere was electric.

“I'm looking forward to getting back out there after a day off tomorrow between events.”

Craine is aiming to be the first Australian skater to perform a ‘triple triple’ at an international event.

“I am very confident as I have been training extremely hard since Nationals.

“I’ve had a little bit of a rough time with it at these practices but other than that at home it’s been going really great,” said Craine who hopes to debut the move at the Sapporo Winter Games next week.

“I just needed to do what I had to do for this competition and feel good for myself and my skating.

“For the Asian Winter Games I really want to try it out.”

Craine will be joined in Sapporo by Friend and Badaouias, as Australia makes their Asian Winter Games debut.

All competitors will be looking to improve in their remaining events, as they sharpen their routines ahead of next week’s games.

Action continues today in Gangneung, where Sochi Olympian Brendan Kerry will compete in the men’s short program, while the remainder of the team look forward to the free dance section. 

Nathan Lange

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