The 2019 ISU Figure Skating World Championships have taken place in Saitama City, Japan, with two-time Olympian producing the best Australian result.
Kerry finished his short program in 21st place, to qualify for the free skate.
In the free skate, he again finished the round in 21st, giving him an overall placing of 20th place.
2018 Olympian Kailani Craine finished the short program in 36th place and was unable to qualify for the free skate.
Also in action for Australia was the Ice Dance couple of Chantelle Kerry and Andrew Dodds who finished 26th.
PyeongChang 2018 Olympian's Brendan Kerry and Kailani Craine headline the Australian team competing at the 2019 ISU Figure Skating Championships to be held in Saitama City, Japan, this week.
Kerry is full of confidence following a ninth place result at the recent Four Continents Figure Skating Championships, where he achieved personal best scores and landed a total of three quads in the short and free program.
Also competing for Australia will be the Ice Dance team of Chantelle Kerry and Andrew Dodds.
Wednesday, March 20
Pairs - Short Program
Ladies - Short Program
Thursday, March 21
Pairs - Free Skating
Men - Short Program
Friday, March 22
Ice Dance - Rhythm Dance
Ladies - Free Skating
Saturday, March 23
Ice Dance - Free Dance
Men - Free Skating
Sunday, March 24
IMAGE - Brendan Kerry at the Four Continents Figure Skating Championship last month in Anaheim, CA, USA © Brendan Kerry Instagram
Two-time Olympian Brendan Kerry has achieved his best ever finish at the Four Continents Figure Skating Championships in Anaheim, CA, USA, with a ninth place performance.
The result betters his previous best performance at the Four Continents, which was an 11th place finish in 2017 in Gangneung, Korea.
Even more impressive for Kerry was that he achieved a personal best total points score of 224.44, and 147.63 personal best for the free skate round.
His PB scores come on the back of landing a total of three quads between the short and free program.
Also in action for Australia in the men's event was Andrew Dodds, who achieved personal bests for total score, short program, and free skate to finish in 13th and Mark Webster who also had personal best scores, finishing in 24th.
In the ladies event, 2018 Olympian Kailani Craine made a strong start to the competition with a tenth place short program, achieving a personal best score of 60.64.
In the free skate, Craine moved back in the standings with a 17th place finish, which gave her an overall ranking of 15th for the event.
Unfortunately 2014 Olympian Brooklee Han suffered an injury in official practice and was unable to compete in the ladies free skate. Han was in 14th place after the short program before her injury.
Australia had two couples compete in the Ice Dance, with Chantelle Kerry and Andrew Dodds in tenth, with Matilda Friend and William Badaoui in 12th.
IMAGE - Backstage with Brendan Kerry at the Four Continents © Ice Skating Australia
The Australian Figure Skating Championships took place during November 30-December 7 at Macquarie Ice Rink in Sydney.
Congratulations to the following athletes crowned Senior Australian Champions:
Pairs - Ekaterina Alexandrovskaya and Harley Windsor
Ice Dance - Chantelle Kerry and Andrew Dodds
Ladies - Kailani Craine
Men - Brendan Kerry
After a long season, Australia’s Olympic figure skaters have one more major event on their calendars this week before they can rest easy.
Kailani Craine, Harley Windsor and Ekaterina Alexandrovskaya and Brendan Kerry have arrived in Milan, Italy for the 2018 World Figure Skating Championships this week.
With many PyeonChang medallists either retiring, injured or electing to miss the final event, the chance to move up the rankings is a prime target for the Aussies.
First to compete on Tuesday in the women’s short program is Kailani Craine who is still on a high from her 17th place in PyeongChang.
“This whole experience has been everything I hoped for and more,” she said in PyeongChang. “I just wanted two clean skates and I did that.”
Pair skaters Katia Alexandrovskaya and Harley Windsor, who placed 16th at last year’s World Championships, were disappointed not to have made the free program in PyeongChang after a strong short program placing 18th.
“We’re doing normal comp prep, running programs and doing simulations,” Windsor said from Moscow where they have been training for the past ten days.
“The ice is good and we are skating two hours a day. I’m coping with it (away from home) better than I used to but not coping with the cold. Everything else is OK.”
“We definitely want a PB and to get through the short clean,” he said.
Technically the pair have the arsenal to move them upward and have been working on the performance side.
“I’ll have to find more feeling within myself to a certain extent. Part of it is enjoying the program and sport and not doing it just for the sake of it – otherwise you never get that extra percent.”
For Katia, the past three years since her father passed away in January 2015, has seen many changes.
“2015 was so hard for me because all year was awful after my father passed away in January. December 1st was Dad’s birthday and then on December 2nd Nina told me about Harley and that was the day we started skating together.”
“Then it was Australia by January. It’s so different (to Russia). Like night and day.”
“Of course I never thought about Olympics. I didn’t think I’d go because it was such a short time since we started.”
The rise of Australia’s first pair team to win a Junior World Championships, place 16th at Worlds last year, a Senior Challenger event and be crowned as Junior Grand Prix champions last December and qualify for PyeongChang is only just sinking in.
“The pressure (in PyeongChang) wasn’t more than I expected. We skated well but the scores were not so good. We did a lot of work and it was a big experience for us.”
“Olympics is in my heart. I take all of the emotions from PyeongChang and they will be forever in my heart.”
“The Opening was so exciting. So cool and amazing. When you are watching on TV it’s different. It’s not like this when you go by yourself,” she said.
My mum and family were watching and I was so long time on the TV!”
Katia’s mother, also named Ekaterina did not travel to PyeongChang to watch her daughter but may consider Beijing. Although Katia is not so sure.
“Mum can’t watch because she really worries when we do elements. She watches the video after.”
After a few weeks back in Sydney, the duo headed back to Moscow for more training with coaches Andrei Pachin and Andrei Hekalo.
“The throws are good in Moscow,” Alexandrovskaya said. “In training today we did a clean full long program.so, I’m very happy.”
“It’s been a long season. I am waiting for this rest. I will go back to Moscow from Milan and have a big rest. Mentally and physically I am really tired because this season started in September. There’s a holiday with mum to look forward to.”
Brendan Kerry has an opportunity to march up the world rankings with two of the three Olympic medallists (Hanyu and Fernandez) out of the world championships.
Kerry’s PyeongChang Olympics with a stellar short program and final 20th place delivered the redemption he was seeking from Sochi and admits to feeling more confident with his skating now.
“Since coming back from the Olympics I’ve felt very stress free on the ice,” Kerry said.
“Usually I wake up and know how many days until I leave for the next comp. Headed into worlds I just wake up and am like OK, time to get ready and head to the rink.”
“I’m pretty exhausted mentally as the past four years have been for one moment and now - it’s passed,” Kerry said.
“So - it’s a really strange feeling heading into this worlds. I feel confident about how I’m going to skate though - that’s exciting. However, I am definitely ready to have some downtime at the end of this season before the next four year run.”
The 2018 World Figure Skating Championships in Milan begin this Wednesday with the women’s short program followed by the pairs short.
SBS Australia are live streaming the entire event. Check your local guides for more information.
Results and more information can be found here
There's no doubt Australian figure skater Brendan Kerry has earned his place at the height of his sport, taking on the men's free skating event with a jam-packed program, that included two triple axels.
Overcoming a slight hesitation on his opening jump Kerry cemented his place in the top tier of international figure skaters, finishing 20th with a total score of 233.81.
"I wanted to make the most of this skate," Kerry said. "I wanted to go for everything."
"I was over-thinking as I went into my first jump, but I got it together.
"I wanted to go for my quads though because I know I can do them."
Skating to a mix of 'Shine on you crazy diamond' and 'Money,' the 23-year-old pushed through some early nerves to prove he can now mix it with the best in the competition.
"My whole feeling at these Olympics has been pretty relaxed, pretty chilled," he said.
"It feels like I've at least made up for that bad skate at Sochi. So that feels pretty sweet."
Kerry, who finished his short program in 16th place, with a technical score that had him at 13th, said he now plans on working on his performance and musicality.
"It feels amazing knowing that my technical score has improved so much," he said.
"If I can get my program component score up a bit more I think my overall score will keep improving."
The Sydney-born skater earned a score of 150.75 for his free skate, equalling his season best.
Kerry will now focus on the World Championships next month, before planning out his next four-year campaign, with his sights firmly set on making his 3rd Olympic Games in 2022.
He was here to prove a point, and Australian figure skater Brendan Kerry has well and truly done that.
A strong short program which included a powerful opening quad toe loop jump has seen the 23-year-old skater move straight through to the free skate event tomorrow, finishing in 16th place with the eighth highest Technical Score.
“It feels great, it feels freaking awesome, I’m not going to lie,” a beaming Kerry said. “I needed that skate.”
Skating to Everyone Wants to Rule the World, Kerry showed he was no longer the anxious Olympic debutant of four years ago, and instead, has well and truly etched his name into the top tier of international men’s skating.
“I was nervous, of course, but I knew I just needed to stay relaxed and do what I’d been doing in my practices.”
“I’m a much stronger skater than I was at Sochi and this time it felt like I actually deserved to be here, so I came in with a very different mindset.”
It’s been a long road to redemption for the former Sydney skater, who now trains in New Jersey with Russian coach Nikolai Morozov.
“After my first Olympics I knew I had to make some big changes,” he continued.
“I looked at what the elite skaters were doing and I decided I wanted to really go for it.”
Kerry needed a place in the top 24 to move through to tomorrow’s event, and his score of 83.06 – a new season best saw him guaranteed a place in that top group.
Watching Brendan Kerry take to the ice at PyeongChang, it’s obvious that the Sochi Olympian has changed.
“I feel in control this time around,” the 23-year-old said after an impressive training session.
“I’m just more comfortable.”
Kerry’s Olympic debut ended in heartache, with the then 19-year-old admitting he was overawed by the scale of the event, the media attention, and the crowds.
“I just wasn’t ready for it all,” Kerry said. “It was like I just couldn’t process it properly.”
But it’s a very different Kerry who’s skated in to Korea and he’s ready for his chance at redemption.
“There’s not that initial spark of excitement like the first Olympics, but I prefer it this way. I know what I can enjoy and what I need to wait for until after the event,” he said.
“Last time I spent my first few days running around, checking out all the venues, trying to meet everyone and get to all the events. This time I realise there’s no rush – I can do all that after my competition.”
The new and improved figure skater has also proved he isn’t scared of big decisions, changing coaches to Russian Nikolai Morozov just four months ago.
“I’ve made some big changes, but I had to,” Kerry said.
“I feel good about everything I’ve done. I’m in a good head space.
“My training has completely changed and I’ve learnt how much dedication it takes in all areas of life to be an elite athlete. When I went to the first Olympics I was like, ‘I go to the rink, I warm up, I skate, maybe I cool down and then I leave’. Now I know how important off-ice fitness is, I watch my diet, and I don’t go out all the time. I’m much more committed this time.”
He’s also committed to some of his favourite mottos, such as “pain is only temporary”, with the 23-year-old sporting numerous fresh tattoos.
“Since Sochi I’ve got, I think, maybe twelve tattoos,” Kerry laughed.
“I just used them as a way to remind myself of what’s important to me, and to keep me motivated to keep going.
“My favourite is the one on my forearm, it’s got four lines and the initials of all my sisters. My family is important, I always remember where I come from.”
And there’ll be plenty of family support in the stands – his mother, Monica MacDonald, who was her son’s former coach and a Winter Olympian is already here and his father will fly over in a few days.
“It’s great knowing they’re here and I have that piece of home with me,” Kerry said.
“Mum is the reason I started skating and dad has always been a big part of my life, so it means a lot that they’ll be here.”
While Kerry pushed hard to include three quad jumps in recent competitions, he plans on scaling it back for these Games, focusing instead on having two clean skates.
“I know I’m more than capable of doing the three quads but I know the best thing for myself will be to take that bit of stress off and just skate a really strong free program,” he said.
“I know what I’m focused on – I’m here to do a job.”
Kerry will skate his short program on Day 7 (February 16), and his free program on Day 8 (February 17).
In his last event before PyeongChang, Sochi Olympian Brendan Kerry has finished 13th at the Four Continents Figure Skating Championships in Taipei, Taiwan.
Performing his free program, the 23-year-old opened with a flawless quad toe but incurred a landing deduction in his second quad.
Multiple landing errors on easier triples proved costly for Kerry who said that he was “pretty disappointed” with his performance.
“I’m not going to lie, I don’t think I’ve even done one in practice that bad to be honest,” he said.
“But I’d rather do it now and know exactly what I have to improve on before the Olympics.”
China’s Boyang Jin won gold with 300.95 points while Japan’s Shoma Uno finished second with a total of 297.94.
Meanwhile America’s Jason Brown, who finished fourth in the short program, took bronze with a score of 269.22.
Andrew Dodds, who also competed in the ice dance with partner Chantelle Kerry, finished the day in 21st place with 177.81 points and though exhausted said that he was happy with the results.
It’s a long week, no one has ever done this before at a championship event doing two disciplines so it’s a challenge,” he said.
“Yes there were things that I missed out on and I can do a lot better but even that was a season’s best so it’s just building and I’m happy that I’ve got a season’s best at every time I’ve been out this week so that’s all I can ask for.”
Sochi Olympian Brendan Kerry has delivered his best short program performance since last March’s World Championships with two quads and a triple axel at the Four Continents Figure Skating Championships in Taipei.
The 23-year-old finished 9th on Thursday and after a “horrendous” performance at Nationals and an “awful” Grand Prix, he said he was happy to “come back here before the Olympics and dust the rust off” ahead of PyeongChang.
“I feel really good for free,” he said.
“This competition I’m trying a really different approach, I’m trying not to come here and do a tonne of programs and overwork myself like I usually would at home training.
“I’m trying to relax, I got in a little bit later than everyone else, missed my first practice. I’m feeling fresh, if at this point the work isn’t done I’m kind of stuffed no matter what so I figure just keeping my legs fresh getting ready would be the way to go.”
Current leader and Olympic podium favourite Soma Uno from Japan won gold with a score of 100.49, just 0.32 points ahead of China’s Boyang Jin who claimed silver while bronze was taken by Uno’s fellow countryman Keiji Tanaka with a score of 90.68.
While there is still the final free program to be skated on Saturday, small medals are awarded after the short program at ISU Championship events.
Kerry’s fellow Australian Andrew Dodds finished 18th after competing in the Ice Dance free program with partner Chantelle Kerry earlier in the day.
Despite being “completely exhausted” the 26-year-old said that he was feeling ready for Friday’s practice before hitting the ice again in the free program.
“I’ve had a bit of a calf injury at the moment so [I just need to] take care of myself so I’m ready to go on Saturday, he said.
Mark Webster opened with a triple axel and completed his triple flip combo but had trouble with the Lutz, finishing 28th.
Earlier in the day, 2016 Ice Dance Champions Matilda Friend and William Badaoui were back on the ice for their free dance scoring 58.96 in a program that the pair feel “is a lot more suited to us”.
“We feel a lot more comfortable doing it and we feel like it shows off our strengths in skating a lot more than the short dance and I think the score kind of reflects that and shows where we can be,” Friend said.
“Considering the setback we had, if we can be at this point in our free dance now then it’s looking promising for the future.”
“We were really proud of that skate, as soon as we finished we knew that we did the most we could on the ice and we really pushed it and when we got off and we saw the scores today we were happy with them,” Badaoui added.
“It was a surreal moment for both of us sitting in that kiss and cry and seeing the scores because three months ago I was in bed with the cast on.”
Dodds and partner Chantelle Kerry felt “settled” after finished thirteenth following the free program with a score of 115.62.
“We felt easy, we felt the ice pretty well,” Dodds said.
“All the elements went well, we got a few calls for the levels on some elements that we can work on. We’ve got a competition next week so we’ll have another shot to get them.
“We were aiming to get the qualifying scores for Worlds here, we were 0.4 off it. With a few extra practices and feedback on that, we should be good to go for next week. We’re pretty happy [but] like always we’re going to be disappointed when we just miss out on something.”
The Four Continents Figure Skating Championships continue until the 27th January. For results click HERE or follow OWIA on Twitter HERE and Facebook HERE for live updates.
Australia’s figure skaters are preparing for their last opportunity to test their programs ahead of the PyeongChang Games at the Four Continents Figure Skating Championships in Taipei, Taiwan this week.
Among the first to be selected for the Olympic Team, wonder pair Harley Windsor and Katia Alexandrovskaya capped off 2017 winning the Junior Grand Prix Final in Nagoya, Japan.
The current Junior World Champions, who have now won a total of five international victories and one third place podium result, said that they we’re feeling “ready for the competition”.
“Our session just now was relatively good and in the morning it wasn’t bad either,” Windsor said.
“We normally skate really well if we do a comp and then another not long after. It’s worked alright for us this season so I guess this will just be like a practice for us for PyeongChang.
“We had a big gap in between the Junior Grand Prix Final and this so we felt like this was sort of necessary to do before the Games.”
The pair, who will make their first Olympic debut in February, are unsure of how to feel about the looming Winter Games.
“We’ve never been and we don’t know how to feel because everyone’s told me that it’s not like a normal Junior or Senior World Championships … it’s the Games,” Alexandrovskaya said.
“There’s certainly a lot more hype around it but it’s our first one so I don’t really know what I’m meant to feel or how I’m meant to react to it,” Windsor added.
Fellow Aussie Kailani Craine, who wrapped up 2017 by winning her fourth consecutive national title at the Australian Figure Skating Championships in December, said Four Continents is her ideal Olympic test run.
“This competition for me is just a practice for the Olympics so hopefully I’m not really changing anything between the two competitions,” she said.
“I plan on doing my triple-triple combo in the Olympics so I really want to try and get that out there one more time, I’ve done it in the past two competitions but getting one more run at it will be good and just practicing the programs another time.
“I’m so excited, I could go tomorrow. It feels like it’s coming so slow but I’m sure it’ll come right around the corner. I’m really excited and I Want to do well at this competition so I can go back to Australia, back home, and have a few days before I leave for Korea.”
Sochi Olympian Brendan Kerry, who previously said that “being selected for the Olympic team again is a huge motivation” for championship events, will also compete in Taipei.
"4CC isn't so much a practice run for the Games as it is a testing event," he said.
"I really want to see what's ready and what needs work before the Games so I can go out and do two clean skates come PyeongChang.
"My biggest focus at this event is for the Short Program to go out with 2 quads. The Free I'm focusing a lot more on being strong the whole way through rather than trying to save myself for the ending."
The large Australian team also includes 2014 Sochi Olympian Brooklee Han in Ladies, dancers Matilda Friend and William Baddoui plus Chantelle Kerry and Andrew Dodds. Joing Brendan Kerry in the men's are Andrew Dodds (competing dance and mens) and Mark Webster.
The Four Continents Figure Skating Championships kick off on Wednesday 24 January with the pair and women’s short programs. For results click HERE or follow OWIA on Twitter HERE and Facebook HERE for live updates.
In a comprehensive victory, Kailani Craine has won her fourth consecutive national title surpassing her personal best score by nearly five points at the Australian Figure Skating Championships in Brisbane.
23-year-old Brendan Kerry made it a six-time win, coming from well behind in the short program with a fighting free program to retain his crown as Australia’s Men’s Champion.
Kailani had a spectacular national’s campaign with a clean short program that included a triple/triple combo and backing up with two triple lutzes in her free program to Moulin Rouge, achieving a PB total of 172.06 points.
“I love my short program,” she said.
In second place was the new junior national champion Amelia Jackson from Queensland who backed up by making the podium in senior ranks and in third was veterinary science student Katie Pasfield from NSW.
Struggling with multiple international flights and jet lag, Brendan Kerry skated a horror short program, missing every jump and ending up fifth on 57.17 points. He had his work cut out to catch short program leader Mark Webster who was on 65.03 points leading into the free program.
Fighting back to overhaul an eight-point lead, Kerry landed two triple axels and a triple/triple combo in the free program, earning 197.29 points, which was enough to secure the title ahead of Andrew Dodds on 190.80 and Mark Webster on 184.51, both of whom also skated strong free programs.
Kerry had been testing out the order of the quad jump elements at the recent Shanghai Trophy in China and at the national championships.
“I wanted to see if I felt comfortable with the quad salchow as the first element, so we tried it in Shanghai but I didn’t want to base a decision off one comp, so nationals was a safe testing ground,” Kerry said.
“I’m definitely now able to sort the order of elements to put out strong consistent skates from here on out.”
Kerry will return to his new training base in New Jersey next week.
“I’m looking at getting in some really solid training time without having to bounce around for comps. They were disappointing skates at nationals but I’m really happy I pulled up and won my sixth title. It’s important to me, especially heading into the Olympics.”
“At nationals I wanted a clean second half and when the loop didn’t happen, I was angry.”
Paris Stephens and Matthew Dodds took out the pairs championships and new dance team this year Chantelle Kerry and Andrew Dodds were impressive in their first championship together winning the dance.
The Australian Figure Skating Championships in Brisbane this week will provide national champions Brendan Kerry and Kailani Craine with an almost last opportunity to test their programs ahead of the PyeongChang Games next February.
Both skaters have returned from their US training bases for the senior national titles in Brisbane to be held Thursday 7 and Friday 8 December at Boondall Ice World.
Kailani Craine (19) will be going after her fourth consecutive title, while five-time Champion Brendan Kerry (22) will be seeking his sixth.
Craine intends to test out harder technical content in her short program.
“I'm really looking forward to the nationals this year. I always love competing in front of a home crowd, and I really hope to deliver a personal best performance,” she said.
“It's also an excellent opportunity to practice my routines before the Olympic Games with harder content, especially in my short program.”
“This year has been so exciting for me, so I hope to finish with my tenth overall national title (in all divisions). It's always a fun time catching up with my fellow team mates and I love to see how much everyone improves each year.”
Kerry is expected to have a smooth ride to his sixth title.
“It’s important to come home and do nationals because as Australia’s best I feel obligated to come back to defend my title and compete alongside the up and coming Australian skaters,” Kerry said.
“At this event I want to try and see what’s comfortable and what isn’t in regards to the order of elements headed into the Olympics. The new free program is going really well so far and transitioning from a thought process to more of a go to set of actions.”
Pair champions Ekaterina Alexandrovskaya and Harley Windsor will not be in Brisbane to defend their 2016 crown but competing on the same days in the ISU Junior Grand Prix Final in Nagoya, Japan.
2016 Ice Dance Champions Matilda Friend and William Baddoui are also out of this year’s championships after William sustained a broken ankle in training a few months ago.
The Australian Figure Skating Championships will be live streamed on the Ice Skating Queensland Facebook page.
Entry to all events are free of charge at Boondall Ice World, Sandgate Road, Boondall. The Senior Men’s short program starts at 8.40pm (AEST) Thursday, 8 December and the Ladies at 9.50pm.
The final free programs on Friday, 9 December begin at 11am (AEST).
A competition schedule can be found at http://www.isa.org.au/afsc
Under an unusual format for international ice sports, the invitational only Shanghai Trophy in China combined figure skating, short track and synchronised team competitions over four days culminating in an ‘All On Ice’ gala on Sunday evening.
Australia was represented in the limited-entry events in figure skating by Brendan Kerry and Kailani Craine and in Short Track by Deanna Lockett.
The competition formats with only a free program for the figure skaters and varying distances for short track provided a change from the usual routine.
The best result came from Brendan Kerry who placed fourth of six competitors in the free program with 149.15 points, landing one quad jump and two triple axels scoring less than four points shy of his personal best.
“The event was fun and much less tiring as I didn’t have to perform the short program beforehand,” Kerry said of the new-look competition.
“We all enjoyed such a small event. Everyone gets along really well, so it’s safe to say we all had that competitive mentality but also all enjoyed it.”
Kerry, who has changed coaches to Nikolai Morozov and changed his training base to New Jersey, USA, took away a few positives from Shanghai.
“Overall the PCs (Program Components) were much lower than what I would’ve liked. I wanted to throw out some triples seeing as I managed not to do too many at my last event. So not the greatest I’ve ever done but I still took away some good stuff headed to the Games.”
Kailani Craine, who was called up to the event with just two weeks’ notice, also enjoyed the new experience and placed fifth with a spirited skate.
“I've had a really different competition experience in China, only a free program,” Craine said.
“In training I was trying more ‘tano’ variations on most of the jumps which unfortunately I didn't showcase here in China, but I think they will be ready for my next competition.”
“All of these different experiences help me build into a better skater. There’s always more you can learn.”
Being guaranteed a gala exhibition at the conclusion of the event is exactly the sort of skating which the Newcastle 19-year-old enjoys.
“I've had a really good time in China. The people are so friendly and I can't wait to perform in the exhibition,” she said before the gala.
With their Olympic qualification events behind them, figure skaters Brendan Kerry and Kailani Craine alongside short track speed skater Deanna Lockett are heading into this weekend’s Shanghai Trophy with a weight off their shoulders.
The three Aussie skaters secured their place on the invitational event’s start list through their strong performance at their respective World Championships in March this year.
Having already secured his place on the Australian Winter Olympic Team for 2018, Shanghai will present the perfect opportunity for Kerry to reclaim the ice after he previously described his performance at the Grand Prix in Regina, Canada as “the worst”.
Now, just a few days out from the event, Kerry said that he was “hoping to achieve a strong core and re-gain some confidence”.
“Preparation for Shanghai has been going really well. Not planning as much technical difficulty, rather trying to just go out and focus on a more polished performance,” he said.
“I started the season out really strong and then had a disastrous skate at my GP. All part of sport – but I just want to go out and get my mojo back!”.
The five-time Australian Men’s Figure Skating Champion and Sochi 2014 Olympian was named alongside Craine two weeks ago as one of four figure skating athletes to compete at PyeongChang this February.
Kerry, who will contest the men’s individual event, said that “being selected for the Olympic team again is a huge motivation” while for Craine it’s made her “push harder”.
“I think now that I have qualified, my training feels a little more free and I can push myself to try harder elements and also really push my run throughs without being worried of making a mistake,” Craine said.
“Preparing for Shanghai is a little different to a regular competition since we only perform our Free Program. So basically I’ve just been running my free program a lot and building up really good stamina and confidence with the program.
“Training has been going really well, I have a lot of confidence in myself leading into this competition so hopefully I can just perform how I do in training every day!”
The 19-year-old skated to gold at the Nebelhorn Trophy in Oberstdorf, Germany earlier this year, securing an Olympic berth for Australia at PyeongChang 2018 and impressing judges with her Free Skate to ‘Moulin Rouge’.
The routine featured five triple jumps, three level-four spins and level-four footwork, skills that picked up the Newcastle native 109.43 points.
“My local rink has set up a big TV screen where my free program from the Olympic Qualifying competition plays on repeat, which is such good motivation for me to push myself so I can feel those kind of moments at the Olympic Games,” she said.
Lockett, Australia’s top female short tracker, wrapped up her World Cup season last weekend ranking seventh in the 1500m and 19th in the 1000m – with the top 32 skaters in each distance securing Olympic quotas for their nation.
With the Olympic qualification period behind her and this event having no impact on her rankings, Lockett will be more “relaxed” and able to “enjoy a little bit more racing with no pressure,” according to her coach Lachlan Hay.
“She will be able to focus on some new things and some new strengths to use at PyeongChang” Hay said.
“It will be a great chance to get used to the loud noise from the crowd which will be expected in Korea 2018.
“It’s a huge event they put on and very exciting, showcasing the best of the best in speed skating and figure skating as well.”
Lockett will contest the individual 1000m and 1500m event and will likely throw her hat in the ring for “a really fun chance to skate with other skaters and make a relay team” in the 444m, 777m and 2000m international mixed gender relay events.
The 2017 Shanghai Trophy will take place from 24 – 26 November. You can follow the live results HERE.
David Barden / Georgia Thompson
OWIA / Olympics.com.au
At the second of six ISU Grand Prix events in Regina, Canada, figure skaters Brendan Kerry and Kailani came away with a mixed bag of results in a topsy turvy event that included Olympic and world medallists.
Ranked 15th in the world, Kerry was aiming for a two-quad short program and three quad free program, testing his technical arsenal in Skate Canada’s power-packed men’s field, which including Olympic, World and European medallists.
For Kerry, the short did not go well, with the opening quad popping to a double and errors on the following quad salchow and triple axel leaving him trailing the field in 12th and well below his personal best.
In the free program Kerry had it all to do and shook off the previous day’s disappointment, landing three quads and being one of only two men to do so along with winner Shoma Uno from Japan.
The back end of his free program that includes the usually reliable triple jumps mostly popped out to doubles and whilst Kerry climbed to 9th in the free, his overall result only improved to 11th.
“The men’s event here in Canada was a very, very interesting one. A lot of great skates and a lot of not so great skates,” Kerry said.
“Unfortunately, I went out and delivered the worst possible short program I could have. The long was also not ideal in not delivering the triples at the end of the program. However, I think that there is always something good to take away from each skate headed towards Pyeong Chang.”
“For instance, it was awesome to be able to go and throw down three quads in the free skate. I made a lot of silly mistakes on the easier elements. But that’s sport - everyone has their good and bad days. Onwards and upwards from here on out,” he said.
The men’s Skate Canada title went to Shoma Uno, silver to USA’s Jason Brown and bronze to Alexander Samarin of Russia. An epic melt down in the free by Canada’s Sochi silver medallist and three-time world champion Patrick Chan saw him slip from second to 4th after a technically weak final performance.
In the ladies, Kailani Craine was a surprise invitee to the prestigious Grand Prix circuit two weeks ago and came into the field ranked near the tail.
Her trademark enthusiasm and infectious performance quality saw the debut GP skater deliver a blistering short program, which included her first successful attempt at a triple/triple this season placing ninth ahead of 2016 World Junior Champion Marin Honda from Japan and two Canadians.
In an attacking free program, Craine went after the jumps but was penalised for under rotations, finishing the event a creditable 10th overall.
The three-time national champion was initially disappointed in her free program score.
“The free program skate wasn't exactly what I wanted it to be. I had higher standards and expectations for myself but at the same time I'm proud of myself and the way that I've represented my country,” she said.
“I believe that I benefit so much from different experiences and emotions, and this competition will make me a much stronger skater for upcoming competitions and this Olympic Season.”
“I feel really great about my season so far and I was so excited to be invited to my first Senior Grand Prix. I hit a lot of new goals that I set for this competition including hitting a triple triple combo in the second half of my short program, and also no edge calls.”
“My short program was technically up to date to be competitive in this field and I needed to get the triple triple combo out there before Four Continents. I was hoping for a much higher score but regardless I have gained much more confidence with this element.”
The ladies Skate Canada gold was won in emphatic style by Kaetlyn Osmond from Canada, silver to Maria Sotskova (Russia) and bronze to Ashley Wagner (USA).
Australian champions Brendan Kerry and Kailani Craine open their 2017 Grand Prix account this coming weekend at Skate Canada in Regina, Saskatchewan.
For Craine, the invitation to compete in her first Grand Prix follows her stunning victory at the Olympic qualifier in Germany last month and was a welcome surprise.
“Honestly, I am so grateful to be competing with the top ladies in the world. I'm not sure how I expect to feel when I am there since it is a new experience for me, but I really just want to show how hard I've been working, and how much I enjoy being out on the ice,” Craine said from her,” Los Angeles training base on the weekend.
The pressure at the top end of the Ladies event is intense with Canadian and US champions Kaetlyn Osmond and Karen Chen among a hot field with top Russians and Japanese skaters all vying for the Grand Prix podium.
The four-time national champion has bagged a gold and silver in the Challenger events this season but knows that she has stepped up the international ladder.
“This season has been going really well as I've medalled a fair few times and picked up some personal best scores.”
“However, I can always improve on my skating and my goal for Skate Canada is to lay out a more technically difficult short program. For my free program I feel like I can make a personal best score as I've been working on areas that need to be improved since Nebelhorn.”
“My short program I kept from last season because I feel like it deserves an Olympic moment and it highlights the happiness that I feel when I skate.”
“I am completely in love with my free program (to Moulin Rouge) this season. My choreographer and I spent a lot of time making the cuts and storyline just right. I am kind of challenging something cryptic and ancient, like an awakening. This program really brings out an inner intensity and fire that I needed to feel for this season.”
Brendan Kerry is no stranger to the Grand Prix circuit and top echelon of the men’s field. Skate Canada will be his fifth career GP in a field that includes Canadian Sochi silver medallist Patrick Chan and 2017 World silver medallist Shoma Uno from Japan.
The technical advance in quad jumps for the men since the Sochi Olympics has been profound and was highlighted again on the weekend at the first Grand Prix in Moscow when USA’s Nathan Chen overcame Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu with two quads in the short and four in the free program. Hanyu, who won the free program portion of the event with three quads had to settle for silver to the new US men’s star.
Kerry, who is coming off a successful Challenger series with two bronze medals, is upping his quad content.
“In Regina, I want to hit a two-quad short and then an overall PB score.”
“As far as the level of skating that the top-ten is currently at, the only mental preparation for me is to focus on myself and my skating - not the other competitors.”
“The aim is to reach the goals I've set for myself rather than focus on a finish I can't control.”
Kerry finished a career-high fifteenth at the World Championships in March and is knocking on the door of the top 12.
Leaving his relatively safe character performers from last season behind, Kerry has taken a more serious-minded approach to his music choices for the Olympic season with two different choreographers in Mark Pillay for the short and Nikolai Morozov for the free.
“The inspiration behind the short to ‘Everyone Wants To Rule The World’ was to just go out and do something completely different, be more serious and to play to my skating strengths.”
“The free program to Pink Floyd was Nikolai's idea and I love it because I feel as though it's super outside of the realm of skating. It's edgy and different,” Kerry said.
Skate Canada opens with the Ladies Short Program on Friday 1pm local time (Saturday, 6am AEDT). The men’s event begins at 6pm local time (Saturday, 11am AEDT). The final free programs will be competed the following day. Results can be found here
By Belinda Noonan
Figure skater Brendan Kerry has secured his second bronze medal in successive weeks on the International Skating Union’s Challenger series, consolidating his position in the top fifteen in the world of men’s figure skating.
Over the weekend, Kerry, 22, climbed from fifth place after the short program in the Ondrej Nepela Trophy in Bratislava, Slovakia to the podium, claiming bronze with 221.21 points behind Russians Mikhail Kolyada (247.81) and Sergei Voronov (234.07).
“It's early in the season and people are still testing things out for the Olympic season, myself included. So, going from fifth to third is awesome. However, it really could've been anyone's on the night,” Kerry said.
The overall bronze was a repeat podium appearance by Kerry from the previous week in Italy at the Lombardia Trophy in a stronger field that was won by World silver medallist Shoma Uno (Japan) with silver going to Jason Brown (USA).
Kerry opened his season in Italy delivering his most technically difficult short program so far, including two different quads for the first time. He also stepped up the artistic complexity and was rewarded with a personal best Program Components score that bettered his 2017 World Championship score.
Crucial to international figure skaters is the all-important world rankings that determine the order in which skaters compete at Championship and Olympic events. Kerry’s aim is to break into the World top ten.
“Getting these world ranking points early in the season will help take the stress off having to rush and do last minute comps pre-Olympics,” Kerry said.
The ISU Challengers are a ten-event series throughout Europe and North America, which this season are attracting top-ranked skaters in preparation for the invitational only Grand Prix events that begin in October.
“Lombardia was a strong competition, which was good and very motivating to be on the ice with Shoma. The event went well for my first time trying a two-quad short program,” said Kerry of his season opener in Italy.
Achieving back-to-back podiums secures Kerry’s position in the overall ISU Challenger rankings and lifts his World Ranking going into the Grand Prix series ahead of PyeongChang 2018.
Kerry’s bronze in Italy marked the first time an Australian man had won a Challenger medal and is an indication of how far the Sochi Olympian has come in four years.
He will return to his training base at Riverside, Los Angeles with coach Tammy Gambill before competing in the Grand Prix series at Skate Canada in late October.
Australian Ladies Champion, Kailani Craine also had a strong Challenger event in Bratislava. The 19-year-old finished eighth on 157.84 points behind winner and current World Champion Evgenia Medvedeva from Russia whose overall total of 226.72 was more than 37 points clear of silver medallist Rika Hongo from Japan.
2014 Sochi Olympian Brooklee Han was also competing in another Challenger event: the Autumn Classic International in Montreal,Canada. After placing fourth and recording a personal best short program score of 57.65, Han finished the event in seventh place overall with a score of 158.81.
Figure skater Brendan Kerry held off strong competition to take overall bronze last night at the Lombardia Trophy in Bergamo, Italy, making him the first Australian man to reach the ISU Challenger Series podium.
Ranked 15th in the world, Kerry delivered his most technically difficult short program so far, including two different quads for the first time, scoring 82.30 points just behind USA’s Jason Brown for third place going into the free program.
Skating to ‘Everyone wants to rule the world’, 22-year-old Kerry stepped up the artistic complexity of his new short program and was rewarded with a personal best Program Components score that bettered his 2017 World Championships.
Current World silver medallist Shoma Uno from Japan skated a majestic short, also with two quads, amassing a lead of over twenty points over Brown and Kerry.
“It was a strong competition, which was good and very motivating to be on the ice with Shoma,” Kerry said. “The event went well for my first time trying a two-quad short program.”
Skating after Uno and brown in the final group in the free program, Kerry opened with a stunning quad toe, tripled out the salchow and landed two triple axels in a performance to a Native-American themed free program that is a major departure from his previous character-style pieces.
Placing fifth in the free program with a healthy 150.75 points, Kerry again made a career PB – this time for the technical score of 80.15, an overall total of 233.05 and held on to take bronze with Uno winning gold (319.84) and Brown on 259.88 points with silver.
Kerry’s aim was to match his 2017 World Championship performances as a minimum start to the new season.
“The free skate was rough and still a bit lacking in stamina, so I held back to just get the tech done. But we got the job done and I'm really close to where last season ended, which I think is a great place to start.”
“Overall this is a good place to begin the Olympic season,” he said. “Training has been a bit up and down as it's always hard to get the season going.”
Kerry will head to Bratislava for the Ondrej Nepala Trophy next week for his second ISU Challenger event.
To see Brendan Kerry's new free program, click here
Or to watch his two-quad short program, click here
Last season justified the belief Brendan Kerry and others had in his ability to succeed in the tough world of men’s figure skating where multiple quad jumps are now essential to be anywhere near the top ten.
The insecure 18-year-old who went to Sochi in 2014 after a surprise qualification (even to himself) has been replaced by a mature, elite athlete who has learned how to train, manage his time and his expectations.
After placing 15th in the 2017 World Championships, Kerry qualified Australia directly into the men’s event in PyeongChang and that was a relief to the Los Angeles based skater.
Despite managing a nagging foot injury that impacted upon his quad jumps, Kerry reached the top five in multiple international events, posted PBs at almost every event he entered – and became a force to be reckoned with.
“Reflecting on last season, I feel as though I can’t be anything but happy. The main goal was to qualify for the Olympics, which is what I did and what everything was based around. So, no complaints,” Kerry said.
But was he satisfied with his results?
“World Championships? No, I wasn’t - because honestly I feel as though last season I played a lot of head games with myself, but for first time in my life I was one hundred percent sure I was going to do perfectly.”
“It was such a strong field but I was not nervous or stressed about anything. In Finland (at the World Championships) I lost my feet the whole week and I was not having a good week on practise.”
“I had been so injured all season but pushed myself, so I knew I could get my job done. I was pretty excited when it was over. It feels way cooler to qualify this time around,” he recalled.
Athletes often review their best performances with one word – ‘relief’. Kerry fits in that boat.
“Qualifying was the biggest relief. To have a whole year to plan around the Olympics is a yes and no advantage. My focus is about being at the Olympics - not getting to be at the Olympics. There’s a difference.”
“Last year I was focused on trying to have a comfortable short program with brief moments of artistry. This year will be different. I definitely feel like a very different skater again.”
Last year’s music choices and choreography centred around cheeky-style characters with Singing in the Rain for the short and Pirates of the Caribbean for the free program.
Kerry’s Olympic season programs are in a totally different category.
The character pieces are gone, replaced with two intricate, artistically demanding pieces choreographed by two very different choreographers in Mark Pillay for the short program and Nikolai Morozov for the free program.
Pillay, from Vancouver, has worked with Kerry for many years and has delivered a short program to ‘Everyone wants to rule the world’, which coach Tammy Gambill thinks is amazing.
“I love the short,” Gambill said the first time she watched it in May. “It’s amazing and it’s impressive what Brendan is doing now. I can see a difference already.”
Kerry was seeking a challenge and he has it.
“Mark and I were trying to make the short as difficult for me as possible in all aspects. Not a single week has gone by that I haven’t had a compliment on the music and the program.”
Pillay’s music choice is no accident.
“Essentially, the theme somewhat parallels Brendan position in the world of figure skating. He’s climbing the ladder amongst several other competitors that are clawing their way to the top. I felt the concept really worked for Brendan and it was an idea we both could get behind, plus the orchestration is incredible, so it felt very fitting to use in an Olympic season,” Pillay explained.
Having watched the boy become a man, Pillay reflected on the years they have worked together.
“I remember my first experience with Brendan. Often times when you get new clients, they really want to impress you. And that was the same for Brendan. He was trying almost too hard, that he was getting in his own way.”
“Now – things are different and the process is much more natural and fluid. Last season Tammy, Brendan and I all discussed how we wanted Brendan to invest more in his choreography.”
“We all knew his technical ability was highly proficient, but now it was time to tackle the other side of his skating.”
“In my field, I’ve always known that progress and the developmental has to come from the skater. You can say all the right things, but if they’re not ready, then that’s the reality. I think last year Brendan was ready to step up and get his Olympic spot. I saw him make that choice all year long, and he went out there and did his job in Helsinki.”
“This year, Brendan came to me and said, ‘I want to change the way I skate’, and I really respect Brendan for that.”
“Last year we saw how well he could handle character pieces, but even though he knew he was good at it and that it would be a safe choice, he didn’t want to go in that direction. He wanted to develop more depth in his skating – and that is what we’re trying to do in his new short program.”
As charming as Kerry is, it’s the serious side that is being explored.
“Anyone who knows Brendan knows that he’s charming. He just is. And with that charm often comes laughter. So more often than not, we laugh a lot together. He’s immensely talented, but talent can be a challenging attribute to have. You have to respect talent, train it, and at times be humbled by it,” Pillay said.
Having finished the short program in May, Kerry was scheduled to embark on his next challenge - the new free program with the mercurial and very successful New Jersey based Russian coach/choreographer, Nikolai Morozov.
Fate intervened via a freak training accident on June 2nd when Kerry literally stabbed himself in the foot.
The heel of the blade of the left foot went through the boot and into the inside of his right foot.
“Rehab has been longer than I wanted,” he said of the ten weeks it took to get back on track.
“It was a disgusting amount of rest. There was bone bruising and I had murdered some of the nerves in my foot. They reconnected in a different way but there’s no structural damage, even though my head is saying there’s still pain.”
He returned to Australia in July for strength and condition training at the NSW alpine base in Jindabyne with OWIA’s Head of Preparation John Marsden.
“The off-ice training I was doing wasn’t tailored enough. Working face to face with John and having time with him was important so that he could see exactly where I’m at and what I want,” he said.
“We worked hard to gain the physical strength, correct techniques and we also sat down and sorted out my comp schedule with off-ice periodisation.”
It was the first time Kerry had worked alongside Australian winter athletes from snow sports.
“Working in that setting and being with other Australian winter athletes was nice. The girls thought they could outdo me in an abs contest. That wasn’t going to happen!”
He returned to on ice training in August by spending three weeks in New Jersey with Morozov for the free program to ‘Valley of Dreams’.
“I was able to do everything as of first week of August albeit still painful but bearable. I like the free program a lot. It’s native American and we were fine tuning every step and beat.”
“It’s hard working with Nikolai. Parts of my body were hurting that shouldn’t be by using different body positions. Doing movement is not enough. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve fallen over just doing his choreography.”
“Usually when I skate I have a very bad habit of remaining on axis no matter I do, but the way Nikolai is teaching me the program, there’s more extreme lean, using core strength and balance to maintain the position.”
“It’s very different how Nikolai goes about choreography. I feel like you tell people to do a rocker turn, but to Nikolai it’s not just how you do a rocker but that you could do it in a million different positions. He pushes the boundaries. Doing a rocker like everyone else isn’t good enough.”
Kerry debuted his two new and very different programs in a local Los Angeles competition last weekend. There’s a way to go as the programs develop, however they exhibit a hitherto unknown complexity.
The quads are there, the skating skills enhanced, the spins continue to improve, yet the biggest change is the seamless integration of transitions to jumps and spins in an almost mesmerised fashion.
Kerry’s personal challenge will be real. Both programs are magnificently conceived which will require a matching effort.
“In hindsight, what I have learned is that every single bit of preparation is beyond important. We’ve been training hard through the injuries and difficulties. Olympics is a very, very different mentality than any event - ever. I had to make my previous maximum my minimum.
Kerry opens his international season at the Lombardia Trophy in Bergamo, Italy from September 14 to 17 (Results and information here) then onto the Ondrej Nepala Trophy in Bratislava September 21 to 23 (results and information here).
“I would like to do no worse at these comps than I did at Worlds performance wise,” he said.
A further test of the new programs will come at the Skate Canada Grand Prix at the end of October but the main game is Olympics.
“Toward PyeonChang, I feel really calm. I’m at a point in my career that I know how the season works. From a mental standpoint, I know how to train. My coach and choreographers keep my head in check.”
By Belinda Noonan
Figure skater Brendan Kerry has secured Australia an Olympic berth for men at the 2018 PyeongChang Olympic Winter Games after finishing 15th at the World Championships in Helsinki last night with a smart finals free program.
In one of the toughest men’s figure skating events ever seen, the technical level pushed through more boundaries, personal bests were frequent and performance delivery was on high. Kerry stepped up to the pressure where 36 men were vying for 24 nation Olympic quota places.
Competition was tight with the 24 quota spots by nation filled by 20th place overall at the conclusion of the men’s event. (Ladies was filled by 22nd place, Pairs by 13th).
Critically, making it through the short program was the first hurdle for Kerry – which he did in style delivering a career best skate placing 13th with the flawless delivery of a quad toe, triple axel and triple lutz/triple toe jump combo.
But it wasn’t all technical delivery. A different and calculatingly determined Kerry came out to play, shedding his previous insecurities by believing in his training, coaches and his own ability, scoring 83.11 points for his short program – a massive five points higher than his previous best.
“I knew I could probably get away with one mistake in the short program and still get through to the free skating in an OK spot,” he said.
“However, I feel as though this is the first program I've had fun skating and that it's helped me grow as a skater - especially in regards to my (performance) components.”
“It was super important to me to give the short a proper send off. The fact that it was Worlds and an OQC was just a bonus.”
For the final 4.30minute free program, Kerry played it smart by only going after one quad but upping the triple jump combos to accumulate a high technical element score that garnered him another PB of 153.13 points, placing 15th overall with a total score of 236.24 points – his third PB for the event.
Knowing he had secured the all-important Olympic quota spot for Australia initially elicited a one word response on his feelings, which all elite athletes can identify with.
After changing-up his training in the two months prior to the World Championships, Kerry is already looking ahead with new-found confidence.
“I know now that I can handle upping the technical content and improve the second mark, and appearing to be a completely different skater heading into the 2018 Olympic season.”
It may have taken almost four years, but the young 18-year-old who approached his first Olympic Games in Sochi has been replaced by a more mature young man who has another year to prepare for PyeongChang in 2018.
Olympic Champion Yuzuru Hanyu fought back from fifth place in the short to deliver an incredible free program that was all class from start to finish with four quads and two triple axels in combination and sequence, scoring a world record 223.20 for the free program alone and 321.59 in total.
Hanyu wrested the world title away from two-time defending champion and training mate Javier Fernandez from Spain who was leading after the short but was unable to deliver the free program he hoped for, leaving him in fourth overall.
Shoma Uno from Japan took silver and Boyang Jun from China the bronze, making it the first ever Asian podium sweep for men at a World Championship.
For Australian Ladies Champion Kailani Craine the delight in delivering her best-ever short program, placing 19th (from 37 competitors) with a PB and making the final 24 skaters gave way to disappointment in the free program.
The fiery competitor opened tentatively with a triple flip and unfortunately fell on her second jump – the triple lutz. Despite pulling back ground with another triple flip and triple loop,
Craine was unable to accumulate a high enough technical score and had to settle for 95.97 points, amost 15 points lower than her PB placing 24th in the free and 24th overall with 152.94.
“Obviously, I’m disappointed in myself. Just because it hasn’t been the program I haven’t been putting out the last couple of weeks.”
“I’ve been doing the run throughs in the practises here and they haven’t been anywhere near as bad as that.”
“Although I’m disappointed I still had a good short program and I’m still proud of myself.”
“I’m not going to beat myself up about it. It’s OK. I can take even more lessons from this skate. There’s always something to learn.”
For Australia to qualify a quota spot in ladies, the attention will now be on the Olympic Qualification Competition in September in Germany where the final six spots will be determined.
Australia’s Junior World Pair Champions Harley Windsor and Ekaterina Alexandrovskaya will also be vying for one of the remaining four Olympic quota spots in September.
For only the second time at an Olympic Winter Games, the popular Team Event will be contested before the individual disciplines (Men, Ladies, Dance and Pair) in PyeongChang.
The Team Event comprises ten national teams of one lady, one man, one pair and one dance team each competing their short programs, with the top five teams going through to the finals.
Australia is on the cusp of making the top ten teams and will need to keep performing well in the up-coming new season to make this prestigious Olympic event.
There’s always more to do, another mountain to climb, another challenge to conquer.
Just ask Australia’s top men’s figure skater and Sochi Olympian Brendan Kerry, who has managed a foot bone bruising for a year – an injury which seems to have been the making of the widely acknowledged talented skater who has gained confidence and maturity comp by comp, step by painful step.
Always the precocious talent, sometimes hot and cold with results to match, this season has seen a distinct change in approach, attitude and results for the 22-year-old who relocated to Los Angeles four years ago to chase down his talent into the elite of men’s figure skating.
“I’ve always been able to do big tricks but mentally didn’t deal with errors in competition. The things I am able to do now with the quality that I’m doing has changed. This year has been a big step forward because if I wanted to stay in the game I had to manage injuries,” Kerry said.
His path hasn’t been a walk in the park – financially, emotionally or mentally until recently.
“My approach to training is very different. For me before, it was enough to just do the program. Now I put a lot more into warm up and recovery than I used to.”
Coaching Kerry at Riverside in Los Angeles is his now long-time coach Tammy Gambill who has gone through the ups and downs with the talented young man.
“The before and now Brendan is like night and day. And it’s nice to have seen how he’s matured and grown up over the years here at Riverside,” coach Gambill said.
“Brendan is very endearing. A goof ball yes, but very sensitive at the same time. He’s a great team mate here and a very hard worker now. He is the early into the rink warming up and watching when and what he eats.”
“He is much more engaged and finally doing run throughs all the time. That was a hard process. I feel comfortable that he’s really well trained going into Worlds.”
The respect goes both ways.
“I trust Tammy and my choreographer Mark Pillay. We are leaving the short as it was in Four Continents and only made minor adjustments to the free. Tammy and Mark thought it best to leave it – so I’m pretty happy and just gonna trust that.”
The former junk food lover is consigned to memory.
“In general, my health and well-being is better. I do have the odd unhealthy meal and instead of going out after comps having a drink, these days it’s only one,” he said.
“So, yeah – compared to last season I do feel more accomplished and more confident. The better competitive vibe and performances goes hand-in-hand with doing better. No-one enjoys competing poorly.”
Gambill does have high expectations for Kerry, yet for this World Championships her hope is that the boy who became a man, “will go out and perform two great programs.”
The Asian Winter Games in Sapporo have proven to be a happy hunting ground for Australia’s best figure skaters Brendan Kerry and Kailani Craine.
Kerry, who is now firmly established as one of the world’s top men’s figure skaters, landed three perfect quad jumps throughout his Sapporo campaign – two of which were in the free program to earn personal best scores in all phases of the event and a total of 237.37 points.
The 22-year-old Sochi Olympian has used the Asian Winter Games as a stepping stone for next month’s World Figure Skating Championships in Helsinki, Finalnd where he will aim to qualify Australia for the 2018 PyeongChang Olympic Winter Games.
Despite performing well in Friday’s short program Kerry admitted to being nervous in the free.
“This is my first program in competition successfully landing two different quads so that was pretty awesome but I feel it was a bit sloppy and I was disappointed with my mindset going into it, (I was) self-doubting a lot,” Kerry said.
“Doing these back to back events it’s a huge drop off in training. I go from having as much ice as I want to being limited to one practice a day. I feel as though doing quality elements is a strength of mine but my stamina is on the low end so when you take the training schedules away it’s pretty hard to maintain that,” he said.
Having successfully competed at the Four Continents Figure Skating Championships and now Asian Winter Games, Kerry is confident his routine can secure Australia a start in the men’s event at next year’s Olympics.
"I saw my choreographer about a month ago and we made some changes, so last week was a good simulation and this week was a chance to test things out and figure out what we need to change, so it should be good going into Worlds,” he said.
The men’s event was won by Japan’s Shoma Uno, with Boyang Jin (China) in second and team mate Han Yan in third.
Kailani Craine continued her good Asian Winter Games form, producing a strong routine in the women’s free program at Sapporo’s Makomanai Indoor Skating Rink.
Encouraged by her personal best result in the short program, Craine gave another competitive performance in the free program to finish in fifth position overall.
“Still a lot of work to do,” Craine said. “It wasn’t a personal best but definitely it was twenty points better than last week (at Four Continents).”
“I was happy about being able to do a lot better than last week and stay physically and mentally strong.
“I don’t think I delivered a really good performance tonight but once again I was really focused on each element, I really do need to work on the performance factor,” she said.
“Obviously still a lot of work to do before Worlds but I think now I’m on the right pathway.”
“Top 17 is the ultimate goal but I really want to show everyone what my potential is and what I can do every single day in training because I think that’s the most frustrating part that sometimes it doesn’t always work out.
In the pair’s competition, Matthew Dodds and Paris Stephens had their final Asian Winter Games outing in the free program with a total score of 91.90, which ranked them seventh.
The pair were disappointed with their short program and in Saturday’s free program they were out to prove they could deliver a polished performance.
“We wanted to get the twist done,” Stephens said. “Being able to show that I can do the twist was important because I missed that yesterday so that was good,” she said.
While they were happy with the performance Dodds admitted they had more to give.
“We would have hoped for a little bit higher, I think we were missing a couple of levels in some of our elements so even though everything happened it wasn’t top quality for us,” Dodds said.
Sochi Olympian Brendan Kerry has set a new short program PB at the Asian Winter Games in Sapporo last night posting a score 82.54 and nailing his opening quad toe in the process.
Kerry's top five finish gives the 22-year-old a strong foundation for the free program on Sunday, moving him into the prestigious final flight of skaters and amongst the top ranked men ahead of the World Championships at the end of March.
“I came to this competition not worried about placement or scores. It’s always nice to get a good score but I want to use this event for practice in preparation for Worlds where I have to qualify a spot at the Olympics,” he said.
As Australia’s only man with not one but two quad jumps, being able to return to his quad toe jump after battling bone bruising in his left foot all season is an important breakthrough.
Kerry landed the quad salchow jump in both the short and free at last week’s Four Continents but the Asian Winter Games has provided the opportunity to go after the quad toe again, relax a bit and fine tune his performances.
“The short program here is definitely a good feeling, I’m not worrying about anything, I’m just having fun and enjoying it,” Kerry said.
Kerry is happy to be building form at a crucial time.
“I feel like I’m putting out consistent skates,” he said.
“The hardest part about competing in these big events is you’re always nervous and I was still a little anxious but it was also fun so that was nice.”
Leading the men’s event is Boyang Jin, the 2016 World Championship bronze medallist.
Also competing yesterday was ice dance duo William Badaoui and Matilda Friend who achieved their second personal best in as many days, scoring 42.56 in the free program for an overall 105.98 and sixth place finish.
“Regardless of the mistakes all the technical parts of the program were still good,” Friend said.
“We had wobbles at the beginning and fitness problems but when we got to our elements we could focus and re-group and got it all out technically,” she said.
The couple is part-way through a busy competition schedule and will now return to Australia for two weeks before heading to the World Junior Figure Skating Championships.
“We have to go back and modify our programs and it’s just going to be about drilling the fitness and getting back into that constant training so we can skate our peak and get another personal best.”
“Our big goal is to perform well enough in the short so that we can qualify through to the free dance and if we can skate the free at the Junior Worlds that would be a big thing because we didn’t make the cut-off last year.”
In the Pairs, Paris Stephens and Matthew Dodds completed their short program for a score of 29.52 for a sixth place ranking.
“There were a couple of things missing that are usually standard for us so obviously we’re disappointed in that,” Dodd said.
“Looking at the marks there were still some things that were pretty good, the lift went well and we got a four in our spin.
“There were things in there we were happy with and things that didn’t quite go as well but overall fairly happy,” he said.
The couple has had to adjust to an unfamiliar competition environment.
“I find the ice a bit soft so I find it harder to get my toe jumps and get off my toe,” Stephens said.
“The whole arena is a bit overwhelming but I need to get used to that,” she said.
Gangneung Ice Arena has proven it is well and truly ready to host the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games, as the Australian Figure Skating Team wrapped up their ISU Four Continents Championships campaign with great results across the board.
Serving as the Test Event for the 2018 Games, the South Korean arena saw the largest Australia contingent of skaters compete at the event, with athletes in every discipline for the first time since 2006.
The first pairs skaters in over a decade, Harley Windsor and Ekaterina Alexandrovskaya, finished the Championship in 11th place, with consistent results in both the short and free program.
“I feel like we're becoming more of a mature senior team now,” said 20-year-old Windsor, who has been skating with 17-year-old Alexandrovskaya since January 2016.
“Overall we are pretty happy with our senior championship.”
Windsor and Alexandrovskaya will now turn their attention to Junior World Championships in mid-March before taking on the world’s best at World Championships later in the month, which is also an Olympic qualification event.
In the men’s event, Sochi 2014 Olympian Brendan Kerry produced fantastic results, finishing 11th overall with a season’s best and his highest ever Four Continents result.
“I was incredibly happy and incredibly annoyed after my season’s best,” said Kerry who recorded his first short program score inside the top ten at an ISU Championships.
“I had so much fun out there and gave it my all.”
Despite nailing majority of his routine, the 22-year-old walked away frustrated with a mistake on his triple axel in the short program.
“I missed my money jump. Ask anyone at my training rink and they'll tell you- it's never the 3A he's worried about.”
But a mistake won’t deter Kerry in his quest for PyeongChang 2018 qualification as he hopes to feature on the Olympic program for the second time.
“That's my number one focus.
“I know that if I give my absolute best at every other event and treat it like an Olympic qualifying competition that when the time comes it won't be as big of a deal,” said Kerry who was also eager to test out the Gangneung Arena.
“The Olympic venue was awesome! Less intimidating than I thought it would've been.”
Kerry now turns his attention to Sapporo, Japan where a team of 30 Australian athletes will make their Asian Winter Games debut.
“I'm excited to do the AWG as there isn't any pressure for a specific result - it's a competition I can do just to enjoy the experience. I'm also really looking forward to going to Japan.”
Fellow Aussies Andrew Dodds and Mark Webster finished in 20th and 21st position respectively in the men’s event.
In the women’s competition, 2014 Olympian Brooklee Han wrapped up her campaign in 14th, two places ahead of Australian teammate Kailani Craine in 16th.
Mixed results for the Aussies saw Han record her best ever free program routine, while a bad day on the ice and two falls for Craine proved to be an important learning lesson for the 18-year-old.
“I expected everything to go as it has gone in practice, so when I made a mistake on the triple lutz I was in a state of shock, and just couldn't recover,” Craine said.
“I am told ‘all champions have had bad skates’, so now I have had mine.”
The Newcastle native is determined to put her bad skate behind her and is looking forward to bouncing back for the Asian Winter Games.
“Even though I know myself that I work way too hard to perform the way I did, the bad days at the office make the good days feel even more special.
“I'm so grateful to have the incredible support from my Australian team mates, and I'm the luckiest girl alive to have my two number one fans by my side; my mum and dad.”
Rounding out the green and gold skaters, the three sets of Australian Ice Dancers finished their ‘4CC’ campaigns with the free dance event on Friday afternoon.
Adele Morrison and Demid Rokachev finished in 14th overall, while AWG skaters Matilda Friend and William Badaoui secured 15th position ahead of Kimberley Hew-Low and Timothy Mckernan in 16th.
Craine, Kerry, Friend and Badaoui will now join pair skaters Paris Stephens and Matthew Dodds plus their AWG teammates in Japan and will look to record some more strong results for Australia.
The 2017 Sapporo Asian Winter Games’ were officially opened overnight and figure skaters are set to take to the ice on Thursday February 23, with Ice Dance the first event on the program.
Live streaming is available on the Sapporo17 website.
IMAGE: Brendan Kerry and coach Tammy Gambill wait for the scores after the free program at the ISU Four Continents Championship. Photo: ISA Facebook