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.”
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