Along the way the AIS athletes made history in the Short Dance becoming the first Australian team to make the finals, achieving 20th place and scoring another PB by over five points.
The Short Dance performance, which earned Danielle and Greg 47.92 points, follows their stand-out performance in the qualifying round, which catapulted the Sydney couple into the best twenty-five ice dancers in the world with only twenty couples advancing to the final Free Dance.
With the top- ranked nine dancers still to compete, O’Brien and Merriman were happy to settle for 21st place, an achievement in itself after five years trying to break into the top 24, when the second French couple, who placed 7th in the European Championships last month, faltered and were placed below the Australians.
“It was history in the making,” said Australian Team Leader, Melina Simjanovic. “With only the top two groups left, we all knew there wasn’t much hope. Dan and Greg were happy with what they thought would be a 21st place. Dani even started planning what she would do tomorrow (sight see). Then the French team skated and had a few mishaps, but we thought they would still be scored above.”
“Then scores came up and 47 points were announced. Greg knew he and Dani also scored 47 but thought that theirs was in the low 47s and therefore would miss by the narrowest of margins. I turned to Dani to say you’re in. Suddenly we all realised they would make the top 20 and therefore, the finals,” Melina said. “Dani looked shell shocked and it took a while for the result to sink in to both of them.”
“They skated fantastically. We are all looking forward to seeing Dani and Greg at their absolute greatest to date in the Free Dance tomorrow. It’s a chance for them to perform, enjoy and have a blast.”
Building towards a successful 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics has been the long-term goal for the young couple, who moved to Bloomfields Michigan last September to train with Pasquale Carmerlengo and Anjelika Krylova. Danielle (from Strathfield) and Greg (from Canterbury) have given up family life to pursue their potential.
“We have more belief in ourselves now and it helps to be training in a team who are supportive and have a coaching staff who are supportive. We know we need to push ourselves and we have learned this through our training environment,” Danielle and Greg said after the event.
“This event has definitely been a turning point for us. It’s really nice to receive so many compliments and good wishes. Technically it wasn’t the strongest that we could do but we enjoyed it and are happy with whatever we did because we had qualified through to the short.”
“We produced the best short dance we have done this season and the scores showed it.”
Creating history was not on the their minds. “We knew we had potential to be good. Just didn’t know when we would be able to put it out there and make it happen,” they said.
In the final dance, Danielle and Greg remained in 20th place, recording a personal best overall score of 112.23 points.
Other Aussies in Action
Also representing Australia at the World Championship individual events were Brendan Kerry and his younger sister Chantelle who both made their World Championship debut.
In the preliminary rounds, Brendan placed 15th place in the men's skate with Chantelle finishing in 22nd in the women's event.